Being the first name mentioned for any football coaching vacancy has its perks, I suppose. First, it’s got to be very good for the ego. And it’s nice to have nearly unlimited options. But there’s also a downside.
Jon Gruden must feel like some version of the Grim Reaper by now. Each time an NFL coach gets fired, his name is the first to pop up in Rumor Central. A lot of these coaches are probably his friends, or at least acquaintances. Gruden was last employed as a coach in 2008, the year the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired him. Since then he’s been linked with approximately 3,000 head coaching jobs: more if you include the CFL, Lingerie Football League and his kids’ Pop Warner teams. The latest big rumors have involved the Texas Longhorns and Oakland Raiders (the latter, to be fair, stoked a bit by Gruden himself, according to reports).
Now, with today’s NFL firings, Gruden is being linked to the Cleveland Browns job. And that apparently was the final straw. Sure Gruden grew up in Sandusky, Ohio, but he’s not crazy. He’s has had enough, apparently.
“I don’t want to be considered for any of these jobs,” Gruden said in a phone interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I don’t want to be considered for anything. There are plenty of good candidates out there. I’m just sick for the guys who can no longer coach their teams. … I’m hoping to do the best I can to hang on to my job.”
Gruden’s brother, Jay, the offensive coordinator with the Bengals, is also being mentioned in connection to the recent coaching vacancies.
“He’s happy to be at Cincinnati and excited to be in the playoffs,” [Jon] Gruden said. “I can’t speak for him. … I’m not going to (speculate about Jay Gruden’s chances to be an NFL head coach). They’re in the playoffs, and I’m obviously biased toward my brother.”
Why would Jon Gruden ever return to coaching? He has a good gig as an ESPN analyst. His job allows him to spend time with his three young sons and his wife. He has a Super Bowl ring (2002, Buccaneers). Why return to the meat grinder?
Gruden just turned 50, and when you look at his overall record as an NFL coach (95-81), you realize that he’s god, but not a miracle worker. At this point the idea of Gruden is actually a lot better than the actual thing. He just turned 50, and has to be loving life. It’s just awkward that whenever he’s seen in a city’s airport, the nearest NFL head coach looks into putting his house on the market.