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Jon Gruden faces former protegee Raheem Morris on Sunday

The Atlanta Falcons’ interim coach was a longtime Gruden assistant

Denver Broncos v Atlanta Falcons
Raheem Morris
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden is going to end Thanksgiving weekend by going up against one of his former assistant coaches — a man who still considers Gruden one of the most important people in his career.

During his press conference Monday, Gruden’s face lit up when a reporter told him the kind words Raheem Morris had for him. Morris is the interim coach of the Atlanta Falcons, the team that will host the Raiders on Sunday.

It will be the first time Gruden and Morris coach on the same field since 2008, when Morris was Gruden’s defensive backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Morris was a Gruden assistant in Tampa Bay for six years, with Morris to being promoted to defensive coordinator in 2009, shortly before Gruden was fired. Morris was then named Tampa Bay’s head coach.

The two have remained close.

“He’s a good friend of mine,” Gruden said of Morris. “He and Mike Tomlin were young secondary coaches when I was in Tampa, and I had more fun with those guys, I can’t even get into some of the stories. But Raheem is a heck of a coach. He’s a great guy and he knows the game inside-out. I pull for him every week except this week. I can’t wait to see him. I can’t wait to compete against him and like I said a minute ago, I know he’s going to have those guys ready.”

Facing Gruden will be special for Morris as well.

“He was one of the first people that taught me how to work, how to put time into it, how to come into work and absolutely beat people to work and thrive in that environment,” Morris said, according to the Falcons’ website. “The work ethic he brought to the game, how much he loved football, his care for his coaching staff and everyone around him.”

Thus, Sunday will be a memorable day for both Gruden and Morris.