In today’s NFL, a big-name head coach wants to pick his own general manager. So once Jon Gruden became head coach of the Oakland Raiders again, it was a matter of time before Reggie McKenzie was let go.
When the smoke cleared from McKenzie getting fired, Mike Mayock was brought in to replace him. According to Mayock, there’s no better fit for him. You can tell by the job he did on NFL Network that he has the same passion for talent evaluating that Gruden has for coaching. They’re cut from the same obsessive cloth so Gruden will listen Mayock about players.
If Gruden wanted to simply run the show himself, he wouldn’t have fired McKenzie. And the way Gruden talks about his relationship with Mayock, it sounds like he was been planning this move all along.
“Mike and I go back about 20 years, from 1995 when I was with the Eagles,” Gruden said at Mayock’s introductory press conference. “We’ve been friends and associates for a long time. I know a lot of people in this business that love football and that study football, but I don’t really know anybody that loves it and studies it more than Mike Mayock. For the last several years we have been meeting behind the scenes on players and talking about one day maybe working together. Today is a really exciting day for me, personally.”
Raiders owner Mark Davis was all in on the idea.
“Over the years I’ve talked with Mike [Mayock] on the sidelines prior to games for many years,” Davis added. “Always telling him how much I respected his outlook and measured approach to talent evaluation, and I’ve always felt that I would love to have him as part of the Raider organization. I didn’t know in what role, so we talked about it, joked about it and all of that stuff over the years. When the opportunity came to talk with Mike this time around, he was one of the first people we wanted to talk to, among others. He hit it out of the park.”
And Mayock spoke about the fit from his side saying, “I’ve said for a lot of years that when the right opportunity came along for me personally, and from a big picture was the right fit, I was going to make the move.”
Gruden had to have the right situation for him to come back to coach in the NFL. Mayock needed the right fit to become a GM instead of just playing one on television. And neither were going to settle because they both had the good life of big money and no pressure as television analysts. That was until both found the right fit and united with the Raiders.
Relationships are often built in and around the game of football and lead to eventual reunions like this one. Former Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. got the job as a result of the dreams he and then head Raiders coach Jack Del Rio had about coaching together one day as old friends from their playing days. And when the time was right, they made it happen.
Gruden and Mayock have known each other for over 20 years and worked in the same circles as TV analysts for nearly a decade. Once Gruden got back into coaching, after one season of transition with the new front office, the time was right to bring in Mayock. And he made it happen.