Jon Gruden, lead analyst for ESPN’s Monday Night Football, is now the brother of an NFL head coach, as you may have heard. Jon’s brother Jay now leads Washington’s football club and their star QB, Robert Griffin III. Washington will appear twice on MNF this season, and this is an issue of great consternation for some.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio wrote a post on the subject earlier this week after Jon visited Jay at practice and asked a question that is surely going around the league:
Gruden watched practice and attended a team meeting. Quarterback Robert Griffin III said that the team expects to see “our fair share of Jon here” throughout the season.
That’s fine, but it won’t make the Seahawks or Cowboys feel comfortable with giving Jon Gruden access to practice and coaches and players as those teams prepare to face Washington on ESPN’s Monday Night Football in 2014.
It’s hard to imagine that Jon Gruden is dumb enough to endanger his job as well as the entire integrity of the NFL by becoming the least subtle spy in the history of the sport. Florio goes on:
Objectively calling the games is one thing. Facing and process the temptation to share information with Jay that could help his team win will be another temptation.
And it doesn’t simply apply to the games involving Jay’s team that Jon is calling. Every week, Jon will have unique access and insight to a pair of teams that could be in Washington’s division or otherwise on Washington’s schedule. Will ESPN insist on Jon saying nothing to Jay? Will Jon ultimately honor that directive?
Most importantly, will there be any way to know if Jon complies?
It’s a bizarre situation with plenty of potential tentacles. Given that NFL coaches are obsessively competitive and notoriously paranoid, it’s a complication that could create some added intrigue for the nation’s ultimate reality show.
Florio does make the excellent point that NFL coaches are routinely paranoid about things much less significant than this. Yet Jon Gruden betraying the profession to help his brother out is a juicy, but unlikely storyline. He also implies that Washington games on ESPN will be crazy entertaining now, because who knows what Gruden is up to?!?! When he says “THIS GUY,” is he really speaking in code?
Look, we’ve seen family members broadcast their siblings (the Van Gundys, the Waltrips) or even their sons (the Waltons, the Jarretts, the Grieses) before and it hasn’t been that big a deal.
But it is the NFL, and conspiracy theories are always afoot. It’s no surprise that the league might find one in Jon Gruden’s connection to his brother, it’s just not very creative.