New Yorker profile of Jon Gruden fails to connect the dots

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Former Raiders and Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden has been the subject of plenty of articles.  Most recently, he served as the subject of a comprehensive profile in The New Yorker.

It’s a lengthy article, and I actually read the whole thing.  Which means it’s good; otherwise, the adult ADD would have kicked in within the first few paragraphs.

Still, something was missing.

The article points out that Gruden routinely is “criticized for overpraising players” publicly, but also points out that, in private settings, Gruden displays far less charity.

Writes Kelefa Sanneh of Gruden:  “He is forever judging players who don’t or can’t excel — ‘slapdicks,’ he calls them, or, more familiarly, ‘slappies.’  A defensive lineman gets shoved back on his heels and collapses, too calmly, onto the turf.  ‘He just looks like he’s enjoying this, getting blocked,’ Gruden says.  Three receivers run malformed routes, and they all end up in the same throwing lane. ‘That’s horrific,’ Gruden says.  An offensive tackle dives halfheartedly at the feet of a defender, who leaps over him and knocks down the quarterback. ‘I can’t take it,’ Gruden says.”

So why the disconnect between the public and private persona?  “His enthusiasm isn’t meant to fool the fans,” Sanneh writes, “it’s meant to motivate and inspire them, as if they were players.”

Even if that isn’t a large chunk of baloney (and it probably is), the article overlooks the most prevalent theory regarding Gruden’s homage to Harvey Dent.  Many believe that Gruden fully intends to coach again, and that his “everyone is the greatest” routine is aimed at ensuring that no bridges are burned, so that he’ll have maximum options — and leverage — when he decides to return.

It’s clear he’ll return.  “I miss it a ton,” Gruden told Sanneh.  “In some ways, I can’t believe I’m not a coach.”

And I can’t believe that a lengthy profile of Gruden was written without pointing out the possibility that his lack of authenticity in the broadcast booth flows from that desire to return to the sidelines under the best possible conditions.

Gruden was at it again on Monday night, chiding on-air partner Ron Jaworski for being “the most negative guy I’ve ever met” after Jaws expressed an opinion that the Chargers won’t turn around their current 4-7 record.  Gruden then proceeded to apply his lips to the buttocks of Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, rattling off Rivers’ record in the months of December and January and eventually encouraging him to tune out “negative people” like Jaworski.

It makes sense.  With the Chargers reportedly poised to fire Norv Turner, there’s a chance that Gruden will be Rivers’ next head coach.

44 responses to “New Yorker profile of Jon Gruden fails to connect the dots

  1. Some editors they have there at The New Yorker: Dayton University, that’s University of Dayton….Nitpicky yes, but it calls into question how deep this guy dug into Gruden.

  2. I’d love to hear his honest opinions on TV. He was (in)famous for being rough on his players. And in a lot of ways he’s an interesting and maybe even admirable guy.

    Jaworski is far from negative – his love for football glows from every pore – he was just realistic.

    I’ve never gotten the love that Rivers gets. Obviously a good quarterback (except this year; but he does have a bad OL), but why the constant praise?

  3. Said Gruden of the article: “I feel this is a really balanced, well written, fully comprehensive article and Kelefa Sanneh…..man, he is just one heck of a writer.”

    Maybe when Gruden gets another head coaching job, Kalefa can do a modern day Paper Lion….

    Of course, he’d probably actually make the team as a QB.

  4. What record did Phyllis and the Sparklers have last year in December?

    This isn’t 08 or 09, this year this team isn’t very good, they’re 4th in the division and 2 of the 3 teams ahead of them are better than they are.

    You had your 6 year window Sparklers, it amounted to nothing, now back to the bottom of the AFC West where you rightfully belong!

  5. I can’t wait for Gruden to get back into coaching……and get him out of the broadcast booth. I much prefer someone who isn’t afraid to “call a spade a spade” and tell it like it is instead of praising everyone from the headcoach to the waterboy.

  6. What you are missing is the fact that Gruden is the only former-coach-who-wants-to-coach-again who displays that kind of love for the players. If it truly was an effort to keep the bridges intact, then why don’t we see the same “love” from Brian Billick, Herm Edwards, Eric Mangini, Jim Mora, or heck, even Bill Cowher? You want to know why? It’s because the article is right, and that’s just Jon being Jon.

  7. It makes a lot of sense for him. He wants back in so bad he can taste it but he wants back on his terms (money and another SB). Since he isn’t sure where that will be, he has to suck up to everyone who could possibly be a part of that.

  8. I’m so sick of this milquetoast jockocracy of ex players and coaches spouting inane platitudes, incessantly ribbing each other, and kissing ass. When is there going to be a show of regular experts who can call it like they see it?

  9. Rivers is still the best quarterback in the AFC.
    No longer planning to watch Chargers v Jags. He’s a commentator and not a motivator for every single player out there!

  10. I wonder if, when the $105 million dollar a game broadcast contract kicks in if ESPN will accept getting numerous Jacksonville games and matchups like the St. Louis-Seattle one they get to show next week. I am sure Jaws will say something like “call me crazy but I am excited to watch Tom Brandstater play tonight.”. (don’t laugh, that’s exactly what he said about Tyler Palko 2 weeks ago.)

    The media talks about how great Gruden is. They can’t possibly be watching the same guy I do every Monday night. I as shocked last week when he crapped on Eli Mannin’s 20 completions in a row, saying “let’s be honest it has been against the prevent.”. I thought right away, ” he must know he won’t be getting the Giants job when Coughlin is canned.”

  11. Gruden has no shame. In the same MNF pre-game commentary quoted in this pft article, Gruden said Rivers is “the best Quarterback in the AFC”. Jaworski and the other guy should have just looked at him and slapped him upside the head.

  12. Maybe a real journalist would have looked beyond Monday Night Football and viewed some of Gruden’s sit downs with incoming NFL QB’s as they prepare for the draft.

    Gruden is highly critical and hands out some tough love to guys that are about to become multi-millionaires. It’s some of the best football analysis on TV.

  13. It would have been great if Jaws had replied to Gruden’s remark by saying “it’s not that I am a negative person, Jon, it just that I’m not angling for Norv Turner’s job”.

  14. Why would Jon Gruden want to get back into coaching without the stress and most of all the kind of money he is making at ESPN. I have read that he making close to 5 million a year. Now that is 5 million a year to work essentially 90 days in 1 calender year…where do i sign up for that?

  15. Gruden isn’t just two faced about players. As God as my witness these two items were said right next to one another with a grand total of one play separating the two:

    1. With San Diego in that defense about the only thing you can do is dump the ball off to your check down guy. And why not? If San Diego is giving you MJD just keep throwing him the ball.

    2. Jacksonville needs to get their receivers involved here. They need to stretch the field. This dinking and dumping stuff isn’t going to work.

    My brain literally cramped up on that.

  16. ehatem…I was thinking something similar. They spent the whole first half praising Gabbert then before he even made a bad play in the second half , they started complaining about his not throwing downfield. THEN they commented about the Jax WRs not getting open. It is to laugh.

    All I can think of is that the MNF people want them to play certain roles on the broadcast because as someone pointed out, Gruden is plenty tough on those young QBs he profiles before the draft.

  17. Sweet Harvey Dent reference Mike!

    Your take on Gruden might very well be spot on, but maybe he just doesn’t think negative hard-a$$ takes are good television. I think he does have a sincere passion for the game and maybe he feels being positive conveys that to a broad audience better than being negative. He may have been advised that way as well.

    In any case he is over-the-top too ofte; and I think because he is always praising players, when he actually does criticize one, it comes across even harsher.

  18. I’m a bolt fan but Rivers is not the best QB in the AFC but he ranks in the top 5 of the AFC. Maybe not this year with his 17 int but he’s put up numbers with backups like he did last year.

  19. Sheesh, get a sense of humor everybody. Do you believe EVERYTHING that is said on TV. Do you really hinge on every word Matt Millen has to say? No you don’t.

    Chuckie has been the best thing to happen to MNF in a long long time and the group they have is great. He’s EXCITED about football and it translates into what he says. It’s infectuous and you can get the coach vibe from him instead of some impassionless soul from elsewhere.

    And do you really think he was upset with Jaws -its called showbidness. My god – do only 12 year olds comment on this stuff. Grow up.

    And if he wants to coach again – great.

  20. And Gruden isn’t making $5M a year – what kind of rag did you read that from. That would blow the remaining strands of hair from Craig Berman’s head…

  21. Gruden’s an a$$ kisser of the highest order. Anything he says I take with a grain of salt because he’s ALWAYS fawning over a player. He has no credibility as an analyst because he isn’t honest. I don’t care for the current MNF broadcast team, but at least Jaworski seems honest in his assessments, and sometimes that means saying something negative Jonny boy… and these “Chucky” photo’s run with all the stories about Gruden kill me. He’s about as scary as Bambi. The night he let Keyshawn Johnson berate and abuse him on the sideline on Monday Night Football I lost all respect for Gruden, and the Chucky persona instantly died. What a phony…

  22. The points you make in this post are refreshing to hear. I hate Gruden I can’t stand his BS praise on everyone. When it’s that obvious how can you take him seriously,it’s an all the time thing with his stupid nick names and everyone is great. It reminds me of the ass kiss you just hated in HS. I personally can’t wait for him to get a coaching job so he gets the hell off MNF and I can watch again without getting sick.

  23. 10kmp says:
    Dec 6, 2011 8:15 AM
    Gruden’s an a$$ kisser of the highest order. Anything he says I take with a grain of salt because he’s ALWAYS fawning over a player. He has no credibility as an analyst because he isn’t honest. I don’t care for the current MNF broadcast team, but at least Jaworski seems honest in his assessments, and sometimes that means saying something negative Jonny boy… and these “Chucky” photo’s run with all the stories about Gruden kill me. He’s about as scary as Bambi. The night he let Keyshawn Johnson berate and abuse him on the sideline on Monday Night Football I lost all respect for Gruden, and the Chucky persona instantly died. What a phony…

    =======================

    Translation; “I wish he took our team to a Super Bowl..what a telegenic, coach, I hate it…why does he get so much press”

  24. dawkattack says:
    Dec 6, 2011 12:48 AM
    The man who finished tony dungy’s lunch

    =========================

    If Tony Dungy was so good, HE WOULD’VE WON A SUPER BOWL IN TAMPA

    and before you get started…he had Peyton Manning, perhaps the greatest qb of this generation not to win more than one Super Bowl (thanks to Tom Brady)

  25. Maybe a real journalist would have looked beyond Monday Night Football and viewed some of Gruden’s sit downs with incoming NFL QB’s as they prepare for the draft.

    Gruden is highly critical and hands out some tough love to guys that are about to become multi-millionaires. It’s some of the best football analysis on TV.

    ————————————————–

    Excellent point. Gruden on MNF, I can take him or leave him. But when he sits down with these QBs that are projected high picks in an upcoming draft, that is can’t miss television. He gives the proper amount of praise, but also questions a lot of decisions and intellect these guys have. It’s great stuff.

  26. Tatum,

    Your post is total BS. Let’s expand on your attempt at logic. So, Harbaugh is winning with Singletary’s players? So, Walsh wasn’t a great coach because he had Montana? Young? I’m not a fan of Dungy. But if you discount his SuperBowl win because he had a great QB, how many other head coaches don’t rate your approval based on their personnel?

    Go Lions! Go Badgers!

  27. I don’t think highly of Gruden or Shanahan. Both have been fired. Both were one hit wonders who have grown their own “mystique” to land big contracts.

    Gruden made extremely poor decisions after he won with Dungy’s team. He was fired because he couldn’t build a team or develop a QB on his own (Dungy went on to build another team and consistently contend for and win a title). He only won the SB because he knew all the Oakland plays, not because he did a great job of coaching. Immediately after the SB his team disintegrated.

    Shanahan only won with a QB named Elway. He consistently made screwed up decisions after Elway retired and has never been able to develop any other QB, and never been able to contend for a title.

    They are both over-rated.

  28. Gruden isn’t overrated. I’ll always hold him in high esteem for what he did in Oakland. The officials screwed him out of a Superbowl! He knew it, that’s why he left.

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