An argument could likely be made that Jon Gruden deserves a spot in the legendary Bonehead Files and, of late, yours truly has anxiously been awaiting the next worthy candidate for induction. It's been a while. But in Gruden's case, that might be a knee-jerk reaction. He can't help what he says. Even the smartest strongest willed person in the world can be reduced to a blithering idiot if subjected to brainwashing long enough.
It wasn't always this way with Gruden. Once upon a time long ago, dear Jon was a young wunderkind in the world of the NFL. He certainly learned his early lessons at the knee of a master. That would be one Mike Holmgren, who was then the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. Back in the 1990s, it turned out Holmgren had assembled quite the staff. Several of his assistants would later go on to become NFL head coaches elsewhere. Gruden was the young stud in the room, an offensive "guru". Indeed, the Packers enjoyed quite the successful run guided by this bunch.
Gruden himself would go on to become the Oakland Raiders head coach for a few years, with modest success, before moving on to Tampa Bay. While there, he became the youngest head coach in history to lead his team to a Super Bowl championship. Very impressive stuff.
But we all know head coaches are hired only to be fired someday, and the same fate befell Gruden.
Fast forward to the present. Amongst other dopey TV gigs, Jon Gruden is now a "color commentator" on Monday Night Football. He's an expert, they say. The dude definitely knows football. Plus, as the execs discovered, the man has something to say that's interesting. See Nielsen ratings.
Unfortunately, this required Mr. Gruden to go to talking head school where they could properly finish his education in the broadcast world before turning him loose on the public with a microphone in front of him. Nobody seems to know exactly what the official curriculum is in this institute of higher knowledge, but it's a fair statement to say most go in with one identity and emerge out the other end with quite another. They've been brainwashed.
No doubt, somewhere along the line a course is taught in pseudo-greatness. This requires the student to be able to take the most mundane, run-of-the-mill play, and somehow find a way to create a "first" reference. For example, consider an off-tackle play where the running back gains 3 yards. Normally pretty dull stuff -- right? But not to a spinmeister. They might rant, "Did you know this guy is the first fourth-round left-handed draft choice from a school west of the Mississippi that ever gained exactly three yards on the second play of the fourth quarter in an NFL game? Oh my God, we're witnessing history here!!!".
One word. Please.
But it appears Jon Gruden learned his lessons well in the academy of politically correct gibberish-speak. Every player (and coach) are lauded at every turn. Nobody's ever a bonehead for an idiot play call, strategy, or botched play. Professional receivers dropping passes that hit them in both hands? Not a problem. "This guy is a multi-dimensional player", they'll say. "He brings so much to the game in other ways".
Hey, shut up. There's a better way. Try this. "He dropped the damn ball -- again. The dude's getting paid millions to catch passes and there's no excuse -- NONE -- for what just happened. In fact, this guy drops almost as many balls as he catches. He'd have been cut long ago if the coaching staff wasn't just as incompetent as he is".
What's the problem with saying it like it is?
And speaking of losers, Monday Night Football featured the Detroit Lions taking on the New Orleans Saints. How the NFL and TV geniuses came up with this underwhelming prime time match-up, even a year ago, would seem to be a good question. There was little doubt neither team would be serious contenders this year. And sure enough, they've both pretty well stunk it up this year, having long been eliminated from any playoff possibility.
Yet Jon Gruden plowed ahead trying to make the best of it. At one point, after a Lions defensive tackle named Ngata made a decent play, JG ranted this guy "has really been coming on strong lately".
Thing is, Ngata has been unable to play at all in recent weeks due to injury. So what, pray tell, did Jon Gruden think he was coming on strong lately from? Rehab? Perhaps he should recheck reality before he starts tossing more empty accolades out there that make him look foolish.
On another play, Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson got drilled after catching a pass. A flag was thrown for unnecessary roughness against a Saint's DB named Browner. Likely because Calvin "Megatron" Johnson has been woefully lacking in the production department in recent weeks, Gruden was quick to jump to his defense. These sort of hits have no place in the game.
But after the replays were shown, replete with slo-mo, it turned out Browner's hit was completely legal. No helmet to helmet contact. Just Browner's shoulder slamming Johnson in the upper chest. Bottom line? Johnson went across the middle into zone coverage, caught the ball, and immediately got clocked. This is just another play in the NFL. Nothing special, and it was a bogus call.
But such non-penalties handed out by the refs are also non-reviewable. Granted, the officials are seeing it in real time and the action happens fast, but they shouldn't throw a flag unless they're 100% sure a foul has actually been committed. Shouldn't innocent until proven guilty rule the day in the brutal world of the NFL? Granted, it's been trashed and turned upside down in the real world of justice -- once accused a defendant is automatically assumed guilty -- we see it all the time. Prosecutors, the media and sports Commissioners love how the public has been brainwashed into an automatic lynch mob, but that doesn't make it right. There's a little thing called evidence that has a pesky way of eventually coming out that might exonerate the "culprit". Yet the damage has already been done to an innocent person and there's no fixing it. But I digress.
Regarding Jon Gruden, one of his favorite lines seems to be, "I just love how ____ plays". Such energy, such emotion, such dedication, such toughness, a born leader, the ultimate teammate, a student of the game, and nobody outworks this guy when it comes to preparation, etc., etc., etc.
We get it Jon. Once upon a time you were a real football guy, and fairly well respected as such. Then you cycled through the talking head academy and evidently graduated Magna Cum Loudy. Hence your present gig in the booth alongside some guy who's initials are appropriately MT. Empty is quite the appropriate term to describe his fast and furious sound bytes as well.
So let's see. Monday Night Football used to be on ABC. Then whoops, cable TV came along and that pesky 4-letter sports network popped up. So ABC bought them out. Then the Mickey Mouse company saw another lucrative business opportunity and gobbled up the whole works. Did I miss anything here?
Ah, for the old days. Frank Gifford providing seamless, interesting and objective play-by-play. Dandy Don Merideth with his insightful wisecracks. DD would always sing about turning out the lights and declare the party over on some team in the fourth quarter. Never could figure out how Howard Cosell landed in the booth. But hey, anybody that can change their name from Cohen to Cosell, suck up and become a confidante of Mohammed Ali on the side, put on a cheap toupee, and convince the world he "tells it like it is" should be given kudos for at least being a great con man. Alas, one little innocent "monkey" remark slew the mighty Howard. It was the dawn of the "sensitive" age and the former Mr. Cohen had crossed a line he never even knew existed. But that's the way it goes sometimes. A ruthless business indeed.
As for Jon Gruden and the Lions/Saints game? The Lions were ahead early, but I have no idea how it turned out. Two losers playing each other with yet another brainwashed guy trying to sound relevant while blathering on. Everybody is great in his world. There are no chumps worthy of criticism, though most viewers would likely disagree. Midway through the second quarter was all I could take.
Click, click, click. There's gotta be something better on than this. Turned out not. Dang, thousands of channels and nothing decent to watch? In my infinite wisdom, there was only one course of action. Grab a bite to eat, take a shower, then come up with another dopey blog post like this one.
Like the man said, is this a great country or what?