The Oakland Raiders on Wednesday publicly dismissed a report that former Raiders coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden was being discussed as a possible replacement for first-year head coach Dennis Allen.
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“There are two people on this planet that have the ability to make talks happen between Jon Gruden and the Raiders, with regard to him allegedly taking over the football operations, and/or the position of head coach,” Raiders spokesman Zak Gilbert said Wednesday in an email statement.
“Each of those individuals, owner Mark Davis and general manager Reggie McKenzie, wanted me to communicate that this rumor has no validity whatsoever.”
Gruden, 49, coached the Raiders from 1998-2001 before leaving for the Tampa Bay Buccanneers. His first season there as head coach, the Bucs defeated the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
The popular coach, who gained the nickname “Chucky” during his Raiders days because his scowling face resembled the horror-movie character, has been the subject of numerous coaching rumors since he joined the ESPN broadcast booth as a Monday Night Football analyst.
Last week, Gruden shot down a report he had been offered the vacant University of Tennessee football job, and another report saying he was a candidate for a position with the Cleveland Browns, along with an ownership stake there. The Browns denied they had interest in Gruden.
“I’m just excited about Monday Night Football,” Gruden said, discrediting the Tennessee and Cleveland rumors. “I like what I’m doing. I’m just trying to hang onto the job I have.”
The Gruden-to-Oakland rumor grew from a report by ProFootballWeekly.com publisher and editor Hub Arkush, who said Gruden and the Raiders were discussing his return to that franchise.