The 2019 edition of HBO’s Hard Knocks followed the Oakland Raiders’ training camp, and while the hype surrounding the new episodes was very real, one of the best parts of the show was watching head coach Jon Gruden.
The Raiders brought back Gruden as coach in 2018 after he spent nine years at ESPN as a broadcaster. Gruden was known for being pretty out there in the booth, so seeing that goofiness while he coached the likes Derek Carr, Antonio Brown, and Vontaze Burfict was a treat.
Hard Knocks premiered Tuesday, Aug. 6, and aired through the finale on Sept. 3.
Without further ado, here are some of the best moments from Gruden on Hard Knocks.
We updated this story each week with all the Gruden goodness, so you didn’t miss any of it. You’re welcome, America.
During the Hard Knocks season finale, Gruden gloriously trash talked Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith during the Raiders’ final preseason game vs. Seattle:
“Throw a pic, Geno - you’re due.” Might be line of the #HardKnocks season from Jon Gruden.— Evan Doherty (@YSportsEvan) September 4, 2019
Oh, and he showed of his athleticism again (he’s done this before, see below) while chasing Nathan Peterman around:
Gruden also got emotional when talking about making roster cuts at the end of the preseason. Is it getting dusty in here, coach?
Gruden went full grinder mode in Episode 4 of Hard Knocks when he decided to show off his athleticism. Well ... sort of.
In a drill with the Raiders quarterback, Gruden played the part of a free blitzer who would chase Derek Carr and co. out of the pocket. It was some Grade A unintentional comedy:
If only he brought along the pool noodles. Then the Raiders quarterbacks would really be in trouble.
Frank Caliendo made an appearance on Episode 3 of Hard Knocks. Caliendo has been doing impressions of Jon Gruden for years and it doesn’t appear like he plans on stopping any time soon. Caliendo was at the Raiders’ practice facility providing some comic relief for the team.
Gruden got a few chuckles out of Caliendo’s performance, but even he seemed like he was getting a bit tired of the schtick towards the end.
Gruden said, “Why don’t you do something funny here tonight, Frank?”
One hilarious bit from the third episode was Gruden inexplicably not knowing the “Happy Birthday” song. He tried to start it up for Mike Mayock’s birthday, but he was offbeat as hell.
Work on it, Coach.
Unlike Episode 1 of Hard Knocks, during the show’s second episode, we finally saw Gruden in his true Gruden element. The first few minutes of the episode, he talked about wanting some “BETTER F*UCKING EXECUTION” during practice:
Jon Gruden is FED UP..."It's time for you to start to put your foot up someone's ass"pic.twitter.com/hc1dHydAKZ— gifdsports (@gifdsports) August 14, 2019
What he also tells rookie receiver Keelan Doss before the Raiders’ first preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams is everything: “I’m more excited about seeing you play than seeing my wife, and I haven’t seen her in two weeks.”
This hilarious quote, which he says after getting on his backup QBs Mike Glennon and Nathan Peterman:
“Sorry for being a dick, but, I am a dick — not really, I just — big fans.”
Then during the preseason game against the Rams, which the Raiders won 14-3, we hear Gruden on the sideline say he “needs to stop cussin.’ Then next thing we hear from him:
“Let’s start chewing these fat f*ucks up!”
In the season’s first episode, Gruden didn’t actually do anything too out there. His best speech probably was when he told his rookies he was more into nightmares instead of dreams.
“I’m really not into dreams, anymore OK? — I’m into f*cking nightmares ... You’ve gotta end somebody’s dream.” It’s an interesting analogy, but it kinda makes sense?
For Gruden's rookies, being a Raider means becoming someone's nightmare.— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) July 26, 2019
Your first taste of this year's #HardKnocksNow, our behind-the-scenes looks at @Raiders training camp. pic.twitter.com/a0rCxPezM1
Also, shoutout to Gruden for mentioning the Bluebonnet Bowl, which used to be a college football bowl game played in Texas in the late 1950s until the ‘80s. RIP.
(HBO actually released this clip in a sneak peek before the season premiered, but hey, this was still definitely the highlight of episode one.)
Oh yeah, and we won’t get to see any rookie hazing from the Raiders under Gruden, either:
Gruden also allegedly told TE Luke Wilson he needs bigger calves.
Thankfully, HBO also released this clip before the premiere. Now we don’t actually see Gruden say this word for word. But according to Wilson, who recounts the exchange to teammate Paul Butler during practice, Gruden told Wilson that he’s “gotta get bigger calves.”
Special thank you to the HBO camera crew for panning down during this exchange to show us Wilson’s tiny calves. LMAO:
Besides his one-liners, there was a lot more interesting things to see from Gruden on Hard Knocks.
As my colleague Charles McDonald pointed out before the show, it was interesting to see how Gruden and new general manager Mike Mayock (who also was working as a broadcaster with NFL Network prior to joining the team) got along.
Gruden’s relationship with the quarterbacks was a lot of fun, too. All three in Carr, Peterman, and Glennon made the Raiders 53-man roster, so it should be fun to watch it continue over the course of the season. Not to mention Gruden has already joked about what it’ll be like when he’s neighbors with Carr when they move to Las Vegas next year.
If the show ended up making you want even more of Gruden, you’re in luck. If last season taught us anything, it’s that we’ll be getting a whole season of these Gruden-isms.