Jay Gruden will be officially announced as the next head coach of the Washington Redskins at a news conference on Thursday afternoon. Here are some things you may not know about the newest arrival at Redskins Park.
1. He’s in the Arena Football Hall of Fame
Gruden is a six-time Arena Bowl champion, four as quarterback of the Tampa Bay Storm and two as a coach with the Orlando Predators. He finished his playing career with 21,476 passing yards and 397 touchdowns and was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame in 1999.
2. He was once called the “Michael Jordan of Arena Football”
When Gruden made a return to the AFL as a player in 2002 after coaching for a few years, an article in the Orlando Sentinel likened him to another athlete who made a late career comeback attempt with this passage:
And now he’s putting on the pads once more at age 34. So what does he think? Can he be another Michael Jordan? Can he be almost as good as he once was?
“I expect to be much better,” he said. “Mentally I’ll be like an Olympic gold medalist if you compare what I know now to what I knew then. Physically, I’ll be fine. I was never a scrambling quarterback anyway.”
3. He once rated his own body a 32 out of 100.
During his second comeback season and last season as a quarterback in the AFL, an Orlando Sentinel piece had this exchange
And, of course, he’s in tiptop physical shape, right? The Predators’ roster calls him a 200-pounder — and there’s no doubt the “2” is right.
“Hey, I never claimed to be the Michael Vick of arena football,” [Gruden] said. “I’m sure I’ll be called old and fat by some, but I know what I can do.”
So does Predators Coach Fran Papasedero.
“Jay’s right where he’s always been,” Papasedero said Wednesday while watching Gruden work. “His abs are never going to rip through his shirt, but then they never have.”
“And he’s 100 percent mentally because he’s always 100 percent mentally — and he is passionate about the game.”
On a scale of zero-to-100, Gruden gave himself a “32” physically but did not seem overly concerned.
“That’s because I didn’t say that I’ve ever been higher than a 32.”
4. He likes to be in charge
A 2004 AP story included this quote from Gruden about his coaching style.
“I like having control over my team. I like signing who I want, cutting who I want, paying what I want and calling what I want on game day. … I’m kind of spoiled to where if I go somewhere else, and I’m low man on the totem pole, it’s hard for me to take that.”
Gruden made similar remarks to the Orlando Sentinel in 2006.
“I’m 39, and I don’t take orders very well,” Predators Coach Jay Gruden said. “I like being in charge and calling all the plays and bringing in who I want to bring in and cutting who I want to cut, signing who I want to sign. Leaving when I want to leave.”
5. He apparently doesn’t like meetings
In that same 2006 article, one of his players had this to day about Gruden’s mentality.
“He doesn’t have the mentality for the NFL,” said Kenny McEntyre, the Predators’ defensive specialist who joined the team in 1998. “In the NFL, they meet for eight, 10, 12 hours. Jay’s not that type of person.”
6. His first mention in The Washington Post was 25 years ago
He’s been mentioned numerous times in the last few weeks and will grace hundreds of our pages during his time here, but his first mention in The Post was in 1988. Then a quarterback at Louisville, Gruden was named in a story about Howard Schnellenberger in advance of the season opener against Maryland in College Park.
This season is particularly important to Schnellenberger. Under him, the Cardinals have gone 2-9, 3-8 and 3-7-1, hardly the stuff of legends. Schnellenberger’s lucrative five-year contract is up after next season, and to this point he has declined to negotiate an extension, although for the most part the city still seems quite enamored of him. He might be waiting for two things: If his 1988 team, which features a good quarterback in Jay Gruden and defensive stars Ed Reynolds and Pat Fitzgerald, can put together a winning record, his negotiating position with Louisville would be enhanced, as would be his attractiveness to other schools.
7. Jim Haslett hired him to coach in the UFL in 2009
Before coming to the Redskins as defensive coordinator, Haslett was head coach of the Florida Tuskers during the United Football League’s inaugural season in 2009. He hired Gruden to be his offensive coordinator.
“Jay should be a coordinator in the NFL,” Haslett told the Tampa Tribune at the time. “He and his brother are so much alike, it’s unbelievable. Football-wise, Jay is ridiculously smart. He’s a great fit for us.”
8. He has a chip on his shoulder
At least in 2006 he did. In a chat with the Orlando Sentinel, Gruden admitted that he still had hard feelings about not making an NFL team as a quarterback.
“I never understood why I never got an opportunity, but I’m still a little bitter over that,” he said in June of that year. “Even at age 39, I’m still [mad] at every NFL GM and scout, probably one of the reasons I’m here still.”
9. Game day Gruden is intense
In that same 2006 Orlando Sentinel piece, Predators lineman Doug Miller described Gruden’s increasing intensity levels throughout the week.
Miller equates the transformation to the TV version of the Incredible Hulk: “David Banner during the week and Lou Ferrigno on game day.”
10. He says he’s not a “media hound”
In August 2010, and Orlando Sentinel column wondered why Gruden was coaching the UFL and not making a play for the NFL.
“I’m happy here,” Gruden told the paper. “I’ve never been a media hound. I don’t care if my name is in the paper or being mentioned for big-time jobs. I don’t have to be on Hard Knocks.
“I just love coaching football and I love coaching players that have a passion for the game. I’ve got players I like, a staff I like and a town I love to live in. My wife and kids are happy. I’m not dying to make the jump just because it’s the NFL.”
Of course he ended up on Hard Knocks a few years later.
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