This turned out to be unexpectedly timely, but I recently finished reading Do You Love Football? by Jon Gruden. And not long afterward, he was announced as the new coach of the Oakland Raiders.
Do You Love Football? is essentially the autobiography of Gruden. Gruden is that rare coach who engenders a ton of interest from outsiders, even people who aren’t extremely invested in football. His look, his personality, his magnetism, and of course his winning of the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers all contribute to a special fondness for him. As the former coach of the Raiders (1998-2001) and then the Buccaneers (2002-2008), he went 95-81 as a head coach in the NFL. Since that time he has mostly been an analyst for ESPN and on Monday Night Football.
This book was written in 2004, so it came shortly after his Super Bowl victory and before his coaching career took a long halt. It tells of his childhood, growing up as the son of a coach. He coached at Tennessee, Pacific, Southwest Missouri State, Pitt, with the 49ers, with the Eagles, etc. He’s been all over the place. He talks about leadership, how to handle players and other coaches, how to deal with the stresses of the job, and all kinds of personal hurdles. He has a genuine enthusiasm for football that not many people share.
As a coach I had hoped for more X’s and O’s stuff in the book. As a mainstream personality, perhaps he refrained from too much technical information in order to prevent people from getting bored or getting in over their heads. Maybe he left that stuff out because he was still in the midst of his coaching career. Despite the absence of football geek talk, his discussion of leadership and the choices that coaches face when dealing with players and fellow coaches were helpful.
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