If Jon Gruden…

The news regarding Jack Del Rio’s firing as the Oakland Raiders head coach came down swiftly following the team’s Week 17 loss to the San Diego Chargers, 30-10. While surprising to most, we outlined a few reasons why Jack should hit the road earlier in the season.

With Jack now gone, the expected rumors of former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden returning have resurfaced. Gruden last coached for the Raiders back in 2001, whereby he led the team to a 22-10 record in his final two years, and earned two AFC West titles in the process. As Raiders head coach, Gruden also landed one game shy of the Super Bowl in 2000, and lost another divisional playoff game via the infamous ‘Tuck Rule’ call in 2001 versus the Patriots. In 2002, Gruden was packaged by the Raiders in a trade to Tampa Bay, where he led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title (XXXVII) that same year.

In a potential return, Gruden could make some pretty good loot going to Oakland / Las Vegas. Simply put, Gruden could take a minimum salary, let’s say $2, during his first two years in Oakland. That would allow the team a lot of wiggle room for other coaching assignments, and would allow Gruden to backload his contract for a tax free Nevada move in the third year. As crazy as it sounds, it’s not unrealistic.

While Del Rio will barely be missed in Oakland, and Gruden (likely) emphatically embraced as his successor, the biggest question has yet to be answered. That question being, who will replace Jon Gruden as the Monday Night Football color commentator?

If we had a list of names to present as to who the next color commentator should be, then we’d present them. The truth is, only one guy can replace Jon Gruden at this point, and that guy is Peyton Manning.

Peyton Manning is as decorated as football players come this day in age. His resume is far too long to list, one that includes two Super Bowl titles, a Super Bowl MVP, and 14 Pro Bowl selections. Only quarterback Tom Brady could turn more heads if he and Peyton Manning happened to be in the same room.

As it relates to broadcasting, Peyton Manning is actually a funny dude. We’ve all seen his commercials (you know the jingle!) and have caught glimpses of him as host on Saturday Night Live, which is not an easy gig to pull off, mind you. Add to that the fact that Manning knows his football. While both Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers may be better than Manning was in some respects of the game, neither can tell a story or talk to the camera the way he does.

There’s just one problem with Peyton Manning taking the ESPN Monday Night Football job though. Well, maybe two! The second reason being that ESPN would be foolish not to offer the job to Manning (first) because the network has been struggling for years. An offer to Peyton Manning is not rocket science, just a lot of zeros. The bigger problem with Manning taking this job is whether or not it would be enough for him?

Sure, there would be the weekly armored trucks that back up to Manning’s bank to dump off his money. As expected, he’d get even more TV deals and sponsors clamoring for his comedic TV wizardry. Afterward, additional armored trucks would have to schedule drop-offs at Manning’s local bank, and the money making merry-go-round would continue for as long as he likes. As great as it sounds to the average person, it still wouldn’t be enough for Manning.

For Manning, it’s not about the sheer money. It can’t be. He’s a high-level competitor. The competitor in Peyton Manning tells us that he’s more of a team owner than a team analyst. It’s more likely that Peyton Manning makes a run at owning the Carolina Panthers than fielding calls from ESPN. Just as we shouldn’t expect LeBron James or Stephen Curry to take a lucrative analyst job after their respective last plays, it’s highly unlikely that Manning will do so either. It simply feels like a step down. Maybe two.

Jon Gruden has certainly set a high bar for his eventual successor should he come to terms with the Oakland Raiders or any other team as head coach. Unfortunately, the Tim Tebow’s of the world won’t cut it as a replacement, and it’s unlikely that someone of Manning’s caliber accepts it. Maybe it’s a good bump for Tony Romo? For now, there’s an interesting debate centering around, “If Jon Gruden…”