It looks like the whispers were actually rooted in reality. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that Colts owner Jim Irsay pursued Jon Gruden for their head coaching job. The former NFL coach and current commentator “resisted overtures” from the organization and will be remaining with ESPN.
For what it’s worth, Gruden denied having any discussions with the Colts.
“I know nothing,” he told Schefter (Twitter link). “I’ve told people, I’m not coaching. I’m a broadcaster, I’m not a coach.”
Despite a report from earlier this week that the Colts were planning on retaining head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson, rumors still persisted that the organization was eyeing some major changes. Longtime Indianapolis sports writer Bob Kravitz wrote that the organization was hoping to pair Gruden with former quarterback Peyton Manning, who would slide into a front office role. Kravitz was adamant that these were just rumors, noting that no moves were imminent. However, he also noted his belief that the organization did indeed reach out to both Gruden and Manning.
Pagano has an impressive 49-31 record during his five seasons in Indianapolis. The team finished 11-5 during each of Pagano’s first three seasons, but the squad hasn’t managed to finish above .500 since then. The team’s two-season playoff drought is the longest since the late 1990s. The team hasn’t made the Super Bowl since 2009, and Schefter tweets that the team’s pursuit of Gruden is an indication that Irsay will do whatever it takes to return the team to the promised land.
Gruden compiled a 95-81 record during his 11 seasons as an NFL head coach. Gruden helped return the Raiders to relevancy in the early 2000s, and he subsequently led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl championship in 2002. The 53-year-old lasted seven seasons in Tampa Bay before being fired following the 2009 campaign. Since then, Gruden has served in a variety of roles for ESPN, including color commentator for their Monday Night Football broadcasts.
Despite a report from last year that he might have interest in coaching quarterback Andrew Luck and the Colts, Gruden has continually said that he has no interest in returning to the NFL.
“I’ve said it a million times. I’m very happy with what I’m doing. I have no intention of coaching,” Gruden said in an interview with ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike back in December.
Of course, that hasn’t stopped teams from pursuing the former coach. The Rams were said to have had interest in the coach, and reports from last offseason indicated that Gruden had interest in the Eagles head coaching vacancy.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.