For the last two seasons, Sean McDonough worked alongside Jon Gruden as ESPN's Monday Night Football broadcast team.
As he was deciding whether to accept Mark Davis' offer to take the Raiders' job, Gruden leaned on McDonough for advice.
During a podcast with ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Wednesday, McDonough discussed when he felt he knew Gruden would go back to coaching and pulled back the curtain on his conversations with Gruden as he wrestled with the decision to leave the booth for the sideline.
"What I thought from the very beginning was, this guy’s passion is coaching. So I fully anticipated from Day 1, he’s gonna go back eventually. It’s just a matter of when. And I think now is the right time. I think the Raiders have a special place in his heart. The Raiders never really left his heart. Anytime you get traded, or fired by somebody and they want to bring you back almost acknowledging that they made a mistake, that feels good. I think that was a part of it that was appealing to Jon," McDonough said.
Gruden last coached in 2008 with the Tampa Bay Bucs. If he didn't jump at this opportunity, McDonough explained, their might not be better chance.
"He has three boys, the youngest is going to be out of high school at the end of next year. He’s now in his mid-50’s, he’s been out for nine years. At a certain point, if you’re going to go back, you need to go back while you’re still young. He’s a youthful, vibrant, energetic 54-year-old. To be totally serious about it, $100 million is pretty enticing too. I think the money, the proverbial offer you can’t refuse," McDonough said.
It's the worst kept secret that Raiders owner Mark Davis chased Gruden for six years. Whenever Davis made the offer, Gruden always turned him down or didn't respond. While Gruden finally accepted it this time, McDonough revealed that the new Raiders head coach did have reservations about making the gigantic leap.
"A couple times over the weekend in Kansas City, he had mixed emotions and he was quite emotional with our crew and he said a couple times ‘I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing,’ and it wasn’t that he was concerned about going back to the Raiders, I just think it was the entire change in his family life and having to move and leaving a job in Monday Night Football that he really enjoyed and that’s easier to do than being a coach. You know, it’s a much tougher grind, coaching, even as much effort you put into the broadcast. As we all know, it’s a much different animal when you’re coaching in the NFL. He said to me, ‘I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing,’ and I said, ‘well, let’s weigh the positives and negatives,’ which is usually how I like to make decisions in my life. I said ‘you’ve got 100 million reasons over here, so there better be a heck of a lot of negatives on the other side to prevent you from saying no to the Raiders.' " McDonough said.
Gruden was introduced by the Raiders on Tuesday during a large press conference that featured a plethera of former players. The deal that Gruden finally accepted is believed to be a 10-year, $100 million contract, the largest in NFL history for a coach.