Jon Gruden knows the haters will be hating. He knows that by returning to football, his critics will be all over him the minute the Raiders hit a rough patch in 2018.
So Gruden, Oakland’s new head coach, says he’s going to work like a maniac to make certain the Raiders rebound from a 6-10 season to get back into the playoffs and contend for a Super Bowl.
In an interview with S.L. Price of Sports Illustrated this week, Gruden — who’s returning for his second stint as head coach of the Raiders — says he wants to be the team's head coach for a long, successful run.
"You know what I'm going to do?" he told Price. "I’m going to come back and put it all on me. Everybody's going to want to kick my ass, step on me. They can't wait to talk about what a dumbass I am and how (bad) I was to start with. How 'overrated' I am. I hear it all. I know it’s going to happen. And I'm like: Come on! Just like Al Davis. When I was here (before), he said, 'The great thing you've got going, Jon, is they're never going to rip you. They're going to rip me.'"
Now, Gruden says he's embracing that role as the face of the Raiders.
"I've kind of taken to that, man," he told Price.
Gruden already is spending hours studying video, scouting, evaluating and discussing improvements with his coaching staff and players. He told Price the key to winning is grinding, and he’s eager to grind.
"If you’re faking it, the football gods will get you," said Gruden. "They reward the guys who work hard. That's why Tom Brady is where he is. If you're focused and determined and legit, good things will happen. I believe that."
Recently, Gruden told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group that he's already deep into a long-day routine at team headquarters, putting in the hours.
"It's been a little like Groundhog Day," said Gruden. "You get up, it's dark. You leave, it's dark. You do the same thing over and over again."