When the Washington Redskins hired Jay Gruden to be their head coach back in January, the team knew what it was getting from a football standpoint – an offensive-minded coach who could relate well with his players and coaches and was passionate about bringing a proud franchise back to its successful ways.
But Gruden also brought something to the Redskins perhaps no other candidate could match: a family pedigree rich in football with a known history of delivering winning football wherever they go.
Jay Gruden, of course, is the younger brother of Jon Gruden, who compiled a 95-81 record in his 11 seasons as head coach of the Oakland Raiders (1998 to 2001) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002 to 2008). Jon's 2002 Buccaneers squad – which featured a young Jay Gruden as an offensive assistant coach – finished 12-4 in the regular season and went on to defeat his former team, the Raiders, in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Their father, Jim, meanwhile, spent several years as a coach and scout at every level of the game, including in the NFL.
So when Jon Gruden decided to bring his well-known passion for the game to the broadcast booth as an analyst with ESPN's *Monday Night Football *crew, it became an interesting side note every time Jon would call a game in which Jay was coaching, particularly when he spent three years as the Cincinnati Bengals' offensive coordinator.
But that brother-brother, coach-analyst relationship takes on a brand new meaning tonight, when Jay will be conducting his first regular-season game as an NFL head coach with Jon up in the booth combing over his little brother's every decision.
Well, most of the decisions, anyway.
"Fortunately, I did a couple Monday Night games where he was the coordinator for the Bengals, so I bit my tongue a couple times," a smiling Jon Gruden recently told Larry Michael, the Voice of the Redskins. "He knows I'm here to support him, but at the same time you have to call it like you see it and Jay knows that the Redskins will get what they deserve."
For his part, Jay said he'd never ask his brother to take it easy on him in the broadcast booth.
"He called a couple of my games last year in Cincy. Jon is Jon," Jay Gruden said. "He's going to be positive if he can, but if I do something that's out-of-line ignorant, I'm sure he'll call me on it."
The two brothers grew up together in Sandusky, Ohio, where Jon – who is 3 ½ years older than Jay – would often come out victorious in their various battles on and off the playing field.
Eventually, however, Jay said he evolved into the better athlete – starring at quarterback for the University of Louisville and then winning titles in the Arena Football League – while Jon turned into quite the coach (and talker) at various stops at the college, and eventually, professional levels.
ESPN football analyst and Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden stopped by the Washington Redskins Organized Team Activities at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va., on Thursday, June 12, 2014.
"I learned a lot from Jon, so being able to be on a staff – everything I've learned in pro football is from him basically," Jay said. "The core that I know about pro football is from Jon. Jon's got a lot of B.S. to him. We all know that, sitting in here, to be quite honest, so what he says you can't really believe. But obviously we have a great relationship – family relationship – and support one another greatly."
Jon Gruden said he's been proud of the path his brother has paved for himself, leading into tonight's game against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks at FedExField.
"He's done it the hard way. He did it the right way," Jon Gruden said. "He's a former player in the Arena League, but he's taken notes, and he's been ready for every opportunity he has been given. I expect nothing different here."
Asked which brother was the better coach, Jay said Jon has the upper hand – for now.
"He's won a Super Bowl right?" Jay asked, with a laugh. "He's a little better."