With Bruce Allen now hired by the Redskins to serve as the team’s General Manager, far fewer than six degrees of separation are needed to link Jon Gruden to the organization as a potential head coach.
Gruden and Allen worked closely together with the Raiders and the Buccaneers, with Allen serving as the guy who set the table for Gruden.
But Gruden recently signed a much-hyped “exclusive” contract extension with the Redskins, which supposedly will keep him in the Monday Night Football booth for years to come.
Still, it remains unknown whether Gruden’s contract with ESPN prohibits him from leaving to coach a team, or whether he simply has given his word that he’ll rebuff coaching opportunities. (And the question of whether Gruden’s word can be trusted is a subject on which reasonable NFL and NFL media minds might differ.)
So we asked ESPN — again — whether Gruden’s contract contains a clause that restricts him from terminating the arrangement early in order to return to coaching.
And, just as they did on November 16, ESPN isn’t commenting on the topic.
“We do not comment on contract terms,” ESPN spokesman Bill Hofheimer told me via e-mail this morning. “We expect to have Jon on Monday Night Football for many years to come with the long-term commitment he has made to ESPN.”
Still, Gruden has said that he’ll “probably” coach again. Whether that happens before the expiration of his long-term commitment with ESPN remains to be seen.
This much, however, is clear. Today’s sudden resignation of Vinny Cerrato followed by the sudden hiring of Bruce Allen confirms that NFL teams routinely line up big moves away from the prying eyes of the public or the press. So if Gruden is going to be the next coach of the Redskins, don’t expect anyone to say anything about it until Jim Zorn has left the building — possibly followed within only a few hours by the announcement that Gruden has arrived.