Behind The ScenesNFL

Jon Gruden and friends support prep programs nationwide

Even when Jon Gruden isn’t calling Monday Night Football games for ESPN, he is still never that far from football. Gruden has spent some of his free time as an assistant coach, helping with his son’s high school team at Carrollwood Day School in Tampa, Fla.

During his time on the sidelines, he’s observed many prep coaches, striving to achieve big-time results with limited resources. As a Super Bowl-winning head coach with a network of contacts across the country – and as someone who cares deeply about the future of the game – Gruden felt compelled to lend a hand.

He galvanized his Fired Football Coaches Association (FFCA) and teamed up with Hooters – the restaurant chain where Gruden once worked a summer job – to raise money for programs in need.

The effort so far has been fruitful. Gruden has distributed checks to 25 programs this year to help them cover the costs of equipment, uniforms and other necessities.

What’s more, Gruden has honored the coaches personally with special recognition events in or around the coaches’ home cities. At each event, he spends time talking with the coaches individually, praising them for uplifting, encouraging and inspiring young people to achieve.

“I want them to get recognized by their peers and by the people that love football,” said Gruden, who will be on the call for MNF’s season finale between Atlanta and San Francisco (8:25 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN). “I want these people to have their moment in the sun.”

The video above is from a recognition event in Tampa last month when Gruden, the FFCA and Hooters honored coaches from eight local programs. Similar events have been held in Atlanta, St. Louis and other cities. The next one is in San Bruno, Calif., this weekend when Gruden is in the Bay Area for MNF’s Falcons-49ers game. For more information on the program, visit:

Video produced by Tonya Malinowski

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