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Jon David Gruden (born August 17, 1963 in Sandusky, Ohiomarker) is a former American football head coach, most recently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL. Prior to taking over as coach of Tampa Bay, he was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders for 4 years. The Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII in the team's first year under Gruden's tenure, making him the youngest head coach ever to win a Super Bowl at the time, a record since eclipsed by Mike Tomlin. Gruden currently serves as one of two color commentators on ESPN Monday Night Football along with Ron Jaworski.


Early career

Gruden attended Clay High School in South Bend, Indianamarker, where his father Jim Gruden served as an assistant to Dan Devine at the University of Notre Damemarker. Feeling he would not have a chance to play for the Fighting Irish, Jon Gruden chose not to attend Notre Dame – where he would have received free tuition as a coach's child. Instead he attended Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohiomarker. After just one year he transferred to the University of Daytonmarker, where he was the back-up quarterback to Phil Nussman under coach Mike Kelly from 1982 until 1984.

After graduating with a degree in communications, Gruden started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee during the 1986 season. He found his way as the quarterbacks coach at Southeast Missouri Statemarker for two years. He then moved to the University of Pacificmarker in 1989 as offensive assistant. He became the wide receivers coach for the University of Pittsburgh in 1991.

Pro career

In 1990, Gruden's father Jim set up an interview with Mike Holmgren, who was the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. Gruden impressed Holmgren with his knowledge of the game for such a young man. Holmgren hired Gruden as one of the first quality control coaches in the NFL.

He quickly ascended through the ranks of NFL coaching by learning the famous West Coast offense pioneered by longtime NFL coach Bill Walsh. When Holmgren left the 49ers to become head coach of the Green Bay Packers in 1992, he took the promising young Gruden with him to become the team's wide receivers coach. After three seasons in Green Bay, Gruden moved on to become the offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles under former Packers assistant coach Ray Rhodes. Gruden then was chosen by the owner and general manager of the Oakland Raiders, Al Davis, to be the Raiders' new head coach for the 1998 season.

Oakland Raiders

Gruden resuscitated the moribund Raiders. After uniting with journeyman quarterback Rich Gannon, a mobile and cerebral veteran, he led the Raiders to the top of the AFC and made the playoffs three straight seasons. Under Gruden, the Raiders posted consecutive 8–8 seasons in 1998 and 1999, and leapt out of last place in the AFC West. Oakland finished 12–4 in the 2000 season, the team's most successful in a decade, and their first division title since 1990, ultimately reaching the AFC Championship, where they lost 16–3 to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Gannon was hurt early in the game on an ill-timed snap, and Ravens tackle Tony Siragusa was later fined $10,000 for a late hit on the play that caused the shoulder injury that left Gannon out of the game.

The Raiders acquired all-time leading receiver Jerry Rice prior to the 2001 season. They finished 10–6 and won a second straight AFC West title but lost their divisional-round playoff game to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, in a controversial game that became known as the "Tuck Rule Game." The game was played in a heavy snowstorm, and late in the fourth quarter an apparent fumble by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was recovered by Raiders linebacker Greg Biekert. The recovery would have led to a Raiders victory; however, the play was reviewed and determined to be an incomplete pass (it was ruled that Brady had pump faked and had not yet "tucked" the ball into his body, which, by rule, cannot result in a fumble - though this explanation was not given on the field, but after the NFL season had ended). The Patriots retained possession of the ball, and drove for a game-tying field goal. The game went into overtime and the Patriots won, 16–13.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After compiling a 40–28 win-loss record in four seasons with the Raiders, Gruden replaced the fired Tony Dungy as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002, via a high-stakes trade that included Tampa Bay's 2002 and 2003 first-round draft picks, 2002 and 2004 second-round draft picks, and $8 million in cash. The trade took place for a number of reasons, including Davis' desire for a more vertical passing attack rather than Gruden's horizontal pass attack, the fact that Gruden's contract would expire a year after the trade, and Davis' uncertainty over whether Gruden was worth as much money as his next contract was sure to pay him. Gruden signed a five-year contract with the Buccaneers worth $17.5 million.

The Bucs' search had taken more than two months, and had proven to be a major embarrassment to the Buccaneer organization. Tampa Bay had expressed an interest in Gruden, but Davis had originally refused to release him from his contract. The team subsequently interviewed several other coaches and believed a deal was in place with Bill Parcells, before Parcells backed out, reportedly because his choice for General Manager, Mike Tannenbaum, told him not to accept the job because of the salary cap difficulties that Tampa Bay was about to endure. With the franchise's search floundering, the coach they wanted having only one year remaining on his deal, and the immediate hire of Dungy by the Indianapolis Colts, many fans and sports commentators began to openly question if the Bucs had made the right move by dismissing Dungy. Only a big splash hire could quiet the storm, and this may have been the primary motivation for the Bucs to give up as much as they did to acquire Gruden.

Immediately after arriving in Tampa, Gruden significantly retooled the offense with the addition of numerous free agents. His determination to fix the under-performing offense so often maligned during Dungy's tenure inspired the Bucs defense to another #1 ranking, which helped the team to a 12–4 season and a win over Gruden's old team in Super Bowl XXXVII. Despite the Super Bowl win, there were many, including players on the Buccaneers like Warren Sapp, who attributed Gruden's win primarily to the defense that coach Tony Dungy and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin had created during Dungy's tenure with the Bucs. Gruden publicly and graciously thanked Dungy for his contributions upon accepting the Lombardi Trophy at the Super Bowl XXXVII postgame ceremony.

His mantra for the 2002 season was "Pound the Rock", a reference to never giving up. Gruden even went as far as to display a large chunk of granite in the locker room, a tactic mimicked by the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Their slogan, "Keep choppin' wood", was tainted when punter Chris Hanson injured his leg on an axe brought in to accompany a large log.) Upon returning to Tampa after winning Super Bowl XXXVII, he led a capacity crowd at Raymond James Stadiummarker in chanting the phrase. However, it seemingly disappeared from the lexicon the following year, and was not aggressively marketed or displayed on stadium video boards.

In the two years following Gruden's Super Bowl win, the Bucs went 7–9 and 5–11 respectively, implying to many Dungy supporters that Gruden had simply taken over a strong team and then driven it into the ground. However, the high draft picks sacrificed by the team to acquire Gruden, along with salary-cap issues and failed draft choices forced upon him by the now-departed Rich McKay (with whom Gruden had an bitter relationship) limited Gruden's ability to field the teams he wanted after that successful Super Bowl-winning season. With no emerging talent in the fold and no money to afford replacements, the team was decimated by injuries to many of the Super Bowl stars, including Joe Jurevicius, Mike Alstott, Greg Spires, Shelton Quarles, Ken Dilger and Brian Kelly, as well as acrimony with highly-paid veterans such as Sapp, Keyshawn Johnson and Keenan McCardell.

When former Raiders general manager Bruce Allen joined the Bucs in 2004, Gruden finally had the general manager–head coach partnership he desired, and their past two drafts have yielded a number of impact players, including 2005 Offensive NFL Rookie of the Year Award winner Carnell "Cadillac" Williams.

2005 also marked a return to the playoffs, as the Bucs' posted a surprising 11–5 record, despite the loss of starting quarterback Brian Griese and some controversial coaching decisions, including a two-point conversion in the final seconds to defeat the Washington Redskins, who would later return to Tampa and eliminate the Bucs from the wild-card round of the playoffs.

In 2006, Gruden led the Buccaneers to a 4–12 season. It was his worst record as a head coach and the first time a Tampa Bay team had not won more than four games since 1991.

In an interview with Ira Kaufman of The Tampa Tribune on March 28, 2007, Bucs executive vice president Joel Glazer discussed the state of the Bucs. During the interview, Joel Glazer defended Gruden's performance, citing lost draft picks, injuries, and salary cap issues. However, he also said "Mediocrity will never be standard for the Buccaneers, but we have to move on."

In 2007, the team finally cleared itself of salary cap constraints and united Gruden with a mobile West Coast quarterback in former Pro Bowler and Grey Cup winner Jeff Garcia. The team posted a 9–7 record with five division wins (after resting starters for the final two games), despite suffering major injuries, several season-ending, to critical players like Luke Petitgout, Carnell Williams, Mike Alstott, Alex Smith, Brian Kelly, Barrett Ruud, Michael Clayton, Patrick Chukwurah, Gaines Adams and starting kick and punt returner Mark Jones. Despite this adversity, however, Gruden declared "The future is so bright around here I have to wear shades".

In 2008, Gruden was rewarded with a contract extension through the 2011 season. On November 30, Gruden earned his 100th win against the New Orleans Saints. And on December 28 the Buccaneers were eliminated from making the playoffs by the Oakland Raiders, the team Gruden left for Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers ended the season with four losses in a row.

Jon Gruden was fired by the Buccaneers on January 16, 2009, after seven seasons with the team. In April 2009, Gruden turned down an offer to become the offensive coordinator for the University of Oregonmarker Ducks.

Head coaching record

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
OAK 1998 8 8 0 .500 3rd in AFC West - - - -
OAK 1999 8 8 0 .500 4th in AFC West - - - -
OAK 2000 12 4 0 .750 1st in AFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Baltimore Ravens in AFC Championship Game.
OAK 2001 10 6 0 .625 1st in AFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to New England Patriots in AFC Divisional Game.
OAK Total 38 26 0 .594 2 2 .500
TAM 2002 12 4 0 .750 1st in NFC South 3 0 1.000 Won Super Bowl XXXVII
TAM 2003 7 9 0 .438 3rd in NFC South - - - -
TAM 2004 5 11 0 .312 4th in NFC South - - - -
TAM 2005 11 5 0 .688 1st in NFC South 0 1 .000 Lost to Washington Redskins in NFC Wild-Card Game.
TAM 2006 4 12 0 .250 4th in NFC South - - - -
TAM 2007 9 7 0 .563 1st in NFC South 0 1 .000 Lost to New York Giants in NFC Wild-Card Game.
TAM 2008 9 7 0 .563 3rd in NFC South - - - -
TAM Total 57 55 0 .509 3 2 .600
Total 95 81 0 .540 5 4 .556

Coaching tree

NFL head coaches under whom Jon Gruden has served:

Assistant coaches under Jon Gruden who have become NFL head coaches:


In May 2009, ESPN announced that Gruden would be joining the network as a color analyst on its Monday Night Football telecasts, replacing Tony Kornheiser.


Gruden and his wife, Cindy, have three sons, Jon II (Deuce), Michael, and Jayson. Gruden's younger brother Jay is a former starting quarterback at the University of Louisville and current head coach of the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League. Jay has also served as an offensive assistant on the Buccaneers staff, and won multiple championships as the starting quarterback of the AFL's Tampa Bay Storm. His wife Cindy is from East Tennessee and graduated from the University of Tennessee, where Gruden also coached in 1986.

Gruden grew up a Cleveland Browns fan.


  1. Gruden agrees to five-year deal with Bucs
  2. Retrieved on 2009-04-10.
  3. Jon Gruden Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks -

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