Maybe I and many others are just biased because of how annoying he was on Monday Night Football on ESPN for so long. We can be a vindictive lot. Still, there really is only one organization that Jon Gruden could have gotten another job for, and that’s one as equally fraudulent as he is. Step up and be counted, Oakland/Vegas Raiders. It truly is a match made in heaven. But then, no one likes cashing in on nostalgia quite like the Raiders, who haven’t won a playoff game in 16 years.
It was that long ago when Gruden made a name for himself, mostly because he scowled on the sidelines, which he most certainly didn’t practice in a mirror in his office every day, that football commentators mistook for CARING SO DAMN MUCH. Sure, he got a label as a quarterback whisperer as he guided Rich Gannon to a 1st-team All-Pro season, which is a harrowing sentence to write. Somehow people forgot that Raiders team then completely screamed at its shoes in AFC Championship game at home to a Ravens team that didn’t have an offense.
Yeah, Gruden’s Raiders got screwed in the tuck-rule game the following season. It certainly broke the whole organization.
Oh right, Gruden won a Super Bowl. When he was hand-delivered to an already-made team with a Hall of Famer at every level on defense. Somehow, Al Davis’s kid didn’t seem to notice that the Buccaneers never won a playoff game with Gruden after that. And here are the QBs he “whispered” to “greatness”: Brad Johnson’s decline, Brian Griese, Chris Simms (whom he had to have, remember), Bruce Gradkowski, and Jeff Garcia. Real murderer’s row there.
But none of this matters to Mark Davis. All that matters is sizzle, even if it’s own feet into the pavement outside the Vegas Strip where his palace to excess and stupidity grows daily. He desperately wanted to move to LA to be a name. That didn’t work. So now it’ll be Vegas, where a lawsuit from a cocktail waitress at The Palms almost certainly awaits.
And that’s really all the Raiders have been, trading on a name made long ago that barely anyone can remember. Even the dude with skulls on his shoulder pads (who’s a grandfather now) is losing feeling in his limbs. They’re not rebelling against anything anymore, other than competence and success. They don’t stand apart from any other team. They don’t even pick fights with the NFL, as that seems to be the Patriots job, and they also win all the time. It must burn that the Pats stole the Raiders’ rep and they didn’t even bother to notice.
So here are the Raiders, squeaking along in a stadium no one wants them and they don’t want to be at with Gruden claiming he’s going to turn Derek Carr into something other than a background-filler. All he had to do was clear out perhaps the most gifted defensive player in the game, much to our delight. And it’ll be Khalil Mack who calmly lays the head of Carr at Gruden’s feet this Sunday to make his point.
But hey, Davis got his headlines, or headline. Gruden got to cash in and show everyone how smart he thinks he is while posturing for sideline cameras. In that sense, everyone wins. Except the Raiders very often.