With rumors flying that Jon Gruden could be eyeballing a return to coaching in 2010, ESPN has announced that Gruden has signed an “exclusive” multi-year agreement to remain with Monday Night Football.
Though the release is silent in this regard, the implicit message is that Gruden is off the market, not only for other broadcasting jobs but also for coaching jobs.
Frankly, we’re not sure we believe it. And unless and until ESPN discloses the relevant language of the contract, we’ll be suspicious. (Then again, we’re pretty much always suspicious. Primarily because everyone is pretty much always lying.)
Then again, it’s possible that another term of the contract — compensation — has prompted ESPN to pay Gruden the same amount of money he’d make as an NFL coach.
It’s also possible that ESPN and Gruden have opted to create the impression that he’s not thinking about returning to the NFL in order to throw water on concerns that some teams might have about Gruden being in the building when he might be less than two months from working with a competitor.
Regardless, the proof as to whether Gruden has made a long-term commitment to broadcasting will be in the pudding of Gruden’s commentary. Though he was applauded early on due primarily to the fact that he’s, you know, not Tony Kornheiser, Gruden has become even more glowing and effusive in his praise of the participants than Joe Theismann a/k/a Joey Sunshine.
Bottom line? If Gruden continues to be “Jonny Gumdrops,” we’ll conclude that this “exclusive” arrangement was aimed only at getting him through the current season without being treated as if the mother’s spit holding his hair down includes a high concentration of H1N1 virus.