Behind The Scenes

MNF’s Jon Gruden, former Raiders coach, returns to Oakland tonight

Gruden is seen here as coach of the Raiders before a January 2001 game against the Miami Dolphins in Oakland. (Photo credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

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ESPN’s Monday Night Football crew kicked off its preseason schedule Thursday in San Diego.

After making its way up the California coast to the Bay Area this weekend, the group now turns its attention to tonight’s Dallas Cowboys versus Oakland Raiders matchup (8 p.m. ET, ESPN, ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN).

The venue is particularly meaningful to fourth-year analyst Jon Gruden, who called the Oakland Coliseum (aka The Black Hole) home from 1998-2001 as head coach of the Raiders.

When Gruden earned this first NFL head coaching job, he was just 34 years old. In four seasons, he helped restore the winning tradition of the Silver and Black, posting a 38-26 record with two AFC West titles and a pair of playoff appearances, including 2000 when Oakland reached the AFC Championship.

Tonight marks Gruden’s first game in Oakland since he joined MNF.

And though he has never walked the field before a Monday Night game, he just might do so tonight to say hello to old friends and co-workers.

In the interview above, Gruden talks about starting his NFL coaching career in Oakland, how he grew up rooting for the Raiders, Chuckie dolls and why he will always be grateful to Al Davis.


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