Next season, for the first time since 2008, Jon Gruden will be wearing a headset on an NFL sideline instead of in the broadcast booth. But the new Oakland Raiders head coach kept a careful eye on teams across the league during his time away, and Gruden said he feels a tinge of envy toward his counterparts in New England.
The Raiders lured Gruden away from his role as an analyst on ESPN’s Monday Night Football with a massive 10-year contract reportedly worth $100 million. At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis Wednesday, Gruden said that he’d met with many organizations as part of his television gig to examine their facilities and business strategy.
When a reporter asked him what he learned from his trips to Gillette Stadium, Gruden laughed.
“Man, I’m envious of the Patriots,” Gruden said. “I really am.”
Gruden, who won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003, lauded Bill Belichick’s ability to find versatile players that can adapt on a weekly basis.
“They don’t care how they beat you either,” he said. “They’re not afraid to use the 60 minute clock to beat you in the final seconds and they’re not afraid to blow you out either…It’s just a pleasure to watch them adapt every year to the new rules and to the new men on their roster and on their coaching staff. It all starts with Belichick and Tom Brady, certainly, but the people behind the scenes there deserve a lot of credit.”
Although Gruden seems to be a big fan of the way Belichick runs his organization, he was fine with the result of Super Bowl LII.
“I was just happy for the Eagles fans. Those people deserved that, you know, it was really cool,” he said.
Advances in analytics and technology have revolutionized the sport in the years since Gruden stepped away, but he doesn’t plan on using that newfangled ‘GPS’ as he tries to ‘throw the game back to 1998.’
“I still think that doing things the old fashioned way is a good way and we’re going to try to lean the needle that way a little bit,” Gruden said.
Gruden’s first stint as the Raiders head coach began in 1998 and lasted until the infamous ‘Tuck Rule’ loss against New England in 2001. While the defeat spelled the end of Gruden’s time in Oakland, the controversial decision launched the Patriots dynasty.
The Patriots and Raiders won’t meet in the 2019 regular season, but Gruden could have his shot at revenge if Derek Carr leads Oakland to the playoffs. Assuming, of course, the team that turns Gruden green with envy makes it there as well.