The announcement that the Raiders have drawn the Hard Knocks short straw came with no reaction from Raiders coach Jon Gruden. That reaction is coming on Thursday.
Gruden will meet with reporters at roughly 3:30 p.m. ET tomorrow, in connection with the team’s mandatory minicamp. And at that point we’ll get a feel regarding just how mandatory Oakland’s submission to the will of HBO and NFL Films was, because it was clear before word came that the Raiders will be doing Hard Knocks that they didn’t want to do it. (Indeed, the press release trumpeting the news has no quotes from the head coach.)
Gruden last met with the media on Tuesday, before the announcement came that the Raiders will be doing Hard Knocks. At one point near the end of the session, he said (with some distinct sarcasm) while discussing rookie running back Josh Jacobs, “Who knows, maybe Hard Knocks will come and cover that. That would awesome, wouldn’t it?”
Asked by a reporter for his reaction to brother Jay Gruden trying to lobby for Oakland to be the Hard Knocks team (and not Washington), Jon Gruden said, “I’m not talking to my brother again.”
Jon Gruden will be talking to the media again, and it’s hard not to wonder whether he knew that the Hard Knocks cup was coming his way when he spoke to reporters on Tuesday, even if the reporters didn’t know.
The Raiders were one of five teams that, in theory, could have been compelled to appear on the show. The relatively late date of the announcement has been interpreted as an indication that none of the five wanted to do it. And it’s possible that some sort of backroom deal was done to get the Raiders to agree.
Or maybe the league simply said to the Raiders, “Look, we let you move to Las Vegas, you’re getting the draft next year, and you’re going to be in the Super Bowl rotation. Just shut up and do it.”
But Gruden is never one to shut up, and that could make for an entertaining press conference on Thursday, one for which NFL Films may want to show up, since Gruden’s remarks could end up being compelling enough to put in the first episode of this year’s show.