Monday, January 13, 2014
Learning about Jay Gruden
By John Keim
Just getting around to reading all the clips provided to us for Jay Gruden’s initial presser, here are some things I learned about him:
He’s not his brother. OK, I’d already known some of this, but there were some examples as to how they’re different. For starters, Jay Gruden does not wake up at 3:17 a.m. as his brother did when he coached.
Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who played for Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay and Jay Gruden in Cincinnati, told CBSSports.com last year that, “They’re both intense, they both love the game and they’re both very knowledgeable. But Jay is a little more easygoing, a little more laid back and will let some things go. The guys here love him. Andy [Dalton] and A.J. [Green] can just play free. He’s a great communicator with the guys. And then when you see him get mad, you know you’d better correct that. He’s intense and loves the game of football, but he also jokes around.”
Jay Gruden told The New York Times in 2003 that his brother is “a different cat. If he’s home for more than an hour, he goes crazy. ... I’m more laid-back.”
He also said this to the St. Petersburg Times in the early 1990s: “Everything Jon does, he does at 100 miles an hour. Me, I like my free time. I like to go out at night. It was the same way when we were growing up. Jon would go to practice with my father all the time, hang around the players and coaches, watch them work out. I liked to watch cartoons.”
That could explain why Jon Gruden exited coaching at age 46 and hasn’t returned and why Jay Gruden is still thriving.
Jay Gruden passed up opportunities to interview for NFL coaching jobs for several years. He told The New York Times that he liked working in the Arena League because, “you can spend time doing the things that you love, like playing golf and being with your kids.”
Last one on the Jay-Jon Gruden angle. I’d read this before but it was funny to see it again. Jon Gruden worked out harder than his younger brother. After bugging his younger brother for weeks to run with him, Jay Gruden finally did. He sped up down the stretch and beat his older brother and said he did the “Rocky dance” in the driveway. That could be what prompted a half-hour fight.
OK, I knew this as well, but Dalton’s quote was new to me. But Gruden takes a different approach than, say, Mike Shanahan when it comes to the coach-quarterback relationship. In that same CBS Sports article, Dalton said, “It’s special to be at a place where we have not only a great coach and player relationship, but it’s also like a friendship.” Whether or not that happens here – and if it’s even a positive or negative – remains to be seen.
Apparently the Orlando-Tampa Bay Arena League rivalry is rather intense. Gruden once recalled Orlando fans tossing batteries at him. They dumped beer and soda on his wife. Who knew?
He lasted two days in Miami’s training camp in 1989 and never made it to another NFL camp. He had been hoping to be a mid-round pick out of Louisville, but went undrafted.
When Gruden played for Orlando, he played against Chicago in a regionally televised game on NBC. What he considered special: getting interviewed afterward by Michael Irvin.
As a quarterback, he had a knack for bouncing back up after big hits. He was once described by Don Banks, then with the St. Petersburg Times and now with Sports Illustrated, as having a "steady, unflappable presence that calms his teammates."