Reality rarely undermines a good headline.
As Jon Gruden emerged from nearly a decade in the TV booth, someone close to him (his agent) leaked to multiple reporters that Gruden had signed a 10-year, $100 million contract with the Raiders. There’s only one problem with that: Seven months later, Gruden says it’s #fakenews.
“I’m not making $100 million, just so you know,” Gruden told Peter King for his weekly Football Morning in America column. Instead of elaborating on how the impression became so strong and accepted that Gruden is making $10 million per year, on average, over the next 10 years, Gruden opted to take a gratuitous slap at a guy who gets paid even more.
“Well, I never thought Tom Cruise, never thought his movies were any good but he’s making plenty of money,” Gruden said. “There’s a lot of things that I don’t understand. No disrespect to Tom Cruise. I’m sure he’s a great actor. But you know what? You just go about your life as hard as you can. You try to find something you love and you do the best you can at it. I never got into coaching for the money. I got into coaching because I wanted to be a quarterback coach. What the salary cap has become, what free agency has become — it’s amazing.”
But it’s apparently preferable for Gruden to gripe about how much Tom Cruise makes than to delve into the details of Gruden’s own deal, even though he allowed the impression to linger for months that he’s making nine figures.
The truth may be, as surmised at the time, that the full $100 million isn’t guaranteed. Meaning that if he’s fired at some point before the completion of the 2027 season, Gruden won’t be walking away with the balance of $100 million. Until then, the structure of the deal is believed to be more along the lines of $25 million over the first five years, and $75 million over the final five years. And if much if not most if not all of the final five years isn’t guaranteed then, no, Gruden’s not making $100 million.
But Tom Cruise definitely is.