It's safe to say Raiders coach Jon Gruden is not a fan of the NFL's offseason rules
Gruden isn't allowed to have as much contact with his players as he'd like
It's been a while since Jon Gruden coached in the NFL. Gruden's last game in charge came on Dec. 28, 2008. Since then, he's worked almost exclusively in television. A lot has changed since he was really in the league, and Gruden does not seem too thrilled with the new world order.
In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, Gruden repeatedly criticized the NFL's new rules about offseason programs, complaining again and again about the limited contact coaches are allowed to have with players during the offseason. A few examples (emphasis ours):
Q: How different is the process of putting together a team than it was 20 years ago when Al Davis hired you?
Gruden: It's a different process because of the salary cap. The salary cap is a big deal, no question. Guys now are making $20 million, some guys are making $25 million a year. So you have to be mindful of the salary cap a little bit more. I think the biggest thing is the collective bargaining agreement. You're not allowed to be with your players. Some genius thought that would be great, that we're not even allowed to talk to our players. So that's been a big challenge. Changing the way you put together your offseason program, the way you put together training camp, as you consider all the changes in the collective bargaining agreement that was put in place.
Q: With contact that limited what can you say to players? You talked at the press conference about looking forward to meeting Marshawn Lynch . . .
Gruden: You're not allowed to do anything. You're not allowed to coach your players. I've called several players, introduced myself. I think that's legal. I'm not having contact with everybody. I've had people call me to tell me that Marshawn Lynch didn't show up to a meeting that we had. I mean, there's a lot of stuff out there that's being written that's not even true. We're not allowed to have any real contact. It's pretty clear on what the rules are. All you've got to do is read 'em.
Q: Is it driving you crazy at all that it's still going to be awhile until you can actually set foot on a field and coach players?
Gruden: I hate it, personally. When I was out of coaching, I had players come and visit me to help them with getting their football fix. A lot of these guys want to work. A lot of these guys are dying to work. And a lot of these men have hired independent coaches to help them work. But the big thing is, I just want to start having relationships with these guys, learn what makes them tick. What motivates them. How they learn. The only way you can learn is by being with people but there's some geniuses out there that have put together this formula and we're going to certainly abide by the rules.
The NFL's new(-ish) offseason rules were designed to keep players healthier and not overwork them, and they mostly specify for how many hours each day teams are allowed to practice and whether workouts need to be voluntary or mandatory. (You can see the full list of rules on the NFLPA's website.) The offseason is divided into phases where teams ramp up activity as training camp gets closer.
New head coaches get to start their official offseason program two weeks earlier than returning coaches, so Gruden's team can spring into action in the first week of April. That leaves about five months to get ready for the season. That's longer than the actual season unless your team happens to make the Super Bowl, in case Gruden was wondering. (I doubt he's reading this, but hey, you never know!) It seems like that should leave him and the Raiders more than enough time to evaluate, learn, and prepare for the upcoming campaign.
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