There are, at the moment, seven head-coaching vacancies in the NFL and that means only one thing.
Cue the Jon Gruden talk.
The “Monday Night Football” analyst will, according to CBS Sports.com’s Mike Freeman, interview with teams that have, over the last few week, discreetly contacted Gruden or his representatives to assess his interest in returning to the sideline. Freeman reports that teams were told Gruden would speak to them when the regular season ended.
Gruden said this summer that he would consider a return to coaching if the right opportunity came along, even though ESPN trimmed “MNF” to a two-man booth to accommodate him. Privately, according to Freeman, Gruden is talking to teams, with Philadelphia and San Diego possible destinations. The Chargers, according to multiple reports may prefer a younger coach, with the hottest names being offensively innovative college coaches. Gruden isn’t a lock to coach again, but the urge isn’t entirely out of his system.
“I’m trying to figure out where I’m going,” Gruden told Bryant Gumbel on HBO’s “Real Sports” last summer. “If the right opportunity presents itself, I will come back.”
Gruden, who also coached the Oakland Raiders, was fired in January 2009 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a seven-year stint and a Super Bowl win. The firing, he admitted, stung. “I got fired; I was emotional,” Gruden said. “I was upset and I’m still emotional and upset about it to a degree when I think about it.”
Gruden also left coaching with a record that was barely over .500. “Not good. I mean, that’s average,” he said. “Fifty-seven and 55? That’s nothing to get excited about, but I don’t like to live in the rear-view mirror.”
Gruden may not be the hottest name in his own family, though. His brother, Jay, is the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals and Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that he “turned down at least three interviews last offseason.”