Although Jon Gruden has shown himself capable of being engaging and occasionally cogent on his QB Camp specials with impending draftees, he remains generally worthless in the “Monday Night Football” booth. There’s a clear and grating Gruden M.O.: he ticks off his litany of catchphrases, assigns random professions as nicknames (“THIS GUY, ANDY DALTON, I’M GONNA CALL HIM THE ASTRONAUT, BECAUSE THERE’S NO TELLING HOW HIGH HE’LL GO AND BECAUSE HE BELONGS ON A RED PLANET!”) and shouts.
We already know to expect a more concentrated dose of Gruden this coming season after ESPN removed Jaws from the booth in order to go with a two-man team. What we didn’t know is just how much the Worldwide Leader loves them some Chucky. From a media Q&A session with ESPN president John Skipper:
Jaws [Ron Jaworksi] is great. What we are mostly trying to do is we want to ride Gruden. Gruden is a star. You have seen his QB show. He has a lot of personality. He has a lot to say. There was some concern that he and Jaws sounded a little bit the same in the booth. We just thought it would help viewers sort of understand who was there. Our sense is we ride Mr. Gruden a little bit. I think he can be a big star.
Sure, if you’re going solely by the QB specials, I could understand why he might have confidence in Gruden’s affability as a potential audience draw. But like all others who enter an ESPN booth, Gruden is injected by producers with a cocktail of ketamine, speed and that compound from 28 Days Later just before he goes on the air. He immediately drops 40 IQ points and becomes a frothing jackass. If there’s any consolation in the network president talking about riding him out like a running back, it probably means Gruden will break down into disrepair within three or four years.