By HCR Staff | September 7, 2019
The Antonio Brown era in Oakland is over. After trading for him and signing him to big extension, one of the NFL’s most dynamic receivers never saw the field in silver and black. It’s a big disappointment for the entire Raiders organization, especially how head coach Jon Gruden handled the whole situation.
As a head coach, you have to lead an entire organization and help establish and reinforce what is, hopefully, a culture that is conducive to winning on a consistent basis. That is why Jon Gruden was brought in. Unfortunately, in this situation he did not distinguish himself.
He simply never took charge of the situation, and showed an alarming carelessness to cultivating a resilient culture for his organization – and with a 10-year guaranteed contract as head coach, to a large extent, it really is his organization.
Gruden behaved as if he were trying to be the “cool parent” – on the one hand, saying whatever was needed to Brown to placate him, and on the other hand, seemingly undercutting the authority of his general manager Mike Mayock.
Gruden chose to sign Brown and put his team into this difficult situation. Raiders players have had to deal with significant distraction while at the same time trying to prepare for a game against a divisional opponent.
The question now is how his remaining players perceive their head coach. If it were any other player in Brown’s situation, they’d be chewed out and/or cut. But Gruden let Brown get away with too much, and backed himself into a corner when it comes to disciplining his team.
Gruden tried to mitigate the damage by attempting to take accountability in an apologetic press conference Saturday afternoon, while crediting the entire organization for trying to make the situation work. It’s a bandaid on a gaping wound on the Raiders organization to start the season. Hopefully for Gruden and Raiders fans, it’s a positive step.
This entire episode demonstrates that a head coach’s leadership traits go far beyond cute press conferences and scribbling on a chalkboard.