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Oakland Raider’s recycling program: Jon Gruden returns as head coach

Written By | Jan 7, 2018
Jon Gruden

By SteelCityHobbies – Flickr, CC BY 2.0,

OAKLAND, January 7, 2017.: NFL Network‘s Ian Rapoport announces that former ESPN NFL announcer Jon Gruden has been hired as the Oakland Raiders next head coach. Gruden, who has been off the sidelines for nine years, is breaking records with a $100 million contract for 10 years.

The news broke just hours after Gruden finished announcing the Kansas City and Tennessee wild-card game on Saturday. The Oakland Raiders have announced a press conference for Tuesday, where they will introduce him as head coach.

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Jon Gruden’s Record-setting contract

Gruden’s $100 million contract with the Raiders is the largest in NFL history. Gruden’s ESPN broadcast partner Sean McDonough congratulated him during the broadcast but Gruden said “Nothing’s official.”

The Oakland Raiders announced their decision to hire Gruden via social media and on Twitter.

Jon Gruden’s return as the prodigal son

From 1998 to 2001, Jon Gruden coached the Raiders and in four seasons. Gruden left with a 40-28 record, including one appearance in the AFC title game.

Gruden was last on the  Raiders sideline during a New England game on Jan. 19, 2002. Following that snowy contest, Raiders owner Al Davis made the trade the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In return for trading the coach, Davis’ won two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $8 million.

The Buccaneers, with Gruden, won Super Bowl XXXVII on January 26, 2003 (48-21). The Raiders failing to return to the playoffs until 2016.

The Raiders were in need of a coach after they decided to part ways with Jack Del Rio. In 2016, Oakland won 12 games, which gave Del Rio a four-year extension, but this season the team failed to deliver with a 6-10 2017 season.

The team finishing in third place in the AFC West, again failing to qualify for the playoffs.

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Analysts have pointed to multiple possibilities of why the Raiders failed this season:

  • Raiders firing of offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, replacing him with rookie coordinator Todd Downing
  • The defensive line struggles with defense coordinator Ken Norton Jr., leading to a late-season firing and replacement with John Pagano.
Recycling NFL coaches nothing new

All this combined led to the firing of Del Rio at the conclusion of his third season and the fight to get Gruden. Raiders have rehired coaches before but the results were not what they were hoping.

In 2006, former owner Al Davis hired Art Shell, after firing him the first time. Shell’s firing came after one year, and after the Raiders ended the season 2-14.

The Washington Redskins have recycled Joe Gibbs who left the NFL in 1992, with three Super Bowl titles. He returned to D.C. in 2004, and in four seasons ended up with a 30-34 record, leading the Redskins to two playoff appearances.  When Jon Gruden returns to the Raiders as head coach, he will be bringing along Greg Olson as his offensive coordinator. Paul Guenther will be his defensive coordinator with Rich Bisaccia as his special team’s coach.

John Gruden and ESPN

After his firing from Tampa Bay, Gruden’s Fired Football Coaches Association became a think-tank for coaches no longer ont he sidelines.  In 2009, Gruden got behind the ESPN color analyst desk for Monday Night Football.  For ESPN, Gruden was present for the 2010 Rose Bowl and 2010 BCS National Championship game for ESPN radio.  In 2011 he was on camera for the Outback and Orange Bowl games.

Gruden’s contract extension with ESPN is through 2021, however, he was given a warm send-off from the sports broadcasting company.


Larry Lease

Lawrence Lease is a conservative commentator taking aim at all aspects of governmental domestic and foreign policy. Lease previously served as a volunteer with the human-rights organization International Justice Mission in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Follow Lease on Twitter, Facebook, and soon Blog Talk Radio.