While he’s rumored to be the next coach of the Oakland (soon to be Las Vegas) Raiders, Jon Gruden remains an employee of ESPN.
But the Monday Night Football analyst didn’t mind going after his network’s own reporting in an appearance on the Golic & Wingo show Wednesday, where he admitted there’s a “good chance” he’ll be the next coach of the Raiders.
“They’re still, I believe, going through the interview process,” Gruden said, a possible nod to the league’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for coaching vacancies. “When [Raiders owner Mark Davis] knows, I think we’ll all know.”
During the radio appearance, Gruden called into question the reporting by his colleagues Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, who wrote that Davis had offered an ownership stake to Gruden in past offers and was willing to do so again.
“There’s no truth to that at all,” Gruden told hosts Mike Golic and Trey Wingo. “But I appreciate Adam’s and Chris’ confidence that I have a chance of getting that job. It’s awful nice of them.”
Gruden also singled out First Take host Stephen A. Smith, mocking him for a rant he delivered Tuesday that Gruden “does not deserve an ownership stake in an NFL franchise.”
“I heard Stephen Smith screaming at me on TV yesterday on one of his shows,” Gruden said. “There’s no validity to that at all. None, zero. That’s a nice segment that I saw, but no, no ownership, that’s for sure.”
Smith wasn’t opposed to head coaches getting ownership stakes, noting that, “If Bill Belichick somehow, someway had an ownership stake, you ain’t going to hear me say a damn word.” Smith just didn’t think that was something Gruden warranted.
“Jon Gruden does not deserve an ownership stake in an NFL franchise,” Smith said on Tuesday’s First Take. “Not unless he’s coming out of pocket with his own money and investing and they vet you and let you in. He does not deserve to have an ownership stake in a franchise. It should not be allowed. … It shouldn’t even be brought to the table.”
Gruden, who last coached in the NFL nine years ago, would become the fourth ESPN analyst in recent weeks to depart Bristol for a head coaching job, following Chip Kelly (UCLA), Aaron Boone (Yankees) and Herman Edwards (Arizona State) out the door. He’s already reportedly gathering his team, which could include Jets offensive coordinator John Morton and Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.
On Wednesday, former NFL executive Mike Lombardi added another potential staffer to the list — Cowboys special team coach Rich Bisaccia, who was Gruden’s special teams coach during his time with the Buccaneers.
An ESPN spokesman has confirmed that Gruden would still call this weekend’s AFC Wild Card playoff game between the Chiefs and the Titans, along with play-by-play man Sean McDonough and sideline reporters Lisa Salters and Adam Schefter.
So far, there have been no official complaints from either the Chiefs or the Titans about opening up access to Gruden, who would coach a rival team if he ended up with the Raiders next season. Earlier this season, after Fox Sports announced that Panthers tight end Greg Olsen would be a guest analyst for the Nov. 19 Rams-Vikings game, the network agreed to limit his pre-game access in response to complaints raised by Minnesota.
ESPN declined to comment about the situation.