Jon Gruden is back in black.
In a press conference on Tuesday (and after two weeks of speculation), the Oakland (soon to be Las Vegas) Raiders officials introduced their energetic new head coach to fans. Gruden, who went 38-26 in the four seasons during which he coached the Raiders, told reporters and fans: “I’m all in. I only live one time.”
“I never wanted to leave the Raiders,” Gruden said. That much is true; Gruden was traded away from the Raiders in 2002 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a pot of gold in the form of two first round picks, two second round picks and $8 million in cash. He also got a pay raise, with his salary increasing from $1.4 million a year to $4 million a year.
he’ll earn as much as $10 million a year for the next 10 years, despite being relegated to the broadcast booth for the past nine seasons. Gruden didn’t confirm reports that he received the longest contract awarded to a coach in the history of the NFL (which, unlike his players, is 100 percent guaranteed), but he did quip,
“I don’t have a guarantee to be alive for 10 years.”
(For what it’s worth, $100 million would be about 20 percent of the new worth of Raiders owner Mark Davis, which is estimated at about $500 million.)
That’s not bad money for a guy whose career win percentage (.541) isn’t too far off from Jack Del Rio (.492), the coach the Raiders fired, then forced to announced to reporters that he’d been fired. But if his press conference was any indication, he still has the fire of a head coach burning inside of him.
In my favorite moment, the passionate head coach admitted that he still harbors a grudge over the NFL’s notorious Tuck Rule, which ruled a Tom Brady fumble an incomplete pass in the 2002 AFC Divisional round of the playoffs, costing the Raiders a postseason victory. Brady and the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl.
“There is unfinished business as a coach. I was traded. I was fired… For my [Raiders] career to end that night in New England, it still ticks me off,” Gruden said. “Brady fumbled that ball.”
Unfortunately, the Raiders aren’t scheduled to play the Patriots during the 2018 NFL season, so if Gruden wants to settle the score against Brady, he’ll have to lead the Raiders to the playoffs next season.
“I have not coached since 2008. I haven’t won a game since 2008. I haven’t lost any either,” Gruden said. “I’ve dealt with pressure before. I really don’t feel pressure. I love the excitement and the thrill of competing.” – Rob Tornoe.
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