ASHBURN, Va. — Jon Gruden watched Jay Gruden’s practice when the Washington Redskins were on the field last week. Jon also accepted Jay’s invitation to talk to the team.
The two brothers weren’t always so cooperative. Competitive growing up? You bet.
“Every since we can remember,” Jon Gruden said. “Foto-Electric Football. Nerf football on our knees and backyard football. … He was better. He was a lot more talented, unfortunately.”
Jon Gruden added that he usually fared better at the indoor strategy games, then laughed and added: “We usually ended in a fistfight before it was over.”
Even now, they can’t agree on what they remember.
“He’s so full of (bull),” Jay Gruden said. “Jon was a great athlete growing up. He was 3 1/2 years older than me, so if I won it was because he let me win — until I got to be about 17, 18. I started to get a little bit bigger, I could hold my own, but growing up he won everything. But he made it in a way kept me close, close, close, close and he let me win sometimes — just enough to where I felt like I was getting better. And then he’d beat me and he’d talk trash and I’d crumble.”
Now Jay is trying to emulate Jon’s success as an NFL coach. Jon won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers more than a decade ago before moving to the broadcast booth with “Monday Night Football.” Jay is prepping for his rookie NFL head coach season with the Redskins.
While their Xs and Os may not be exactly alike, their general approaches to the job are similar. There’s no doubting the football passion in either man.
“Very similar in a lot of ways,” Jon Gruden said. “From the standpoint that you try to adjust your offense to your quarterback, you try to adjust your football team around your players. You do the best you can with the hand that you have, and you’ve got to add some parts along the way.”
Their father, Jim, was a longtime NFL scout, so the two might have seemed destined to be part of the game. Jay, however, says Jon also showed early promise in the older brother’s second career.
“Nerf basketball, he knew every college basketball team’s roster, and he would do the whole tournament. He’d announce the games as we were playing,” Jay said. “I always knew he was going to be a good announcer. I actually thought he could do a whole game by himself and he’d be awesome.”
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