Why did Jon Gruden decide to come back and coach the Oakland Raiders after nearly a decade in the broadcast booth? Tom Brady, of course.
Surely, the 10-year, $100 million contract Gruden signed in January had something to do with his decision. The allure of carrying on Al Davis’ legacy and coaching the NFL’s first Las Vegas franchise probably helped, too. But Gruden revealed in a Bleacher Report piece published Wednesday that Brady also played a role in him returning to an NFL sideline for the first time since the 2008 season.
Gruden had his “video guy,” Joe Harrington, put together a video on Brady when he wanted to make a point about mental toughness. Brady, of course, has come a long way since being drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, winning five Super Bowl titles, but the legend of TB12 began when the New England Patriots defeated Gruden and the Raiders in the 2001 playoffs. And it appears that still doesn’t sit well with Gruden.
“He can’t run, can’t jump, he’s too old,” Gruden said, per Bleacher Report’s Dan Pompei. “He gets his ass knocked off. But he’s a Terminator. He ran me out of Oakland in the Tuck Game. Damn. He brought those bastards back in a two-minute drill to beat us in a driving snow. They didn’t do anything the whole night until the game was on the line. And here I am 20 years later, and guess who’s still there. That’s why I’m back.”
The Patriots’ win over the Raiders — known as the “Tuck Rule Game” — kickstarted a dynasty, as New England subsequently defeated the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI and since have dominated the AFC. It also marked the final game of Gruden’s first stint with the Raiders, as Oakland later traded the passionate coach to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with whom he won a Super Bowl the following season.
Now, nearly 20 years later, Gruden is back in silver and black, while Brady continues to lead the charge down in Foxboro. And Gruden evidently has revenge on his mind, for better or worse.
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images