Jon Gruden may no longer be coaching the Raiders -- or any team, for that matter -- but as the coach who built the Raiders' most recent winning team (sorry, Bill Callahan), Gruden's insights on the Raiders deserve to be heard.
And in a segment on Sirius NFL Radio, Gruden has lent his insights on what may be the most contentious issue on the Raiders' roster -- whether Jeff Garcia deserves a chance to leapfrog JaMarcus Russell as the Raiders' starting quarterback.
The folks at Raider Beat, who do the Lord's work by compiling every piece of breaking online Oakland Raiders news each and every day, have transcribed the exchange so Raider fans may fully assess, pick apart, and analyze Gruden's thoughts. Gruden basically concludes that Garcia is a fantastic option, but the investment in JaMarcus necessitates giving him the opportunity to start and develop.
"If you look at Jeff’s career in the history of this game," says Gruden, referring to Garcia, "He protects the ball as good or better than anybody that’s ever played. He’s one of the top four or five all-time in not turning the football over. And I think that’s one thing that Jeff Garcia always brings to you, is a guy that will protect the football."
But who would Gruden start if he were still head coach?
"I think they gotta go with JaMarcus Russell. He’s the No. 1 pick in the draft," Gruden says. "They’ve got a lot invested in him. This is only his third season. This is the time where JaMarcus Russell has to explode onto the scene. Hopefully McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, some of his young support system, can help him, because he does have great ability throwing the football.”
Point taken, Gruden would start Russell. Now let's proceed to the unrelated but totally hilarious anecdote Gruden told on-air.
"Rich Gannon, in the middle of an audible, against the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football," recalls Gruden, perhaps forgetting that this 1999 regular season game was actually on a Thursday night. "Right out of nowhere (Rich) Gannon saw something better and he started a live audible. So I started yelling at him from the sideline and in the middle of his audible. (Gannon says), ‘Black 350…Shut up, leave me alone!…Black 350.’ He told me to shut up in the middle of an audible. I will never forget that as long as I live.”
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who deeply regrets the amount of pewter and red visible in the above photograph.