Broadcast partner reveals how he eased Gruden's concerns over leaving booth

Broadcast partner reveals how he eased Gruden's concerns over leaving booth

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.

Jon Gruden, Raiders seeking solid third option behind Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson

Jon Gruden, Raiders seeking solid third option behind Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson

ALAMEDA -- Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson are locked into the Raiders starting lineup. They have been both dynamic and steady during training camp.

Receivers behind them on the depth chart haven’t been so strong.

Head coach Jon Gruden wants better from those guys.

“Hopefully someone can step up and will clearly emerge as the third receiver,” Gruden said Monday after practice. “… We need somebody to step up in that room this week.”

The Raiders will run a game-like practice week heading into Friday’s exhibition against the Green Bay Packers, and regulars will play an extended stretch.

Game performance could lift someone above the rest. The third receiver typically works in the slot, a spot Ryan Switzer manned during the offseason program and early in camp.

Griff Whalen has taken that spot over the last week.

Martavis Bryant is the most talented receiver, maybe in the entire group, but has been slow to absorb the offense and learn multiple receiver positions. Gruden has called him out on that, and has him working primarily with the second and third units.

There will be a competitive battle for receiver jobs, but it’s expected that Bryant and Switzer will end up taking control of snaps behind Cooper and Nelson. That isn’t guaranteed, however. Gruden wants more consistency and production from his wideouts.

“There has been some good and some, I don’t want to say bad, but there have been some ups and downs typical in training camp,” Nelson said. “Sometimes guys come out of the blocks fast and then slow down. Sometimes start slow and then pick it up. The main thing is being consistent.

“Keep reminding them that you can’t let the roller coaster get to you. You’re going to have good days and bad ones. You’re going to run good routes and bad routes. You have to continue to improve and continue to grind. If you do that, you’ll get the results you want.”

The Raiders need more from the slot, which could be an important role with threats on the outside. The competition there is an important one that quarterback Derek Carr is watching closely.

“Yeah, a couple of them are new, fighting for that spot. A couple have been banged up. So, I think we’re all sitting there excited to see what happens,” Carr said. “They’re all, I think, healthy. We’ll see. I think they’re all mentally ready, physically ready. Hopefully come game time, we can sit there and we can evaluate that spot. Because, obviously it’s important.

"When you have guys like Martavis or [Amari Cooper] Coop or Jordy on the outside, you have Jared [Cook] on the inside, someone is hopefully going to get a good matchup on the other side and in the slot, wherever we put them. We have to figure that out and it’ll be exciting. I’m just excited to watch how that goes this week, preparation-wise and then in the game.”

Watch Marshawn Lynch's tee shot that earned him MVP of Klay Thompson's golf tourney


Watch Marshawn Lynch's tee shot that earned him MVP of Klay Thompson's golf tourney

Marshawn Lynch is much better at driving a golf cart than he is at driving a golf ball. 

The Raiders running back, of course, famously took an injury cart for a spin in 2006 after a win when he was at Cal. On Sunday, he took to the links, playing alongside Klay Thompson at the Thompson Family Foundation Golf Tournament in San Francisco.

Thompson gave a look at Lynch's "form" on his Instagram story, and the result was not pretty. 

Courtesy: @klaythompson/Instagram

That won't be considered solid, let alone way too solid, by anybody. Thompson told the Bay Area News Group's Mark Medina that he wants to improve his golf game, and it's probably best if he doesn't turn to Lynch for advice.