NFL Agent on Raiders' Jon Gruden: 'My Experience Is He’s Not Honest with Players'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 25, 2021

INGLEWOOD, CA - AUGUST 21: Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden yells during the NFL preseason game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Los Angeles Rams on August 21, 2021, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is heading into the fourth season of a 10-year, $100 million contract, and the team's lack of success (19-29 with no playoff appearances) is generating some negative reviews from the NFL agents.

"I didn't like this signing even before he coached a game [with the Raiders]. He should have stayed on Monday Night Football," one agent told Ben Standig of The Athletic for an article published Wednesday. "My experience is he's not honest with players. He tells them what they want to hear, and that gets him in trouble."

Another added: "It's a disaster. The game has passed [Gruden] by considerably in terms of ingenuity, and him having full control is problematic."

Gruden knew he was going to face a lot of pressure and skeptics when he returned to the sideline after a successful decade-long run in the broadcast booth.

The 58-year-old Ohio native was a fixture on ESPN as a color commentator on Monday Night Football—"Spider 2 Y Banana" became a household phrase—and the star of Gruden's QB Camp, a show looking at each year's top quarterback draft prospects.

When he decided to accept the Raiders' job in 2018 to become a head coach for the first time since 2008 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he knew what was on the horizon.

"So, you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to come back and put it all on me," Gruden told S.L. Price of Sports Illustrated in 2018. "Everybody's going to want to kick my ass, step on me. They can't wait to talk about what a dumbass I am, and how s--tty I was to start with. How 'overrated' I am. I hear it all. I know it's going to happen."

Those comments seem prophetic in hindsight as pressure mounts on Gruden to turn the Raiders into a championship contender.

He guided the Raiders to a 38-26 record with two playoff appearances in four years during his first tenure with the organization from 1998 through 2001.

Gruden then became part of a rare fraternity as a coach who was traded, being sent to Tampa Bay in 2002 for a haul of draft picks, including a pair of first-rounders. The deal paid immediately dividends for the Bucs, who won the Super Bowl at the end of the 2002 campaign.

The University of Dayton alumni could never replicate that success during the remainder of his seven-year run in Tampa, finishing with a 57-55 record and two first-round exits in his subsequent playoff appearances.

His first three years in Las Vegas haven't yielded high-end results, and one agent told Standig this could be a crucial year for Gruden.

"He's made them relevant, but this is a very big year for him—as it would be for any coach in his fourth year who hasn't made the playoffs yet," another agent said. "He took over a bad team and are now about right where I expected. But no more excuses."

The Raiders begin the 2021 campaign Sept. 13 when they host the Baltimore Ravens for a clash on Monday Night Football.