In past years, the activation of the what-will-Jon-Gruden-do rumor mill has resulted fairly quickly in the announcement of a new “exclusive” deal with ESPN. It’s time for Gruden and ESPN to get “exclusive” again, or get off the pot.
Of course, this whole “exclusive” arrangement between Gruden and ESPN is meaningless. Given that ESPN repeatedly has declined to comment on whether “exclusive” means he can’t leave for a coaching job without violating his contract, it’s fair to assume he can. But the fanfare typically throws water on the scuttlebutt of a Gruden return to coaching.
This year, it’s been crickets from Chucky. Now that the speculation and reports are gathering like a swarm of locusts, each day that goes by without comment from ESPN or Gruden fuels the idea that he head of the FFCA is getting ready to remove one of the Fs.
As Peter King said last week on a portion of Pardon the Interruption that ended up on the cutting-room floor, ESPN can’t be happy about this. After exiling Ron Jaworski from the broadcast booth to convert Monday Night Football into THE JON GRUDEN SHOW (with mike tirico), ESPN has tried its best to nudge Gruden toward the decision that was made by men like John Madden, Tony Dungy, and likely Bill Cowher to embrace TV and ignore a possible return to coaching.
That said, there’s a good chance that even the latest report of a University of Tennessee offer that would include a stake in the Browns is the product of an overactive agent who is trying to maximize Gruden’s leverage in the hopes of getting him the best possible coaching offer or, at a minimum, to finagle even more money from a four-letter network that’s reportedly worth $40 billion.
Either way, if Gruden’s staying, he needs to say so. If he remains silent, it’s fair to assume he’s leaving.
Meanwhile, it’ll be interesting to see how thrilled Tom Coughlin and Mike Shanahan will be about Gruden, who has been linked to the Eagles job, attending Giants or Redskins practices in preparation for next Monday night’s game between the two teams. We’ve got a feeling that either or both will tell Gruden to stay away from their respective teams, given that he will potentially be coaching a competitor in less than two months.