Gruden’s gushing over Pryor reaches nausea-inducing levels


Some of you may have noticed that, over the past several months, we’ve stopped picking on ESPN.  It wasn’t a conscious decision, it just sort of happened.

For starters, plenty of other people fill the four-letter network watchdog role more capably and consistently that we ever could.  And now that we’re sort of mainstream, we’re less inclined to overtly throw darts at a Comcast/NBC competitor.  It just feels petty.  (Then again, it always felt petty, but it never really stopped me from doing it.)

Indeed, I never mentioned the ESPN book.  Not once.  MDS posted something football related from the clumsily crafted chunks of interviews with no real narrative, but for the most part I just didn’t care about the prospect of rushing to the keyboard with the latest “can you believe he/she said that?” snippet.  We’ve got too much of our own business to take care of to worry about ESPN, and so I’ll now do so only when encountering the most glaring and obvious problems.

Which leads me to the topic of this post.

Jon Gruden’s over-the-top butt-smooching and self-promotion, all in the name not just of getting another job in the NFL but having maximum options and leverage when he chooses to return, has risen to the level of nauseating.

I base my conclusion on the first few minutes of the special edition of his previously interesting QB Camp series, primarily since I couldn’t bring myself to keep watching it.  At the very top of the show, we’re greeted by Gruden proclaiming yet again that he doesn’t sleep very much, and that he gets in at 3:30 or 4:00 a.m.

“I’m nuts,” Gruden says.

Aactually, anyone who is actually impressed by that carefully-crafted effort to create the perception that Gruden works harder than everyone else is nuts.  Guys who truly work hard don’t feel compelled to tell the world that they work hard.  They just work hard, and they allow others to notice it and spread the word that, “Hey, that guy is a hard worker.”

Then came the opening disclaimer from Rece Davis, in which he explained that ESPN declined an opportunity to interview Pryor because agent Drew Rosenhaus wouldn’t let Pryor answer questions about whatever it is that happened at Ohio State.  So instead the session started with Gruden giving Pryor an open platform to say whatever he felt like saying about the situation at Ohio State, which amounted to a string of nonsensical buzzwords and talking points that Pryor was able to utter without fear of any meaningful follow up.

In other words, “We won’t interview Pryor because we can’t ask Pryor about Ohio State.  But we’ll let Pryor say whatever he wants about Ohio State, without pressing him for details or explanations as to the things he says about Ohio State.”

Then came the moment that caused me to press pause on the remote and delete the entire show from my DVR.  “You’d have been a top-flight Heisman Trophy candidate,” Gruden said regarding Pryor’s decision to leave Ohio State.

He would have been a top-flight Heisman Trophy candidate?  After sitting out the first five games due to the tats-for-gear controversy that ultimately brought down head coach Jim Tressel?

For me, something happened in that moment.  At that point, Gruden became not just a guy who desperately wants to say only good things about the people he covers so that he’ll have no burned bridges when he chooses to return to coaching.  At that point, Gruden became a caricature of a guy who desperately wants to say only good things about the people he covers so that he’ll have no burned bridges when he chooses to return to coaching.

It’s gotten to the point where his fundamental lack of authenticity possibly could hurt his efforts to return to coaching significantly more than anything bad he could have ever said about any player, coach, G.M., or owner.  And the saddest part is that Gruden, a talented and capable broadcaster, could be a cross-pollination of Madden and Cosell if only Gruden would be honest with himself and his audience.  Instead, he’s dangerously close to becoming a laughingstock.

It’s safe to say that, if/when he reads this, he’ll be pissed off.  (We know this because we’ve been told that other things we’ve written about him have pissed him off.)  The reality is that I’m trying to do for the guy that which no one else at ESPN is able or willing to do.

Put simply, the man who loves to talk about how little he sleeps really needs a wake-up call.

46 responses to “Gruden’s gushing over Pryor reaches nausea-inducing levels

  1. You know how Herm Edwards says “DON’T PRESS SEND!”?

    I’m thinking that’s something the author here should have taken into account. Not a smart article.

  2. Ouch, what a great post. So true. Its one thing to not be known as a cynic, its another to never ever have anything negative to say about any one or anything.

    I can’t blame Gruden for refusing to be a jerk, and sometimes it’s about what people *don’t* say about others that can be most telling. Gruden just leaves it up to his audience to read between the lines is my guess. Why burn bridges you don’t have to? Everyone likes Chuckie…

  3. Seriously if you look to Gruden for any real insight is like asking Andy Reid for diet recommendations. Not only is he not the guy that won the Super Bowl anymore, he’s not even interesting anymore. He basically is a politician now just a few catch phases and some general BS and you’ve got his platform.

    If he wanted to go into coaching there were plenty of chances in the last 2 yrs at the NFL and College level. You know he loves that every time a major coaching vacancy opens up someone mentions his name, but he turned them down to be the Sarah Palin of football will he or won’t he? It’s really starting t get annoying.

    By the way does any realize Herm Edwards never does that?

  4. Good critique, MF.

    Gruden would have a lot to give to broadcasting with an immense knowledge of football, analysis and constructive criticism, but he’s lost touch of himself, becoming a parody of his broadcaster-self, the brown-nosing and lack of honesty.

    He sold out.

  5. About Pryor – he’s helping out a young kid who messed up get a 2nd chance & start his career…He is highlighting his strengths as a person & football player…do you blame Gruden for that?

    I thought Gruden was tough on Clausen & some of the other QB camp series he has done before…

    Gruden has crafted himself into the biggest name draw in coaching for whenever he decides to return.

    I say he has played all his cards right from a marketing & career standpoint.

    I also agree to a certain level of what your saying Mike, but you know how television is…Gruden will not be the same guy coaching then he is in front of a camera.

  6. I think Gruden should get a head coaching job next season with one caveat…..

    He has to start every mediocre player he has talked up since getting behind a microphone for the entire season.

  7. Agreed. I think he’s pissing away a possible stellar career as a broadcaster for a mediocre career as a coach. Whenever I heard him last season I thought “if he’d only let loose, how entertaining would that be?” Of course, all broadcasts would then have to be on a 7-second delay.

  8. Chucky loves every QB on the planet except his own (however, he’s never developed a QB ever!) 10yr Vets have to deal with his B.S. complex offense & wordy play calls (totally not needed)

  9. Ah, so you finally come right out and admit you’re an NBC shill. About time.

    On an unrelated note, you better watch out. Gruden might start tweeting that’s he’s gonna give @PFT an ***-whoopin’.

  10. Chucky didn’t do anything wrong. He’s from Ohio.
    He didn’t get into Pryor’s head with heavy hitting because the NCAA still has a pending investigation.
    I’m not saying it was softball…. but to throw stones is just stupid and a slap at PFT’s cred.
    [Please… let more seep out then we’ll bury them
    both !]
    Honestly… what did you expect.
    I think T- Pry is going to SHOCK the NFL world if he stays healthy.
    As in Dion Sanders, “you can’t teach speed”.
    Those two are cut from the same cloth.
    No shidding.

  11. What would you expect? What did Keyshawn Johnson call him, a used car salesman? Sounds about right.

    If he’d actually give us a glimpse of some of the critiques of offensive play that Rich Gannon said made their battles in Oakland memorable or showed some of the fire he had when battling with his QB collection in Tampa, that would be interesting to hear because he has some great experience to call upon.

    He doesn’t have to turn into a bitter over-critical loser, but being Mr. Sunshine is annoying as well because we’re not getting insight from a football coach that we don’t already understand on the fan level.

  12. This is the ultimate post. Seriously, the best post in the country. Better than any post ever posted on any site. I’ve never seen another post that does what this post can do.


    Jon Gruden

  13. PSSS. I really just like beating traffic into the office and getting home before lunch.

    Your friend,


    PSSSS. I still need a job. Really bad. Anyone? Anyone?

  14. GRUDEN: “That was just a great play all-round. The defensive end did a great job beating that great offensive tackle on the snap. The QB showed great awareness, to step up in the pocket and throw a great pass. The linebacker read the whole play, and almost pulled off a great interception, but the receiver reached up top to haul in a great catch. What a great play. This is a great game, on a great day, with great fans in attendance, and a great atmosphere, both teams and their owners are just great guys, this is a great league to be involved in.”

    —Browns v Panthers

  15. Pretty opinionated article for someone that didn’t watch the entire episode.

    “Then came the moment that caused me to press pause on the remote and delete the entire show from my DVR. ‘You’d have been a top-flight Heisman Trophy candidate,’ Gruden said regarding Pryor’s decision to leave Ohio State.”

    Is it possible that this sentence that caused you to delete it could have been followed up with “if you hadn’t been caught up in the scandal”?

    Having said that…. your article is pretty spot on. Gruden sold out and if I were ESPN, I wouldn’t have offered to hype up TP with an episode without an agreement to a REAL interview. Weak stuff all around and a waste of time to watch.

  16. I spoke with Gruden concerning this article and he said that he had been up all night reading it and thought the author was the absolute greatest writer of all time. He also wanted it made known he read the article at 4:30am after he had worked out, ran three miles and studied 4 high school prospects at the QB position and after that he read the article.

    Gruden is the biggest phony in sports and if his careful manipulation of his image is what a team is looking for, then God help that team. He is an empty suit.

  17. Excellent article Mike and brutally honest IMO…

    Also love this admission:

    It just feels petty. (Then again, it always felt petty, but it never really stopped me from doing it.)

    Chucky has always been overrated…

  18. I totally agree. Watching the draft it was frustrating to watch him LOVE everyone out there and not have a real critique. Whether I agreed with them or not, at least the other guys have the balls to say they don’t think every player is the most amazing thing to come in decades.

  19. I used to be a huge fan of Gruden, thinking that we were going to get the guy from the sideline with the headset on, then slowly but surely we got this other guy, who is the complete opposite from the fiery, hard nosed, vulgar, bada$$ that let his players have it at the drop of a hat on any given Sunday. Something happen with Gruden from the time he left the field till the time he hit the broadcast booth, I don’t know if ESPN is to Gruden what LeBron James’ posse is to LeBron but whatever it is his really lost his edge and what made him such a “potentially” fantastic personality to have on the air.

    Anyway, fantastic article.

  20. Now this kid gruden… Wow look at that. Such an amazingly gifted athlete. People have things to say about him, he doesn’t care. He’s in there every single day at 3:30 AM workin his rear end off. I think this kid is going to make it.

    But really if gruden is going to support Pryor then I have lost respect for his opinion. Pryor cannot become an NFL qb. He could be quite the receiver though.

  21. gruden is a tool or make that fool maybe. for all his talk about loving these young players he sure wouldnt groom any in tampa. it will be fun watching him return to tampa for mnf this year though considering that he’ll either eat a big plate of crow and gush over the bucs or let his true feelings come out and actually be honest about a team

  22. while i think that some of these kids are dumb for being short sighted and not fully understanding that what they do for “payolla” has very negative consequences, i am certainly not going to bash them for taking hand outs while there`re schools make many millions of dollars off of their athletic ability and please don`t give me the free education bit. everyone knows the ncaa is minor league football.

  23. How does chucky become an authority? He walked into a Superbowl team, and did nothing with them thereafter.

    I watched every one of Pryor’s games. He has BUST written all over him. He is not the field general one needs at that position. Great athlete, but not an NFL QB.

  24. To me this is a non-story. Gruden works for ESPN. They tell him what they want done and how they want it, he’s just doing what his boss tells him. The article suggests that he has this tremendous discretion to speak/critique however he wants, but the bottom line is, he’s working for the WWL and if there’s anything we’ve learned, it’s that ESPN is not about journalism, or telling the real story. THEY are the ones concerned with not burning bridges (TV contracts, etc…) and the bottom line is, they’re the ones signing his paycheck so he’s not going to step out of line.
    I also can’t see how this could have any bearing on him getting another NFL coaching job. It’s insane to think that a GM or team president would even consider something so trivial in deciding whether to hire Gruden as a coach. He’s just doing what pretty much everyone else does at ESPN, which is toe the company line and enjoy his fat paycheck for not doing a ton of work…I can’t fault him for that

  25. Mike –

    What you dont get is that YOU have become exactly what you are accusing Gruden of being. You admitted it yourself in the article and excused yourself on the grounds of now being “mainstream.” Whatever. Ive seen you kiss up to Peter King at times when you know he deserved a ribbing for making a mistake. Youre no different than Gruden. Youre all playing the same game. Get over it.

    And also – use some common sense. When Gruden mentioned Pryor possibly being a Heisman candidate, he obviously meant IF Pryor hadnt gotten into trouble. Stop making things up.

  26. It was a good show. Despite Gruden’s words, I actually think it showed Pryor in a negative light. His football session outside was pretty bad, imho. For all the talk about him having a “cannon”, I didn’t see that. Compared to Newton, Mallett, and even Dalton, the ball didn’t seem like it came off his hand very well at all. And the wetball drill was an embarrassment. So what if Gruden kisses their butt. The proof is in the footage. He came across as an entitled, spoiled, hypocritical jerk. I mean he’s talking about how sorry he was for what happened with Tressel, and then the VERY next sentence he talks about how he “always cares for others before himself” etc. etc. I mean that was GOLD! Showed a lack of self-awareness, and heightened level of narcissism that you can’t get from a standard interview. So whatever one thinks of Gruden’s words, the actions speak louder. I hope the show continues.

  27. “We’ve got too much of our own business to take care of to worry about ESPN.”

    Really? Every other post on here is followed by the fact that the only reason it’s news is because there is no news due to the lockout.

  28. I really enjoyed this article. There was something like this posted on like a month ago that went into gruden’s manner when he interviews people. The most brutal thing is when he always starts out with that stuff about the fired football coaches league. It’s so awkward. I think he thinks it’s funnier than it is. Then again, much of gruden’s interaction with people is a pretty awkward.

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