OCCUPATION: Head coach for the Oakland Raiders
MARITAL STATUS: Wed for nine years to Cindy, 38, a homemaker, with whom he has three sons
RESIDENCE: Pleasanton, Calif.
BIG BREAK: Becoming the NFL’s youngest head coach and then leading his team to last year’s 12-4 season and the AFC championship game
SMOOTH OPERATOR: “I would love to grow a beard or mustache, but I have a hard time growing any hair. I can grow the outline of a mustache—that’s about it.”
PERILS OF LOOKING YOUNG: “I’m this blond, blue-eyed, surfer-dude guy. When you look this young, you have to prove to players that you can help them.” In fact, Gruden looks so boyish that “I was carded at an Oakland A’s game two years ago,” he says, “and I forgot my ID, so a fan had to buy me beer.”
PLAYING THE FIELD: “Our fans have a love affair going with Jon,” says quarterback Rich Gannon. “They appreciate that he’ll go out and shake hands with them.” But for some, says backup QB Rodney Peete, that’s not enough: “I see signs in the stands, ‘Marry Me Jon!’ Usually that kind of attention is on the players, not the coach.” Gruden’s reaction to his sex appeal? “It’s odd for me. I think I look like a freckle-faced Huckleberry Finn.”
CREATURE OF HABIT: Gruden gets his hair cut at Supercuts every four weeks, goes to bed at 11 p.m. and wakes at 3:17 a.m. for a very early morning workout and a few quiet hours at the office. “My lucky number is 317,” he says. “And I don’t require a lot of sleep.”