- Programming note: On the latest episode of NBC Sports' Sports Uncovered podcast, Michelle Tafoya dives deep into Raiders coach Jon Gruden, tracing his journey from the sidelines to the broadcast booth and back to the Silver and Black.
We've all heard how much Jon Gruden loves football. For God's sake, the guy brought a blender into the "Monday Night Football" booth when discussing then-Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly's special smoothies.
But while we've all heard the Raiders coach gush about quarterbacks and get wild-eyed after a bad holding call, only a few have lived that intensity first hand.
So, just how much of a football lunatic is Gruden? In the latest episode of the NBC Sports podcast series Sports Uncovered, legendary Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown detailed one of his first encounters with "psycho" Gruden.
"When he's installing plays, he's in a full, flat sweat, you know, installing the plays, you know what I mean?" Brown told NBC's Michelle Tafoya. "Because he's all animated, he's banging on the board and he's doing all these things and you know, initially you think he's like putting on, right? It's like, okay. You know, uh, cause we had a very veteran team when he got there, you know? Um, and uh, so initially you think, okay, this guy, you know, come on, man, really, but you realize this is really who he is. He lives and dies the game, man."
Prior to a preseason game on the East Coast, Gruden noticed that a sleepy Brown didn't have the juice to give it everything he wanted.
"So we were up early for breakfast, 10 o'clock, East coast time, seven o'clock our time," Brown recalls. "And because we had got in late that Friday night, you know, you know, I didn't get to bed til late or whatever. So I came down there and my eyes were bloodshot red. Right. And this was a preseason game and he looks me in the eyes, and he was like, you know, 'what's up captain?' And I turned, I looked at him and his eyes like buck, right. Cause my eyes are red and he was like, 'Oh, you’re not ready to play today, you’re not ready to play.' And I'm looking at this brother, like, what are you talking about? It's 10 o'clock in the morning of the game. It’s not a deal, you know. Oh, you're not ready to play. And sure enough, he made mention of it in the locker room, like before the game.
"And I was only supposed to play a couple of plays in the game. But I was supposed to play, I only played like half of that and he took me out the game. And that was during the time when we wanted to play preseason games where, you wanted to get your groove and get all of that stuff. And I can tell you, I probably own more red-eye, more Visine than anybody in the history of the NFL because that never happened again. I had bottles of Visine everywhere."
Chris Simms was a quarterback for Gruden with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Gruden loves talking football with his quarterbacks, and Simms was no exception. At one point, Simms had to cut his honeymoon short because Gruden kept calling him.
"Hey man, what's going on? Just checking in on you," Simms recalls of Gruden blowing up his phone on his honeymoon. "Hey, when are you coming back? The next day it was, 'Hey, are you going to call me back? What's going on here? What if, when are you coming back? Are you guys, are you guys rolling a boat back from Italy? When the hell you going to be here?' "
Gruden just loves football, man.
While Gruden admits he sometimes lets his emotions get the best of him, he is trying to tone down the cursing.
"Well I gotta control my emotions," Gruden said. "I've felt myself on the verge of passing out on game day, screaming and cheering. I'm a great cheerleader. A lot of people think I'm just screaming and yelling hell. I'm encouraging our guys to play as hard as they can to keep competing, keep fighting. And sometimes I yell and scream so much. My blood pressure goes so high. I'm about to go down, but, uh, Chucky's doing all right."
Best of luck, Chucky.