The speculation has been running like an undercurrent to the entire NFL season: would Super Bowl-winning coach John Gruden return to the sideline for the 2018 season? There’s no doubt Gruden is the most desirable “not currently coaching” coach out there. The speculation that Gruden would leave his job with Monday Night Football began first in the city where Gruden won his championship. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came into the 2017 season with high hopes. Featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks, the Bucs looked to be the spoilers in the NFC, a tough and talented team with offensive weapons most teams couldn’t match.
Then the Bucs started losing, and losing, and losing. When it was clear the team from Tampa would not even finish 500, the rumors began in earnest. Every day the local sports writers stoked the fires of a Gruden return. Then, in one quick press conference, those rumors were squashed. It came before the final week of the regular season. The Bucs would keep their current coach. Gruden, who lives in Tampa, would not be coaching there … at least not this year.
Then the other headline dropped: Gruden was going to the Raiders … probably … maybe … stay tuned…The day after recent Raiders coach Jack Del Rio got the ax, Gruden was on ESPN radio talking football. Inevitably, he was asked: if not the Bucs, what about the Raiders? Those Raiders are the team Gruden coached before leaving for Tampa.
Gruden was as coy as the guy once called “Chuckie” could be, saying he’d “spoken” with the Raiders and that it was “a good meeting.” Gruden added all the expected soundbites you make when you are pretending not to be too interested in a gig you’ve already been offered: “I have a lot of respect for the Raiders football organization…” The interviewer pressed and, finally, Gruden showed his cards … if just a bit. “I think there’s a good chance… I’m excited about where I’m at in terms of studying the game and preparing to come back and coach… I just don’t want to sit here and speculate.”
It would be an interesting transition for Gruden if he does take the Raiders job. There’s reportedly a ton of money – and possibly an ownership stake – on the table. Plus, the Raiders are about to move to Las Vegas. Is there a head coach out there who would relish the attention, the energy, and the hot spotlight of Sin City more than Gruden?
And it wouldn’t be the first time a former NFL coach was rehired by his old team … it wouldn’t even be the first time the Raiders have done it. So, is Gruden returning to the sideline, to roam the sideline, and grimace in Las Vegas? We’ll likely know very soon.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.