Now it’s officially official.
Jon Gruden will be the next head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders announced the hiring of Gruden shortly after he finished calling the Chiefs-Titans playoff game for ESPN on Saturday afternoon. During the broadcast, play-by-play man Sean McDonough made six mentions of Gruden leaving for the Raiders.
Gruden never acknowledged he’d be Oakland’s next head coach, laughing awkwardly and deflecting McDonough’s mentions each time.
Now he doesn’t have to dodge the topic anymore, as he’s done for the past week.
A news conference is set for Tuesday at noon in Alameda, 16 days after owner Mark Davis fired Jack Del Rio following the Raiders’ season-ending loss to the Chargers. Gruden’s 10-year, $100 million contract is the richest in NFL coaching history and matches Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson (both with the Cowboys) for the longest.
McDonough opened the broadcast Saturday by thanking Gruden for his services to Monday Night Football and congratulating him on becoming the Raiders’ next head coach.
“Well, thank you.” Gruden said. “Nothing’s official yet, but these Chiefs fans have been on my case since we got here.”
Host Suzy Kolber offered her farewell to Gruden during the pregame show, during which McDonough and Gruden also highlighted the Chiefs’ foursome of Alex Smith, Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
“It’s gonna be a big task for those coaches in the AFC West next year to deal with this bunch,” McDonough joked. Gruden chuckled but didn’t say anything.
Just before halftime with the Chiefs up two scores, McDonough mentioned Gruden having to travel to Arrowhead next season.
“This is no place right now to talk about the Raiders, is it?” Gruden said.
McDonough offered an emotional final sendoff to Gruden minutes after the game ended. It was the first time Gruden seemed to acknowledge his departure.
“It’ll be tough for a lot of us to be impartial when we go into those production meetings and see you next year,” McDonough said.
As the camera transitioned from the booth to the field, ESPN analyst and former Raider Charles Woodson screamed, “Welcome home Jon! Welcome home Grudey! Go Raiders!”
Gruden began his head-coaching career in Oakland 20 years ago Monday, leading the Raiders for four seasons before spending seven as the Buccaneers’ head coach. He is the second-youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl in NFL history, winning a ring at age 39 in his first season with Tampa Bay.
Despite several changes coming on Oakland’s coaching staff, ESPN reported general manager Reggie McKenzie will remain with the team. Common assumption would be, because of how badly Davis wanted Gruden, that McKenzie will be marginalized in some aspects.