Jon Gruden’s stint as an NFL analyst likely will be short-lived — probably only one season — so NFL fans should relish his contributions as the brash rookie on ESPN’s "Monday Night Football” team.
Gruden has been a real treat. Nicknamed "Chucky” for his intense facial expressions as a head coach with the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gruden is bringing humor, enthusiasm and behind-the-scenes knowledge to the 40th season of "Monday Night Football” — a series he used to beg his mother to allow him to stay up and watch. "I think this is as good or better than any media job that exists and it’s a tremendous amount of responsibility,” Gruden, 46, said in a recent conference call. "I want to deliver. I want to be a great teammate and be part of a great team.” During Indianapolis’ victory over Miami on Monday, Gruden was giddy in arguing with analyst Ron Jaworski about the importance of the Dolphins’ "Wildcat” offense, which he called "revolutionary.” When the Dolphins were unsuccessful in blitzing Colts quarterback Peyton Manning on the winning touchdown drive, Gruden related an anecdote about a similar failed attempt by his Buccaneers after which Manning walked past him on the sideline and told him, "You got to be kidding!” His teammates, play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico and Jaworski, are glad to have him on board as the replacement for the comical Tony Kornheiser. "I’m lucky to do a variety of sports and I’ve seen a lot of new analysts or first-time analysts come in,” Tirico said, "and I’ve never seen anybody bring the passion and the desire to be terrific at this the way Jon has.” The trio, along with reporters Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya, will be at the new Cowboys Stadium to broadcast the Carolina-Dallas game at 7:30 p.m.