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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- Chris Collinsworth takes a ton from NFL production meetings. Broadcast partners get amazing access to players and coaches, who often divulge more than they’d offer publicly to help enhance a broadcast.
NBC’s lead color analyst takes something from each interaction, which enhances his knowledge of the game, its players and trends.
“Jon Gruden made a comment that I thought got dismissed a little bit when he said, ‘you don’t know what an advantage I’ve gained by being a broadcaster,’” Collinsworth said on Tuesday. “You watch all these teams practice, and you talk to them about their organization, their structure and their approach to free agency and getting insights into what they’re doing. Then you multiply that. I think I’ve been to 27 of the 32 NFL teams this year.”
Some may postulate whether Gruden’s nine years in the broadcast booth is a help or hindrance, but Collinsworth believes the new Raiders head coach will have an ace in his sleeve.
Gruden has been to the puppet show and seen the strings. That will bridge the gap between his time coaching and a more modern age.
“I know Jon has seen so much,” Collinsworth said. “I know that I have. I think it’ll give him a big edge.”
It will also scratch an itch. Gruden said his return to coaching was less about the $100 million contract than it was about a competitive high.
“I know him well enough to know that competition is what it’s about for him,” Collinsworth said. “There is no competition in broadcasting...We all want to be better than the next guy, but there is no standard for that. You don’t get that ultimate feeling (of a win).
“As you get older, you think about the most exciting things that happen in life. When you compare (broadcasting) to playing or coaching in the Super Bowl, there’s nothing that will compare to that…Once you’ve tasted that bit of magic, right? You can go make money. He could’ve lived forever on what he was making on Monday Night Football, and being happy on his boat, drinking beer and having a great time. But you don’t get that moment again. You just don’t.”
Gruden will have more competitive moments, and plenty of them. He’s working on a 10-year deal, and will surely coach a considerable stretch whether or not he sees the end of that deal. People have dialed up clips of Gruden’s well-crafted offense, but a new Raiders scheme won’t be a replica. That’s due to his time studying the NFL and its innovations.
“I’ve gotten to see every facility in the league,” Gruden said at his introductory press conference. “I’ve had a chance to watch practices and see how they conduct training camps. I’ve had the chance to learn and see some things that I’ve never gotten to see as a coach. I’ve had a chance to study different offenses, different defenses, and the chance to get into personnel more. I think I’m more big picture now than what I was in the past, but I still want to be very detailed in terms of how we play offense. I still want to be very involved with how we move the football. I have had some unique and beneficial opportunities as a broadcaster.”
Collinsworth isn’t going to be a coach anytime soon, but understands the value of inside information. He also understands the drive to return to competitive football.
“In some ways, it’s a bit humbling to be a broadcaster,” Collinsworth said. “No matter how you look at it, you’re an outsider. You get close and you know guys pretty well, but it’s humbling to be outside the game instead of inside the game trying beating somebody’s butt. I know that’s what happened to Jon. It tugs at me all the time, too. No matter what we do in a broadcast, nobody’s keeping score...There’s nothing like driving home at the end of the day and thinking, either ‘we won’ or ‘we lost.’"