To be successful at anything, you’ve got to pledge your entire heart into what you are doing.
Often people’s lives will be consumed by their dreams, interests and careers. This is the case for NFL color commentator and previous head coach Jon Gruden.
The love of football comes with a price. NFL has been said to stand for “Not For Long,” and Jon Gruden knows that first hand.
After being both traded and fired from head coaching jobs, Gruden remains somewhat bitter towards the team that he took to Super Bowl XXXVII as the youngest head coach ever to do so.
“I’m still emotional and upset about it to a degree when I think about it,” said Gruden on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.
Even though it was nearly ten years ago that he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their first ever Super Bowl win, he’s still breaking down film until four in the morning in what he calls the Fired Football Coaches Association. He’s not even a coach, just a color commentator and he hasn’t lost the desire to break down film, now that’s undeniable love.
Gruden has been captured by the game of football since a young age, as he watched his father Jim Gruden, who was an assistant coach at the University of Notre Dame. After his own college football career as a quarterback, Jon then began to make his way into the coaching world.
His first NFL job was for the San Francisco 49ers as a quality control coach, after time he moved up through the ranks by way of his in-depth knowledge and passion for football.
In 1998, owner and general manager of the Oakland Raiders, Al Davis, selected Jon Gruden to be the head coach of the team. Gruden was then the youngest to ever serve as a head coach in the NFL. After four seasons with the Raiders, Gruden posted a 40-28 win-loss record.
After this stint with the Raiders, Al Davis discarded Gruden to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With the Buccaneers, Gruden took down his former team in SuperBowl XXXVII, giving him great satisfaction. His coaching career concluded just above .500, which he isn’t satisfied with.
“Not good. I mean, that’s average,” he said. “Fifty-seven and fifty-five? That’s nothing to get excited about, but I don’t like to live in the rear-view mirror.”
At the age of 49, coaching is not yet out of the question for Jon Gruden. Football is his wife, girlfriend and mistress and it shows up in every avenue of life for Jon Gruden.
“I’m trying to figure out where I’m going,” Gruden told Gumbel. “If the right opportunity presents itself, I will come back.”
Despite signing a five-year contract extension with ESPN to remain a broadcaster in October, Gruden hasn’t closed any doors for his future. While ESPN may have built Monday Night Football around Gruden, he certainly isn’t shaping his future around them.
“Jon is a rare individual who has been successful at everything he has done, going from one of the youngest coaches to win a Super Bowl to reinventing himself with this new broadcasting career in his 40s,” Gruden’s agent, Bob LaMonte, said in a statement.
The intensity and fire in his eyes make it evident that he’s got that intangible characteristics that few have. While fans enjoy listening to him commentate, sharing his in depth library of football knowledge with the world, there would be many fans excited to see him coach once again in the NFL.
Whether he’s in the FFCA breaking down plays, meeting with quarterbacks for his camp, or analyzing a Monday Night Football game, Jon Gruden is the essence of football and the NFL is better for having him involved.