When Jon Gruden last coached a game in the NFL, it did not take long for him to find a way to stay involved in football when he signed on as an analyst in ESPN’s Monday Night Football booth. But now that Gruden is getting back in the swing of coaching with the Oakland Raiders, he is quickly learning this is not the same league he was used to when he previously ran a team.
In between coaching stints, much has changed in the NFL, thanks to the collective bargaining agreement, and that means Gruden can no longer have the hands-on touch he was accustomed to in his last NFL stint. Among the chief concerns as he returns to coaching is the limited communication with his players, as he explained to The Mercury News‘ Jerry McDonald.
“You’re not allowed to be with your players. Some genius thought that would be great, that we’re not even allowed to talk to our players. So that’s been a big challenge.”
Not being able to talk to his players has prevented Gruden from hitting the ground running for offseason workouts and setting the tone for the team before training camp. As most NFL coaches (or football coaches in general) tend to be, Gruden is a bit of a control freak. So not being able to do everything he wants to ensure his team is prepared can be infuriating.
“You’re not allowed to do anything. You’re not allowed to coach your players. I’ve called several players, introduced myself. I think that’s legal. I’m not having contact with everybody. … We’re not allowed to have any real contact. It’s pretty clear on what the rules are.”
In case you haven’t picked up on the frustration, Gruden did not mince words when asked how he felt about the restrictions mandated by the collective bargaining agreement.
I hate it, personally. When I was out of coaching, I had players come and visit me to help them with getting their football fix. A lot of these guys want to work. A lot of these guys are dying to work. And a lot of these men have hired independent coaches to help them work. But the big thing is, I just want to start having relationships with these guys, learn what makes them tick. What motivates them. How they learn. The only way you can learn is by being with people but there’s some geniuses out there that have put together this formula and we’re going to certainly abide by the rules.
Welcome back to the NFL, Coach Gruden. Good luck getting adjusted to the new way of life in the NFL.