Las Vegas Raiders: The Rise and Fall of former head coach Jon Gruden
Gruden becomes a star
Jon Gruden was no longer a young upstart with expectations not met, he was turning into something the Raiders had never had at coach. A bonafide star. He had become bigger than even the talent he coached. This even led to Gruden in 2001 being named one of the “50 Most Beautiful People in the World”, an honor mostly reserved for the entertainment business, and not the sports world.
A bashful Gruden even told the magazine “When you look this young, “you have to prove to players that you can help them.” This had shown just how larger than life Jon Gruden had become.
The 2001 season was another successful one for Gruden, as he once again led the Raiders to the AFC West title and a playoff appearance. However, the season ended in one of the most controversial calls in the history of the sport. The ‘tuck rule game would forever be remembered painfully in the heart of Raider fans, and also would be the final game of Jon Gruden as head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
There is no true reasoning for why Al Davis did something unheard of in the league when after the season he traded Gruden to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for draft picks. The rumors ran rampant about personality clashes between the two, contract negations that apparently made Davis uncomfortable, Davis’s preference for a more vertical style offense, or possibly the fact that Davis saw Gruden’s star power as a huge threat to his hierarchy.
Whatever the case, Gruden was moved to the Buccaneers, and the hearts of Raider Nation was shattered.