During Wednesday’s joint practice between the Los Angeles Rams and Las Vegas Raiders, the two teams were clearly fired up. Multiple fights broke out and there was trash-talking to spare. Lost in the shuffle was an early interaction between Jon Gruden and Sean McVay.
Gruden was the man to give McVay his NFL start back when he was in Tampa Bay in 2008 so the two go way back. That’s why the Raiders and Rams have shared joint practices in two of the last three seasons. Though many would argue that the student has surpassed the teacher, Gruden certainly put McVay in his place on Wednesday.
The first handshake between the two coaches was caught on camera. Instead of a mutual firm handshake, Gruden destroyed McVay’s hand in a photo that has now gone viral online.
Nothing is worse than not be able to get a good grip on a handshake. Gruden’s got a look on his face as if he was doing it intentionally. Regardless, there’s a lot of respect between the two coaches but there’s no doubt Gruden would love to put the 35-year-old McVay in his place.
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McVay Used to Be Gruden’s ‘Piss Boy’
The Gruden and the McVay families have built up strong ties over the years. McVay got his start with Jon Gruden and then got his big break as an offensive coordinator for his brother Jay Gruden. The Rams head coach didn’t play in the NFL or coach in the college ranks but Gruden was the man to give him his first chance. The current Raiders head coach detailed the story on Hard Knocks back in 2019:
Sean McVay came my last year as the head coach in Tampa. He wanted to get in the NFL, so we made him a secretary really — just to get him in the building. McVay started like I started. They called me the piss boy, in the Mel Brooks’ movie. You know, they’d call for the guy to come running over there with the bucket. Next thing I know it, he’s helping coach the wide receivers and he’s coming up with ideas for game plans.
McVay has gone from being Gruden’s piss boy to winning Coach of the Year in 2017 and leading a team to the Super Bowl. He’s certainly come a long way.
Raiders Looking Good in Joint Practices
The Raiders are heading into a very important year. They’ve missed the playoffs in each of the last four seasons and pretty much everybody is counting them out. While the team does have their red flags, it’s not fair to suggest that they’ll be any worse than last year’s squad that went 8-8.
What’s been really encouraging to see from the first joint practice with the Rams is how the defense has played. They forced three interceptions on Matthew Stafford and consistently played well. The first-team defense didn’t even allow a single touchdown. Yes, it’s just practice but the signs are pointing up for the unit. Gus Bradley is an upgrade at defensive coordinator and they’ve upgraded the roster at a number of positions. We already know the offense will be solid. If the defense can be a top-15 unit, the Raiders should be in the playoffs for just the second time since 2002.