Cindy Gruden believes her husband of 26 years has evolved from the days when he was a young assistant coach who had to be forced by his boss to leave work and take his wife out to dinner.
But she still knows “the look” that can signal his exasperation. That was a Jon Gruden specialty long before a player nicknamed him after the murderous movie doll “Chucky” when he was a first-year coach of the Raiders in 1998.
Whether it be coaching, broadcasting or going out on a family outing, Gruden is going places. Waiting is not part of the plan.
“If I ever want to make him upset with me, just be five minutes late,” Cindy Gruden said. “I’ve told him, ‘We are not your football team. We may not be on time.’
“Things like that still get in his craw. He still likes things a certain way. In that way, he will never change.”
Gruden, 54, is back for a second tour of duty as Raiders coach, given a contract reported to be worth $100 million over 10 years to do what he did the first time around. In 1998, at the age of 34, he took over a Raiders team that had gone 4-12 the previous season. After finishing 8-8 in Gruden’s first two seasons, the Raiders won consecutive AFC West titles and came within one game of reaching the Super Bowl in 2000.