ESPN removes reference to Jon Gruden leaving from PTI broadcast


We’ve noted a few times this season that speculation about Jon Gruden leaving the Monday Night Football booth to return to coaching could make for some delicate situations at ESPN. We’ve seen another example of that today.

According to Deadspin, accidentally published an audio file containing everything that was said before, during and after Wednesday’s taping of Pardon the Interruption, and that included comments about Gruden leaving ESPN — which ESPN edited out of the show when it aired.

The comments were made by Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC, who said in an interview with hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon that Gruden would anger the ESPN brass if he were to quit his Monday Night Football job to go back to the sideline.

King’s full comments were, “I think at some point Jon Gruden definitely will go back to a sideline. I think your bosses at ESPN would be miffed, to put it mildly, if that happened this year, for a very simple reason: They dumped Jaws out of the booth to give the booth totally to Gruden. And if he takes off this year, I think there would be a lot of dissatisfaction, naturally. But I think the one thing Gruden will look at — that I would, too — is, Am I going to have a chance to win with the quarterback? Why are the Indianapolis Colts succeeding? Because they have Andrew Luck. Why if there was talent around RG3 would the Redskins be succeeding? Because they’ve got a mature, good quarterback. Dolphins are better than we thought they would be. They have a quarterback. Russell Wilson in Seattle. If you don’t have a quarterback, if I’m Jon Gruden, there’s no way I’m going. I’m not going to try to replicate what happened in Tampa, when I had to take Shaun King and Brad Johnson and all those guys and try to win with them. I’m going to a place where I know I have a chance with a quarterback.”

I asked a source at ESPN to explain why King’s comments were taken out of the broadcast and was told the interview was edited because it ran long: King, Kornheiser and Wilbon talked for eight and a half minutes, which meant about three and a half minutes had to be excised to fit it into the Five Good Minutes segment. ESPN says taking out King’s thoughts on Gruden (as well as comments about Colin Kaepernick and Ed Reed) was simply a matter of timing.

ESPN and Gruden have both said that he has a long-term contract with the network, and yet almost everyone in the NFL world believes that if the right coaching job comes along, Gruden will bolt. Whether you hear that talk on ESPN or not.

15 responses to “ESPN removes reference to Jon Gruden leaving from PTI broadcast

  1. The only statement I want to hear coming out of ESPN is that they have parted ways with Chris Berman and that he will never be associated with another sporting event, television broadcast, or so much as taking out their trash…ever again. He has made watching stuff about football painful over the last few decades.

  2. Michael Wilbon just hates Boston so much. On the leaked audio he went out of his way to bring Brady into the concussion and qb hits issue. Brady hasn’t drawn many if any roughing penalties this year. I guess it’s envy… I respect Wilbon more and more as the years go by.

  3. Maybe ESPN could conduct an experiment whereby the the only voice heard is the field announcements and the head referee. Just rely on the field mikes for the sound of the QB and and defense. This would introduce a new “True field experience” without the blabbering talking of the booth. At least offer it as an option. Any info on injuries could be typed on the screen bottom.

  4. You know what angers me about the media? They do not give what people truly want.

    We have email and message boards that criticize Jon Gruden 24/7 and they keep him on?

    It is so stupid that television networks operate with the outdated Nielsen ratings system what it is really a methodology based on case studies (essentially).

    Back in the day nobody knew what people were watching and the genius (I say that facetiously) known as Nielsen decided to draw conclusions based on focus groups.

    We have so much technology and this thing called the Internet, but television networks Are unwilling to go on people’s requests Or how they express themselves or their ideas online?

  5. While I’m not a huge Gruden fan I do believe he could become another John Madden in broadcasting. His QB school looks like a yearly event and MNF will be around forever. If he leaves that booth I don’t see him getting another shot at it when his coaching career ends. Same with Mariucci. You hear talk of him going back to coaching but he is doing well at the NFLN

  6. If Gruden leaves to coach I think ESPN promotes Trent Dilfer to the booth. He has been doing the late Monday night game in the first week of the season the past couple of years.

  7. re: Gruden in the MNF booth

    Part of why I mute the sound on MNF (and most other) games is because Gruden, ever aware that he may be coaching for for one of these teams, laces all his comments with flattery. After awhile it just comes across as insincere.

    The quality of game commentary is not all his fault though. By the second half of any game, all announcers engage in idle chatter, having used all their good factoid material earlier in the game. Unlistenable.

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