It won’t be long before Jon Gruden will have more years in the broadcast booth than he spent on NFL sidelines as a head coach.
Gruden coached 11 years in the NFL, four with the Raiders and seven with the Buccaneers. He won one Super Bowl.
Now he’s entering his ninth year as an ESPN announcer, and by 2019, his announcing career will have lasted as long as his coaching career. And then maybe even longer.
That means his coaching career is probably over. Teams aren’t likely to hire a coach who hasn’t been on the sidelines for nine years.
And the Bucs are putting him in their Ring of Honor, a sign they think his coaching days are over. But for some reason, Gruden likes to keep his name in the coaching mix. It sounds like an ego thing.
He can’t stop talking about returning.
“I’d like to give coaching one more try,” Gruden told the Ocala Star-Banner back in 2013.
And in April of this year, he told the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Star-Sentinel, “One of these days, maybe (I will coach). Who knows? I am preparing to do that.’’
And he elaborated more in a recent interview with Pewter Report, a Buccaneers fan site.
“I am preparing myself to come back,” Gruden said. “I am. Every day. I’m preparing to come back.”
“It helps me in my broadcasting, and I think if you lose that edge … you can’t come back unless you are totally wired with college football, personnel schemes, the CBA, how people are practicing, trends, you know. You’ve got to stay on top of this stuff.”
But then he also said, “I love ESPN.’’
And after that interview, he told the Tampa Bay Times, “No. Nothing has changed.’’
What hasn’t changed is that Gruden wants people to remember he was once a coach.
If he wanted to coach, he should have come back five years ago. He says he’s staying on top of things, but that doesn’t seem to be the same thing as actually coaching.
And it probably wouldn’t end well if he was hired.
Granted, it worked for the Rams when they hired Dick Vermeil in 1997, 15 years after after he quit the Eagles citing burnout. Vermeil won a Super Bowl and then quit again, which he soon regretted.
On the other hand, Joe Gibbs won three Super Bowls during a Hall of Fame career with the Redskins and retired after the 1992 season. Owner Dan Snyder convinced him to return in 2004, and he went just 31-36 in four years and retired for good.
Gruden has to hope he doesn’t get an offer from a team wanting him to coach again.
That way he can live the good life as a high-paid announcer and stroke his ego by dropping hints that he might coach again without having to actually prove it.