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ST. PAUL, Minn. – Bill Belichick is the NFL’s longest tenured head coach. The New England Patriots’ chief strategist has manned his post since 2000, one of a few who have coached against Jon Gruden at the top of their profession.
Gruden spent nine years in the broadcast booth between getting fired in Tampa Bay and taking the head coaching gig in Oakland early this month, returning with great fanfare to the team he led from 1998-2001.
Belichick, for one, says he’s glad to see Gruden return to the coaching ranks.
“I have a ton of respect for Jon,” Belichick said Monday night. “It’s great to have him back.”
Some rules have changed since Gruden’s been gone. Practice time, work in pads and player access has been restricted in the new collective bargaining agreement, rules that require coaching adjustments. Gruden’s practices in the old days were notoriously intense, and he has said several times publicly that practice restrictions would be tough to handle
“Jon’s a smart guy,” Belichick said. “I’m sure he’ll figure it out.”
Belichick was head coach of Gruden’s last game as Raiders head coach. The Patriots beat the Raiders 16-13 in the AFC playoffs’ divisional round. Raider Nation remembers it as the “Tuck Rule” game, a torturous memory for many who feel the Raiders were robbed on a technicality, a misapplied rule.
Many on that excellent Raiders team aren’t over it. Count Gruden among them.
He brought up the “Tuck Rule” in his introductory press conference, as a matter of fact.
“Brady,” Gruden said, “fumbled that ball.”