BIGPLAY’s spotlight of the top 100 personalities from 100 years of the National Football League continues on Kickoff Sunday by spotlighting Jon Gruden, one of the NFL’s most iconic coaches.
Gruden began his career by serving as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Tennessee in 1985. After bouncing around a few other schools, he eventually moved to the pros by becoming a Wide Receivers coach in Green Bay. He then moved to become the offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles, where his coaching abilities were on full display. This eventually leads to him being made the Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders in 1998.
Gruden worked wonders with the Raiders, taking a team that was previously in the basement of the AFC West to consecutive 8-8 seasons and eventually to two straight playoff appearances in 2000 through 2001. Both of these appearances led to defeat and the hands of the eventual Super Bowl Champion, including the infamous “Tuck Rule Game.”
After five seasons with the Raiders, Gruden moved on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is where he gained a staunch reputation for his commitment to running the ball. He made strong improvements to the offense and won the Super Bowl over the Oakland Raiders in convincing fashion. However, the wheels quickly came off the machine and the Bucs only made the playoffs two of the following six seasons, and Gruden was dismissed in January of 2009.
Upon his firing, Gruden created the Fired Football Coaches Association, where Gruden talked with many modern-day coaches like Sean McVay and Greg Schiano. Gruden was also a football commentator.
After nine years in the commentary booth, Gruden was asked to return to coaching by the Oakland Raiders, who offered him 100 million dollars over 10 years. After a disappointing first season with the Raiders, Gruden has much to prove this year after the Antonio Brown fallout.