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Posts : 4762
: November 16, 2006, 09:22:35 AM

Rarely should work and family collide, but I think that this story speaks volumes of who Gruden is behind the scenes. I believe this was on the NFL Network's "Total Access" on Monday, but I didn't view it. If you click on the link at the end, it takes you to a video of his family.

Football keeps the Grudens together   

By Jennifer Allen
Special to NFL.com

(Nov. 15, 2006) -- Come Thanksgiving, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be heading into their third game in 11 days. That's right, three games, 11 days -- two on the road. And at high noon, Cowboy time, while you're chomping on a big bird, or maybe just tossing a pigskin around the yard, the Buccaneers will be miles away from home, suiting up in the visitor's den in Texas Stadium. With a 2-7 record and six players on injured reserve, you might think that the only thing the Bucs have to be thankful for is this: an increasingly promising draft.

But for head coach Jon Gruden, true gratitude doesn't always depend on the scoreboard. For Gruden, the son of a football coach, and now the father of three young sons, an appreciation for both football and family runs deep into his very core.

Last summer, I had the chance to spend some time with Gruden and his wife Cindy and their three football-loving sons. I stood the sideline as they played a family game at the foothills of Wyoming's Grand Teton Mountains. There aren't many lawns, if any, along those western banks of the Snake River. Mostly, it's just fields of unfriendly shrubs. And so, after a full day of river rafting, seeing Old Geyser and getting their SUV road-blocked by a wild buffalo, the family had to search wide and far to find this nearly perfect 30 by 50-foot field behind the back porch of a little diner just across the road from Chuck Wagon Trading Post.

Today, game day, the sky was wide with sun.

Elevation: 6,000-plus

Oxygen level: maximum

The teams: Gruden vs. Gruden. That is, Jon, Jayson and Cindy vs. 12-year-old Deuce, 9-year-old Michael and Jon's big brother James.

There's no lack of competitiveness in the Gruden gang. Barely a smile crossed any boy's face during the one-hour, no timeouts-allowed match. After scoring a TD, the boys exhibited perfect poise -- they simply tossed the ball back to the ref (aka Dad) and jogged back to the huddle. Scoring a touchdown was a fairly treacherous endeavor. The west end zone was a 15-foot cement wall. The east was the diner's splintered wooden porch. Early on in the game, watching Cindy, a former Tennessee Volunteers cheerleader, make a perfect sliding diving tackle on one of her sons, I wondered if the family had packed, along with their slew of NFL balls, a first aid kit. And as Uncle Jim, a senior radiologist at the Mayo Clinic, diagrammed up a complicated play on the palm of his hand while a flushed Deuce stood by sweating and breathing mountain-top air, I wondered how far it was to the nearest hospital.

But it soon became clear that skinning knees and spilling blood is nothing to be cry about if your last name is Gruden. As Jon explained to me later, there's no sippy cups in the NFL, and he expects the very same toughness from his three growing sons.

Each son was born in a town where Gruden coached around the league.

Jon Gruden has compiled an 80-65 record in his eight-plus season with the Buccaneers.     
Deuce was born in Green Bay when Jon was the Packers' wide receivers coach. Cindy says Deuce has a great work ethic, just like his dad, and he has to be on time to everything. "He's rushing me constantly," she says, just like her husband where on time is early.

Born in Philadelphia, where Jon was an offensive coordinator for the Eagles, Cindy describes Michael as the family analyzer, note taker, thinker and list maker. That day, you could see the taskmaster at work when he tried to rile up his opponent, his younger brother Jayson, by telling him that the looked a like "a ref."

Oakland-born Jayson is the most competitive, Cindy says. Jayson came into the world when his dad was the head coach of the Raiders. "He cannot stand to lose," she said. "He's the ultimate competitor and has the thousand faces (like his dad) to go with his game!" Around the house, Jon likes to refer to his youngest as "Chucky."

Jon knows that his long hours at work can keep him away from his sons. He grew up the son of a coach, too. His dad was an assistant with Dan Devine at Notre Dame when Jon was his high school. And for Jon, an aspiring quarterback, this allowed him the golden opportunity to trade passes with Notre Dame's quarterback at that time, Joe Montana. In the early '80s, Jim Gruden joined the Buccaneers as director of player personnel. Back then, Jon would sit on the roof of the Buccaneers' facility, watching Doug Williams control the field and dreaming of some day having a life, like his dad, in football. Now Jon works alongside Williams with the Buccaneers and he sees how his own sons are growing up in what many would call a boyhood dream -- hanging around guys like Simeon Rice, Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber, and getting to see first hand the work ethic it takes excel both on and off the field.

The boys are all clearly inspired by their dad's profession. When I asked if any of them would consider a career in football, they all shouted a unified, "Yes!"

Win or lose, Jon knows that, above all, it's his family who is always there, waiting to bring him home. In January of 2001 when Gruden's Raiders lost 16-3 to the Baltimore Ravens in AFC title game, it was the then-7-year-old Deuce who stood by his dad in the postgame news conference while Jon answered every single question. And when the conference was over, it was Deuce who walked with his dad, arm-in-arm, out of the room and into the long offseason ahead.

Clearly, the beauty of a family game is that any way you play it, a Gruden comes up a winner.

After this summertime game, the team retired to an air-conditioned-cooled condo. For a few minutes the boys lie, limp and crash out on floor. Dad was chilled in a chair. Mom changed clothes. It was a well-earned two-minute drill of quiet time. But then, one of the boys suddenly bolted up and asked, "What's next, dad?"

Outside, a hot air balloon drifted across the sky. Jon said he'd like to go do that some day. But he doubted whether his sons could take it up there for six hours, just looking around. That's a lot of time for boys to be just standing around when you're a Gruden.

Next up, dad said, was horseback riding.

A few minutes later, Cindy, a former rider, steered her horse up into the hills while her two older sons trailed behind. But little Jayson, saddled atop a horse, just wasn't ready for a big mountainous trek. So Jon stayed behind on foot. He took the reins of Jayson's horse and gently, patiently led the pair in a slow, hoof-dragging pace in an imaginary circular path around an empty field.

For now, there were no scoreboards. No ticking clock. Not a single soul on injured reserve.

There, the youngest coach to ever lead a team to victory in the Super Bowl was now leading his youngest son across a field -- both them taking a little time together to watch the weeds grow before the long, long season of football ahead.

And for these simple, nowhere-to-go, nothing-to-do moments, you can be sure the Jon Gruden and his family will always be forever thankful.

How the heck did I get old enough to have a kid in college?



Posts : 609
#1 : November 17, 2006, 09:41:14 PM

Bruce's sis

yea it's a fluff piece
I like fluff

Boid Fink

Hall of Famer

Posts : 54596
#2 : November 17, 2006, 09:58:52 PM


I agree.

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