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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

How long will Gruden remain in the booth at MNF?

Jon Gruden will be terrific on Monday Night Football.

He looks and sounds unlike most former coaches who have traded in their whistles for a microphone.

One of the best things about covering Gruden was that he spoke in perfect soundbites -- colorful, insightful and anecdotal. That will serve him well on television.

But I just don't think he will be following Hank Williams, Jr.'s anthem for very long.

Gruden, 45, is at an age when many are getting their first chance to become an NFL head coach. He has 11 seasons of experience with the Raiders and Bucs while winning a Lombardi Trophy.

He was fired with three years remaining on his contract and will earn $15-million from the Glazer family. No telling what ESPN is paying him, but it's likely in the $1-million range.

That gives Gruden the luxury of not having to rush into anything while taking advantage of new opportunties like the one on MNF.

But do you know what Gruden has been doing since his termination, aside from some stints on the NFL Network?

According to Warren Sapp, who shared a set with Gruden on NFLN,  he's been working on taking much of the verbiage out of his offensive scheme -- a complaint by many of those who coached and played for him. He's also been busy adapting his offense to a left-handed passer (Tim Tebow anyone?).

That doesn't sound like a guy who is done coaching football. In fact, Gruden dodged the question about his itch to return to the sidelines Monday, saying he's keeping his goals 'short-term.'

The question will be whether his next opportunity will come from college or the pro ranks? He's in the pool of former Super Bowl winning coaches like Bill Cowher, Mike Holmgren, Mike Shanahan and Tony Dungy that will always entice certain NFL owners.

But the change of careers might change Gruden's ambitions, you never know. Jimmy Johnson, after a successful career with the Cowboys and Dolphins, never returned to coaching. Bill Parcells, on the others hand, took broadcasting jobs while plotting his next move to the sidelines.

I bumped into Gruden at the NFL combine in Indianapolis in January, where he began his first turn behind the microphone for the NFL Network. He seemed to be enjoying himself but mentioned he didn't realize how much work was involved in broadcasting in terms of preparation and pre-production.

Gruden is a workaholic, we know that. He'll bring the same kind of energy to this job as he did to his coaching career.

You wonder if all those wonderful soundbites will start to sound repetitive, as they did after a few years in Oakland and then Tampa Bay. Players would eventually tune him out and you can't have that with Neilsen ratings. Then again, John Madden was an icon with the same schtick for decades.

For now, it's a great move for Gruden -- an opportunity to keep him involved in the game at the highest level. It will be great for viewers, including some NFL owners looking for a new head coach.   

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:33pm]


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