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ESPN president: Jon Gruden is a star, we’ll ride him

gruden-1 Getty Images

When we surveyed PFT Planet shortly after ESPN announced that Ron Jaworski would be moved off the Monday Night Football broadcast, a clear majority of you said that was the wrong move. But ESPN continues to believe that Jon Gruden is the commentator the fans want to hear.

ESPN president John Skipper says the decision to pull Jaworski from the booth wasn’t a reflection of his work, but was a result of ESPN going all-in on Gruden.

“Jaws is great,” Skipper said, via Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated. “What we are mostly trying to do is we want to ride Gruden. Gruden is a star. You have seen his QB show. He has a lot of personality. He has a lot to say. There was some concern that he and Jaws sounded a little bit the same in the booth. We just thought it would help viewers sort of understand who was there. Our sense is we ride Mr. Gruden a little bit. I think he can be a big star.”

The reality, however, is that the best broadcasters are the ones who recognize that the players on the field are the stars. John Madden was the biggest star there’s ever been in an NFL broadcast booth, and one of the traits that made Madden great is that relished using his role to elevate otherwise overlooked players, especially offensive linemen. Gruden can come across like he’s too interested in hearing himself talk, and when he does talk he can focus too much on telling viewers how wonderful the quarterbacks are.

It’s also fair to ask whether ESPN is wise to go all-in on Gruden when he could choose at any time to get back into coaching. Gruden is only 48, and if he gets the itch to coach again, he could leave ESPN with a big hole to fill in its Monday Night Football booth.

But ESPN knows what it’s getting with Gruden, and it’s moving forward with him as its most prominent voice.

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67 Responses to “ESPN president: Jon Gruden is a star, we’ll ride him”
  1. blitz87 says: May 16, 2012 1:10 PM

    That’s what she said.

  2. wstover says: May 16, 2012 1:11 PM

    John Gruden makes me not want to watch MNF. “Somebody just needs to step up and make a play”
    DUH!

  3. 12strikes says: May 16, 2012 1:12 PM

    ESPN better hope that Andy Reid does not lose his job. I just have this feeling that Gruden is (A) Waiting for the Eagles job (B) Would jump at the Eagles job if offered.

  4. johnmaddenslovechild says: May 16, 2012 1:14 PM

    I still think it was a mistake to fire him from the bucs. He’s not a coach that comes around everyday.

  5. flaccodelic says: May 16, 2012 1:14 PM

    “I tell you what, this guy [insert first and last name here] for the [insert city and team name here]? He came to play! He’s a FOOTBALL player!”

    What a star.

  6. tombradyallday says: May 16, 2012 1:15 PM

    classic chucky face up above

  7. thingamajig says: May 16, 2012 1:19 PM

    Liked him as a coach and his QB shows are good but sorry ESPN he’s terrible on MNF.

  8. nnagi says: May 16, 2012 1:21 PM

    Gruden is terrible in the booth, he’s painful to listen to, letting Jaws go was a serious mistake…

  9. avanderlay says: May 16, 2012 1:22 PM

    I think most serious football fans can agree ESPN blows in a myriad of ways and pulling Jaws just dumps down MNF even more.

    Mayock and Collinsworth are far and away my favorite commentators.

  10. jcspiggle says: May 16, 2012 1:22 PM

    Jon Gruden is a star? Why can’t he be a star in someone else’s sky?

    He’s useless.

  11. dsimp724 says: May 16, 2012 1:22 PM

    I always thought the stars were on the field not the booth

  12. schmitty2 says: May 16, 2012 1:26 PM

    The obvious issue with Gruden is he is not objective. He praises everyone when deep down he knows that some players are lacking in talent. At least Jaws called it like he saw it

  13. CKL says: May 16, 2012 1:27 PM

    HAHAHAHA, is that gru-dog’s version of the”Blue Steel” pose?

  14. rootintootinnootin says: May 16, 2012 1:27 PM

    Anyone besides Kornheiser. I liked him on the radio. On tv, PTI or football, he’s awful. Really awful.

    I wonder how he even got a job at ESPN?

  15. The Deep Dig says: May 16, 2012 1:28 PM

    Gruden is a very overrated media hit in my view.

  16. wvuandsteelers says: May 16, 2012 1:28 PM

    I’m still shocked this guy is not coaching.

  17. avanderlay says: May 16, 2012 1:30 PM

    P.S. Madden was great because he didn’t take himself too seriously and would come across as humble quite often (especially towards the end when he was getting more senile). Gruden might try, but he doesn’t have an ounce of that humility. The man is all ego.

  18. dukemarc says: May 16, 2012 1:32 PM

    “You have seen his QB show.”

    Actually, I turn off ESPN every time that crap comes on for the simple reason that Gruden has no idea what he’s talking about.

    Jon Gruden drafted the following QBs during his time as a Head Coach for the Raiders and Bucs:

    Marques Tuiasospo
    Chris Simms
    Brad Gradkowski
    Josh Johnson

    How exactly is he an expert of Quarterbacks? None of those guys are starting caliber and only Gradkowski deserved a #2 spot.

  19. pftfan says: May 16, 2012 1:34 PM

    It’s funny, because Sunday Night Football on NBC completely blows away ESPN’s Monday Night Football.

    From the overall production to the talent in the booth and studio, it’s not even close.

    ESPN should take cues from NBC on how to do a primetime NFL broadcast. Never thought I would’ve said that 5 years ago.

  20. realitycheck21 says: May 16, 2012 1:38 PM

    I enjoy Gruden. He’s entertaining, has personality and also brings positivity to the table. I get tired of all the negative comments from talk radio and the tv football shows. He even makes me laugh a couple of times usually during the course of the broadcast. He’s definitely an asset.

  21. dumptrucked says: May 16, 2012 1:39 PM

    This is why I hate ESPN, NBC has a wonderful broadcast booth with AL and Chris… Sunday night football is a great production… monday night by the four letter network is a disaster.

  22. lumjack32 says: May 16, 2012 1:39 PM

    “I’ll tell you what Mike. This guy just LOVES football!”

    -ESPN superstar

  23. gisellichek says: May 16, 2012 1:41 PM

    John Gruden is not a booth guy… He is a football coach and he said “I miss coaching” … he is biding his time… He is waiting for the right gig.

    I have to admit… I like him as a comentator…

  24. suicidalionsfan says: May 16, 2012 1:42 PM

    ” I just think that ESPN president, John Skipper, does a TREMENDOUS job. There isn’t a network president out there that does a better job. He’s without peers. Just a SPECIAL boss ” ~

    John Gruden

  25. eaglesw00t says: May 16, 2012 1:42 PM

    Jaworski was good. Gruden isnt.

    I wont be watching football on ESPN anymore because I refuse to listen to that broadcast team.

    Conga rats ESPN, you lost a viewer.

  26. gunpowderjones says: May 16, 2012 1:43 PM

    These comments just further show how out of touch ESPN is with the majority of the audience.

  27. noahbird says: May 16, 2012 1:47 PM

    Gruden and Jaws are not even close to being similar in the booth. That is silly.

  28. mvp43 says: May 16, 2012 1:47 PM

    He sort of looks like Goodell.

  29. jimw81 says: May 16, 2012 1:49 PM

    If eagles hire him after Reid is gone, they will go back to dark ages for sure. Although I hate Andy Reid for a mistakes he has made who are going to replace him with? That’s the 64 thousand dollar question no one can answer.

  30. jtbndy says: May 16, 2012 1:49 PM

    Gruden would be a much better announcer if he wasn’t so concerned about saying something negative about a potential future employer.

    The fact he never says anything negative and hypes up terrible players and teams like they’re HOF candidates is obnoxious.

  31. meandjuliojonesdownbytheschoolyard says: May 16, 2012 1:50 PM

    Jaws was great, big mistake. Gruden is full of himself and doesn’t give balanced analysis.

  32. pb420 says: May 16, 2012 1:50 PM

    @12 strikes:

    Very good point. I’m a Bucs fan, and remember the NFC Championship Bucs vs Eagles, and the friendly vibe between Gruden and Jeff Laurie before the game, seems like they go back a ways. Could easily see this scenario playing out. Still would rather hear Jaws in the booth than Chucky.

  33. jtbndy says: May 16, 2012 1:52 PM

    His QB show is only good when hes interviewing lower QB talent that he can get away with grilling.

    RG3 comes on? Let’s talk about those socks! What’s the deal with those socks? Look at this tape on when you received the Heisman, how do you think those other guys felt?

  34. weepingjebus says: May 16, 2012 1:53 PM

    I’d pay good money for a cable package that replaces anything he says with the mwow mwow mwow of Charlie Brown’s teacher.

  35. delmonte55 says: May 16, 2012 2:06 PM

    I agree with ESPN Gruden and Jaws sounded exactly alike in the booth. I think they were smart with going with Gruden only and giving Jaws other projects. As for everyone having their overused sayings, How about Jaws with “It’s an easy read for a veteran Quarterback”

  36. steelpalace302 says: May 16, 2012 2:08 PM

    If you listen to Gruden he thinks every player on the field is the best. He needs to grow a pair and tell it like it is. Im sick of hearing the guy say oh that player is great I like him alot.

  37. ytsejamer1 says: May 16, 2012 2:08 PM

    Man…they LOVE that guy!!!!

  38. tombrookshire says: May 16, 2012 2:11 PM

    Easy to understand. They are looking for the next Madden. They may be all in, but is Gruden?He softens his criticism seemingly to avoid alienating potential employers. However, a sign that Gruden is all in and ready to fill Madden’s shoes is more objectivity and criticism when necessary. Jaws was the consumate analyst. I don’t know who was better prepared to talk football to the public. However, he doesn’t have the rock star looks or the Madden-like potential to be around a long time. To get the most from Gruden, they need to get him to forget about coaching until he actually appears on a football field with a whistle.

  39. steelpalace302 says: May 16, 2012 2:11 PM

    It also goes to show you espn’s pres who makes million a year has no idea what his viewers want

  40. cuda1234 says: May 16, 2012 2:17 PM

    Someone please remind me why the media is in love with this guy. He won his first year in Tampa while dismantling the ship that Dungy built before crashing it on the rocks and abandoning ship.

    How does that translate into football expert?

  41. truthassassin says: May 16, 2012 2:19 PM

    For those who actually know Gruden’s coaching history… the guy was a great coach… and he is entertaining… lot of haterade flowing on here

  42. homelanddefense says: May 16, 2012 2:19 PM

    he is a star? More like a punchline. The morning radio show here in Boston does a skit after every one of his broadcasts (MNF and QB Camp) and it almost writes itself with the crazy stuff that guy says.

  43. steelpalace302 says: May 16, 2012 2:22 PM

    why isnt he coaching ? Ill tell you he has a .577 winning %. Thats why. He cant coach just like he sucks in the booth.What team wants a coach with a .577 %

  44. nflofficeadmin says: May 16, 2012 2:24 PM

    Gruden will never coach again – as long as ESPN continues to feed his egoism he will be content to believe his star is brightest in the booth.

  45. rajbais says: May 16, 2012 2:25 PM

    Yes, but ESPN also likes a guy whose name is hard for me to say and makes me wanna use mouthwash when I say it, Skip Bayless!!!

    Okay, time to go to the sink and use my cool mint Listerine!!!!

  46. dukemarc says: May 16, 2012 2:25 PM

    truthassassin says:
    May 16, 2012 2:19 PM
    For those who actually know Gruden’s coaching history… the guy was a great coach… and he is entertaining… lot of haterade flowing on here
    ———————–

    If he was a great coach, he wouldn’t have been out of a job for 4+ years, now would he?

  47. theralph2012 says: May 16, 2012 2:28 PM

    I dont see why they don’t have a booth of Tirico, Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless, with Gruden running the sidelines.

  48. pongonfl says: May 16, 2012 2:29 PM

    I dislike both of them. Gruden marginally less then Jaws.

  49. mediasloppy says: May 16, 2012 2:33 PM

    I don’t mind him. I think it’s kind of funny how much he can get into stupid details that a lot of the general people can understand. But if you know football and follow it faithfully, he can be annoying.

    Mostly I think people like him, because he gets so excited and animated. Like he popped some Viagra or something.

  50. roadtrip3500 says: May 16, 2012 2:52 PM

    I have nothing against Tirico – I think he’s a solid PBP. I’d put him below Al Michaels/Joe Buck/Jim Nantz, but in there with Greg Gumbel and Kenny Albert. On the other hand, Gruden always sounds more like he’s scouting than analyzing… as if he’s trying to build a potential team in his head for when he becomes a coach again.

    But Gruden is going to discover the same thing that is likely creeping into Bill Cowher’s head… the longer you stay out of coaching, the harder it will be to return to it.

    If Cowher is “waiting” for the Giants job, he’ll likely be waiting at least 3 more years because Mara/Tisch/Reese will probably extend Coughlin another 3 years beyond 2012. If Coughlin opts to retire after the 2015 season, Cowher will have been out for 9 years and no one will be interested. Joe Gibbs coming back after 12 years was out of desperation by Snyder… the Giants won’t be desperate for a coach when Coughlin steps down. Even if Gruden was offered a coaching job for the 2013 season, he will have been out 4 years. “Recycled” coaches that are on the want list are usually back within 2 years – and most teams are looking for the next Mike Tomlin than a retread.

  51. themonster49 says: May 16, 2012 3:00 PM

    Personally, I haven’t liked hearing him speak and I haven’t liked the things I’ve seen him do. From start to eventual finish.

  52. folkcrusader says: May 16, 2012 3:03 PM

    The reason Gruden isn’t coaching is not due to the beginning and middle of his coaching career, those were pretty good. The reason is how he ended it in TB. He and Allen left that franchise in shambles and every owner in the NFL knows it. If he is hired in the future it will be for his media power, not his ability to run a football team.

    As far as he and Jaws, I preferred Jaws because I found him much better prepared. Jaws could actually teach you something. I think the real problem is that next to Jaws Chucky looked kind of dumb. Heck, sometimes Jaws would straight out call him out on his BS. I don’t think Chucky liked that, and I don’t think his masters at ESPN liked it.

  53. Canned Heat says: May 16, 2012 3:04 PM

    1) John Skipper is either out of touch with his audience, or clinically in need of help. He still thinks Chris Berman is hard core and cutting edge too…that should tell you plenty.

    2) truthassassin says:May 16, 2012 2:19 PM

    For those who actually know Gruden’s coaching history… the guy was a great coach… and he is entertaining… lot of (I’ll help you, it’s HATRED) flowing on here.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I watched Gruden evolve here in Green Bay from virtual waterboy and he turned into the same thing that Holmgren did when all was said and done. Almost. He used talent that was provided for him everywhere he went to make himself look better than his true abilities. When they got to the top and had bigger roles, they both crapped the bed. Ron Wolf gave Holmgren his weapons in Green Bay…Holmgren never found anything close to that afterward….and never will.
    Gruden took 2 clubs that were peaking and built by others that were on the brink of a championship and ran as far as he could before the bottom fell out. They BOTH think they are something they are not, and both have egos of enormous size.
    Jaws could be annoying and a tad bit over the top on some feedback when explaining something, but was heads, shoulders, and ballsack above anything Gruden brings to the booth. Anything of course, other than”THIS GUY crap.”
    Until MNF gets past the pissing matches between commentators that they think we all enjoy, it is going to be a revolving door circus.
    Something Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN has had figured out for years.
    And get some newer eye candy on the sidelines, Skipper….seriously.

  54. thejuddstir says: May 16, 2012 3:06 PM

    ESPN thinks that because millions watch the game that it means Gruden is “a star”. They don’t realize that millions “watch” the game with the volume down while listening to it on the radio. Gruden sucks bigtime and I bet if a poll were taken, it would prove true. Most fans want to listen to someone who is willing to be objective about the play on the field or a particular player and not be afraid to say something negative.

  55. thejuddstir says: May 16, 2012 3:08 PM

    Gruden gets far too much credit for winning a SB with Dungy’s team. Gruden failed in Oakland and ultimately failed in Tampa when he was dependent on his own decisions and drafting and not Dungy’s.

  56. laeaglefan says: May 16, 2012 3:12 PM

    I have to believe that if the Eagles job is ever open (like next January, maybe) and Gruden is available, the Eagles will certainly be interested and the Philly fans would welcome him with open arms. I don’t know if he could bring Philly a Super Bowl win, as Reid has failed so miserably to do since he’s been Head Coach, but at the very least he’d be more entertaining at press conferences!

  57. giantsfan2104 says: May 16, 2012 3:17 PM

    “Let me tell you about Jon Gruden! His analysis is superb, and his personality is a ratings magnet! Give this guy 5 years, and he will be one of the greatest commentators in all of sports!”

  58. ashoreinhawaii says: May 16, 2012 3:22 PM

    Good point that Gruden and Jaworski sound alike.
    The trouble with ESPN is that it still operates like a poor, struggling cable channel.
    They are CBS-rich, and should have A-level talent.
    Two pros in the booth, not three C-level talents.
    Gruden is embarrassing in the same way that Herm Edwards is embarrassing. Both love to hear their own voices and come off like has-been coaches talking down to viewers.

  59. cali49er707 says: May 16, 2012 3:22 PM

    i heard gruden last year say while watching the pitt vs sf game ” the 49ers have the best LB tandem in the league” then 2 weeks go by & im watching MNF & i hear gruden say ” the chicago bears have the two best LB’s in the game with briggs & urlacher” all i could do is laugh, i guess sometimes these guys will say anything to fill air time!!

  60. j0esixpack says: May 16, 2012 3:25 PM

    “John Madden was the biggest star there’s ever been in an NFL broadcast booth…”
    ————————————————–

    True but when the Jets finally get tired of Rex’s Ryan guarantees, he might challenge Madden in girth, if not height.

  61. rooney24 says: May 16, 2012 3:41 PM

    I love Jaws on TV, but like him more breaking down tape in a pregame than as an actual color commentator (not that he was bad at that).

    But, I can’t stand Gruden. He comes across as insincere as a stereotypical smarmy car salesman trying to make you believe what he says. To those that wonder why he isn’t coaching, why would he? He is following the John Madden/Brian Billick example. Win a SB, be considered a successful coach (at least by some), and get into the booth where there is WAY more job security. He keeps saying he is interested in coaching, but personally I feel that is just to drive up his price/leverage with ESPN.

  62. rayala3 says: May 16, 2012 3:46 PM

    ESPN is trying to please casual fans. They already have us the hardcore fans watching

  63. lucky5934 says: May 16, 2012 3:57 PM

    The same thing was said about Ron Jeremy.

  64. sdffa11 says: May 16, 2012 4:41 PM

    as en espn viewer who loves football, hear me when i say GRUDEN IS THE WORST ANNOUNCER

  65. bamasleeper13 says: May 16, 2012 6:10 PM

    I like Gruden, he cracks me up. I thought he was a great coach and I would love to see him back on the sidelines.

  66. zombiefan1000 says: May 16, 2012 6:16 PM

    So many negative comments 4 Gruden and i cldnt disagree more. Gruden is a star, has an excellent voice and is great at articulating what he’s seeing on the field 2 the viewers at home. My only complaint, and its an obvious one is that he is 2 complimentary and rarely critiques players OR coaches. That is clearly a strategic move 2 not ruffle any feathers once he returns 2 the sidelines. I think if he completely devotes himself to MNF and lets go of being so complimentary, he cld be one of the all time great announcers. I think he IS an asset 2 ESPN and i LOVE his QB shows! THIS GUY loves the game and I hope he is with MNF for the long haul!

  67. coltsluckdynasty says: May 16, 2012 10:42 PM

    NBC Sunday night football is superior. I really can’t stand chris collinsworth myself, he is far to critical of players that he could never imagine being on their level. ESPN on the other hand, is actually the WORST sports channel. I wish that NBC would have a lot more time dedicated to football throughout the year. I agree with everyone that says they turn down the TV during Monday night football. It’s borderline comical listening to gruden. Please NBC, more football, now that Warren sapp is getting more airtime again on the NFL network, I find myself turning the channel when he is on there.

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