Pro Football Weekly is reporting that Jon Gruden is “in line to rejoin the Raiders’ organization in a prominent role.” Whether as coach or otherwise, PFW believes Gruden is “well-positioned” to revitalize a downtrodden organization that hasn’t legitimately sniffed at the playoffs since 2002.
Gruden recently removed himself from consideration for the University of Tennessee head coaching job, despite reports that Jimmy Haslam, Cleveland Browns owner and son of Tennessee booster, Jim Haslam, offered Gruden part-ownership of the Browns to coach at Tennessee. A strange, lucrative offer, to be sure. But Gruden is no stranger to them. Since his abrupt firing in 2008, Gruden has been rumored to be drawing interest from the Miami Dolphins, the University of Miami, the St. Louis Rams, the Dallas Cowboys, the Cleveland Browns, and the San Francisco 49ers. The common theme among them: Gruden has consistently chosen Monday Night Football.
In 2010, Gruden responded to rumors of his interest in the University of Miami coaching position by saying, “I am committed to Monday Night Football and to ESPN. I enjoy working with Mike (Tirico), (Ron Jaworski) and our entire crew and am just trying to get better at this job.”
In 2011, after reports of Gruden’s interest in returning to coaching, Gruden signed a five-year contract extension with ESPN.
In 2012, amidst rumors of his interest in Tennessee, Gruden’s agent, Bob Lamonte, responded, “[This rumor], to me, is just a fantasy world. … Jon has made it clear he’s committed to ESPN.”
Whether the statements made by Gruden’s agent are true or not, history would suggest that Gruden doesn’t have much interest in returning to the sidelines. If he were to return, Gruden would likely want complete control of the franchise, something that wouldn’t jive well with the Raiders’ current structure. Though PFW believes that Gruden has a relationship with Raiders’ general manager Reggie McKenzie, it seems unlikely that said relationship would facilitate McKenzie’s surrender of his GM duties. Plus, if Gruden is hired as head coach, McKenzie would have to fire current head coach Dennis Allen, who was McKenzie’s first hire as GM. In all, the Gruden to the Raiders’ rumors seem more like wishful thinking.