Until former Raiders and Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden returns to coaching — and he will at some point — Gruden will go through an annual episode of angst regarding whether this year is the year he should come back.
This year, the angst looks to be starting early.
In an appearance on the latest Rich Eisen Podcast, the host (coincidentally named Rich Eisen) inquired about a possible return.
Asked Eisen: “So it’s something that you’re not seeking, but if it seeks you out, you’ll listen to a coaching opportunity?”
“Again, I’m not even thinking about it right now,” Gruden said. “I’m totally blessed to be doing what I’m doing. It’s my second year [with Monday Night Football] and I think I’m getting a little bit better [at] broadcasting. Hopefully we can finish strong and put together a real solid season, but what the future has in store, I have no idea, but in the time being, I’m going to prepare myself like I always have to stay on top of what’s going on.”
In other words, Gruden could be back in coaching as soon as next year.
He has been linked most prominently with the 1-5 Browns, given his past relationship with team president Mike Holmgren. And, as a practical matter, Gruden’s comments could make some current coaches leery about welcoming Gruden to practice and otherwise sharing strategy and secrets for purposes of the broadcast, if they’ll be once again competing with Gruden as soon as January.
And so it will be hard for Gruden to have it both ways. He’ll need to declare his intentions soon, or he’ll eventually be getting a frozen deltoid when he shows up for production meetings — especially when he goes to Cincinnati on November 8 for a game featuring two of the Browns’ division rivals, the Steelers and the Bengals.