Programming note: Coverage of Jon Gruden's introductory press conference from Alameda starts today at 11:50 a.m. on NBCSportsBayArea.com
Since we in our collective intellectual bankruptcy overvalue press conferences to an absurd degree, we will be disappointed by the form of the Jon Gruden presser today.
Not because of anything Gruden does or says -- he’ll go football with a bit of OTT (over-the-top) enthusiasm because that is the character he plays on television, Jim Harbaugh less 30 percent.
No, the Raiders must put on a show that reaches both their blue-collar Oakland audience and their glitter-on-rhinestones constituency in Las Vegas, and it is safe to say that no balance will be sufficient for either side.
But that is part of life in the neo-schizoid Planet Raider (we have retired Raider Nation as a concept until it gets United Nations clearance). It must be two things to two groups of people simultaneously, when for most of the last 20-plus years it has been not nearly enough to too many people.
Gruden doesn’t have to sell himself, to be sure. He spent the last nine years on ESPN doing nothing but that, and the resultant swelling of his reputation has made him the NFL’s first nine-figure coach and first of 27 $100 million employees. His job, you see, is the easiest.
As long as he gets them back into the playoffs in 2018, and wins a Super Bowl in 2019, that is. He is on at least one clock, after all.
But the rest of the organization looks like the two-headed eagle on the Albanian flag, looking in two directions at once, because as today will show, Gruden is their coach as well, and the branding agents and image consultants who have not yet done their Mark Davis makeover will have to make the rest of the franchise Vegas-ready while it is still doing its work in Oakland. It is not an enviable position.
But if you are of a mind to enjoy the agonies of the franchise that is abandoning you for a second consecutive generation, you will enjoy their desperate gyrations at the fringes of the Gruden Show. It is the sporting equivalent of moving a team from Appalachia to The Hamptons, and appeasing both fan bases at once. And no, it can’t be done.
So maybe what we’ll see is Gruden tapdancing around the move entirely, since it didn’t happen on his watch and has only a but to do with the job he has 10 years to complete -- making the Raiders a better representative to their new fan base than they did in their second go-round in Oakland.
And maybe that’s the part of the job that is worth $100 big.