I wrote my column today about what Jon Gruden -- the former Tampa Bay coach and current TV analyst -- thinks about the Carolina Panthers. Here's the link to that.
What was cool about talking to Gruden was that he actually knew something about Carolina. As strange as this seems, a lot of TV analysts really don't. I've talked to them a number of times before games -- or listened to them during games -- and they mostly parrot whatever has been in the newspapers or online blogs that week. They might throw in a nugget or two from the interviews that they do with the players and coaches on both teams on either Friday or Saturday before the game, but that's about it. You know what I'm talking about.
Gruden is different. A workaholic who used to famously get up at 3:17 a.m. each day while a coach, he still studies the teams he's going to analyze like the coach he was (and will someday undoubtedly be again).
I gave him no advance warning I would ask him about the Panthers -- the phone interview was originally set up for him to talk to me about Jimmy Clausen for my long story on Clausen this past week.
But once we got through that and he still seemed to be enjoying talking football, I asked him off-the-cuff about the Panthers, and he quickly ran through much of their lineup and what he thought about them. It was enlightening, and made me think more of his preparation skills. Gruden will be part of the broadcast team that does Carolina's exhibition game at Baltimore Aug.12th.