Tanned, rested and ready, the Prince of Darkness is back.
Can the Little General be far behind?
Talk about your delicious little notions. From the instant you heard the Redskins had hired Bruce Allen, for whatever reason, you could not help but root for a reunion of the Troublemint Twins. Allen and Jon Gruden, Gruden and Allen.
Say it's so.
Honestly, whether the two of them drove your passion, drove you crazy or drove each other out of town, the NFL is a far more entertaining place with them sharing a franchise than without.
Heck, even Big-Dollar Danny Snyder ought to be able to figure that one out.
For crying out loud, why else would Snyder have hired Allen? Wasn't he aware of Allen's five seasons in Tampa? Didn't he suspect a resume with five pounds of White-Out?
"Bruce Allen is a proven winner,'' Snyder said Thursday.
You probably remember things differently, don't you? Allen was the guy who drafted Michael Clayton and Gaines Adams and Dexter Jackson. He was the guy who signed Todd Steussie and Derrick Deese and Charlie Garner as free agents. He was the guy who told his fans that Chris Simms wasn't hurt and David Boston wasn't guilty and the Bucs weren't chasing Brett Favre (This just in: Gruden has since said he went to bed thinking Favre would be a Buc the next morning.)
That was Allen, too, who treated the truth as if he was afraid of going over the cap. He was smug, and he was distant, and he disliked reporters as much as many of them disliked him.
In the end, it didn't help. Together, Allen and Gruden were 38-42 with the Bucs with three winning seasons and two losing seasons. They never won a playoff game. And they didn't exactly bring in a lot of impact players.
In other words, it isn't a stretch to suggest the Bucs have such a difficult job in front of them because Allen didn't do his well enough.
That said, an Allen-Gruden reunion in Washington would be a fine place to resume the discussion of who let down whom, wouldn't it?
Who knows? Maybe Brian Griese and Tim Brown and Steussie could join the Redskins, too. Hey, maybe Allen could even trade for the Bucs' rights to Jake Plummer. Just for old-times' sake.
Please. Tell me the Mike Shanahan rumors aren't true. Tell me Gruden's TV gig won't take him out of consideration (and it's hard to believe Gruden would ever sign a deal that would keep him off of a sideline). Tell me that when the Bucs play the Redskins next year, Gruden and Allen are waiting. Tell me Monday Night Football wouldn't show up for that one.
Why wouldn't it happen? Sometimes, general managers and coaches grate on each other. Maybe Gruden believes Allen didn't get him enough talent. Maybe Allen believes Gruden should have won more with what he had. And maybe Gruden thinks Snyder is Al Davis without the wrinkles or the Super Bowl rings. And maybe Snyder thinks Shanahan's head would look better next to those of Steve Spurrier and Marty Schottenheimer.
That said, something tells you that Gruden-Allen would be fitting, doesn't it?
For most of the season now, as the Bucs have flopped and reflopped, it has been difficult not to wonder how much better off the Bucs would be if they had not fired either Allen or Gruden back in January.
Yeah, I think they would have more than one win. I'm going to say they'd have four.
I think this schedule would have slapped them around. I think the team would be older. I think the defense would still have holes. I think the playoffs would still seem a long way away. I think they would have drafted Peria Jerry instead of Josh Freeman. I think they would have made a run at Favre again (Allen would deny it), but he would still have signed with Minnesota. I think Jeff Garcia or Griese would start on Sunday.
And, yes, I think people still would argue about Gruden until Florida ran out of oxygen.
I know, I know. A lot of people have accused the media — and in particular me — of running Gruden out of town. That's convenient, but if it had happened that way, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been as surprised as I was when the ax fell. Yeah, Gruden was criticized pretty hard in his losing years — funny how that works, isn't it? — but not so much in his last two 9-7 seasons.
Still, they were quite the pair, Gruden and his handpicked general manager. They made headlines, they livened up talk shows, they sparked debate. When you watched the Bucs, by golly, you had an opinion about them both.
Now, they can have a reunion tour. Gruden and Allen. Allen and Gruden.
It would be fun. It would be special. It would be fascinating.
Best of all, it would be somewhere else.