By DERON SNYDER
Reaching the Super Bowl is hard enough for an NFL coach, who must fend off 15 contenders in his conference.
The odds of his brother doing likewise in the other conference, in the same season, are astronomical. Mainly because his brother would never coach an NFL team, in any season.
But five years ago, the sun, stars and moon aligned just right, giving us Baltimore and San Francisco in Super Bowl 47, aka the “Harbaugh Bowl.” It was a family affair, with Ravens coach John Harbaugh pitted against his little brother, then-49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.
Brothers had never coached against each in the Super Bowl. Harbaugh Bowl II is out of the question with Jim now coaching the University of Michigan. But with Oakland’s newly hired head coach, it’s possible that the NFL one year will witness another sibling rivalry on the sidelines on the first Sunday in February.
Can you say, “Gruden Bowl?”
OK, but can you say it with a straight face?
Washington coach Jay Gruden welcomed his big brother back to the fraternity last week and immediately retreated into Jon’s shadow again. Now, when folks talk about “Coach Gruden,” they’re referring to the Super Bowl-winning hotshot who just scored a $100 million contract after a nine-year hiatus in the broadcast booth.
The Raiders entered this season as chic picks to reach at least the AFC Championship Game. With Jon Gruden at the helm and Derek Carr under center, the Raiders seem poised to bounce back from their 6-10 finish this season. The head coach can’t fix the defense, but that’s the coordinator’s job. Jon Gruden was hired to get the offense back on track after it regressed in 2017.
He got enough out of Brad Johnson to ride Tampa Bay’s defense to the Super Bowl 15 years ago, so imagine what he can do with Carr. The Raiders might have to win via shootout at first, but Jon Gruden probably has a storage bin full of ideas from his broadcasting days.
“Raider nation,” owner Mark Davis said at the introductory news conference, “this is a big effin deal.”
The Silver & Black appear to be back.
Meanwhile back in Ashburn, Jay Gruden is wondering if he’ll have an established quarterback in 2018. He still hasn’t recovered from losing two 1,000-yard receivers last offseason. He’s counting on an unproven front office to bolster the roster.
The Skins seem closer to Oakland than a championship.
The Harbaugh family made for a heartwarming story five years ago in New Orleans.
Chances are the Gruden family’s next Super Bowl experience will be like the last one: A trip to support Jon.