Jon Gruden spent nine seasons in ESPN’s employ, working primarily as Monday Night Football’s color analyst.
That chapter is coming to a close. Saturday’s AFC playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans serves as his swan song, before becoming the next Raiders head coach.
He’s expected to sign a 10-year contract and be formally introduced in a Tuesday press conference.
Gruden’s coming back to coaching after a nine-year hiatus. That’s a long time between gigs, but Gruden hasn’t spent that space away sipping Coronas on a white-sand beach. He’s been immersed in NFL football, thanks to a broadcasting job and an ever-present coaching itch.
He’ll re-join a league with different practice policies and ever-evolving schematics, but should hit the ground running.
"Just about every year I talk about coming back to coach,” Gruden told Buccaneers blog PewterReport.com in July. “I'm not in here every day at 4:30 or 4:00 in the morning watching pinball, you know? I'm preparing myself to come back. I am. Every day. I'm preparing to come back."
A total of five men have returned as head coaches after such a long break. The results have been mixed. The Raiders fell victim to one such decision, hiring Art Shell to coach the 2006 season. That Silver and Black squad, which didn’t have much talent and featured Andrew Walter and Aaron Brooks at quarterback, went 2-14.
Pete Carroll has been excellent since returning to the pro ranks, and Dick Vermeil stands as an example of someone who succeeded after returning from the broadcast booth.
Many have tried to lure Gruden back to coaching after cushy jobs in broadcast media – Bill Cowher and Tony Dungy have been other popular targets – but Gruden finally decided to return to an Oakland Raiders team he coached from 1998-2001.
Here’s a list of head coaches in the last 25 years who returned to the position after at least a nine-year break, according to NFL Research, and how they fared:
Pete Carroll (returned in 2010)
Years away: 11
Job away from NFL: USC head coach
Returned to coach: Seattle
Record after return: 79-48 (still coaching)
Accomplishments after return: Super Bowl XLVIII champion, 2 NFL championships (2013, 2014)
Chan Gailey (returned in 2010)
Years away: 11
Job away from NFL: Miami offensive coordinator (2000-01), Georgia Tech head coach (2002-07), Kansas City offensive coordinator (2008)
Returned to coach: Buffalo
Record after return: 16-32
Accomplishments after return: No division titles, postseason qualifications
Art Shell (returned in 2006)
Years away: 12
Job away from NFL: Kansas City OL coach (1995-96), Atlanta OL coach (1997-2000), NFL senior VP in football operations
Returned to coach: Oakland
Record after return: 2-14
Accomplishments after return: Last place finish in one season
Joe Gibbs (returned in 2004)
Years away: 12
Job away from NFL: Owner of Job Gibbs Racing (NASCAR team)
Returned to coach: Washington
Record after return: 30-34
Accomplishments after return: NFL wild card qualifier (2005, 2007), 1-2 playoff record
Dick Vermeil (returned in 1997)
Years away: 15
Job away from NFL: Football color analyst for ABC, NBC
Returned to coach: St. Louis (1997-99), Kansas City (2001-2005)
Record after return: 66-62
Accomplishments after return: Super Bowl XXXIV champion (St. Louis), 2003 AFC West champion (Kansas City)