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Jon Gruden’s comments to Richard Sherman sure seem like tampering

Why have a “legal tampering” period when “illegal” tampering goes unchallenged?

Jon Gruden, 2018 Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Richard Sherman will be a free agent when the new league year starts on March 17th.

If Sherman acts as his own agent, as he did when he signed with San Francisco in 2018, he will not be permitted to partake in the NFL’s “legal tampering period” which means we won’t be able to talk to any team, except the 49ers, until March 17th.

Even if he hires an agent, HE still can’t talk to any team, except the 49ers, until March 17th. His agent, however, can engage in discussions with other teams starting on March 15th.

Of course, none of that matters if the NFL is unwilling to take a stand on “tampering” - especially when it occurs in a very public setting . . . in February.

EXHIBIT A:

Richard Sherman is a co-host on the Cris Collinsworth Podcast. On February 2nd, Las Vegas Raiders Coach Jon Gruden was a guest. The following is a transcription (by me) from that podcast (with a lot of “Um”s removed):

Cris: We have a fantastic show for you here today. Not only Richard Sherman, but also Jon Gruden, and it is going to be special. You’re going to remember a lot of things out of this podcast.

That intro is followed by roughly 2-1/2 minutes worth of advertising plugs and banter, including:

  • The introduction of Jon Gruden;
  • A mention by Cris of the Raiders’ new DC, Gus Bradley;
  • Richard Sherman bringing up the fact that he had 8 picks in 2012 while complimenting Gus Bradley’s scheme;
  • Cris mentioning that Richard is sharing his resume;
  • Cris specifically mentioning the NFL’s anti-tampering policy and the fact that Gruden has been fined in the past . . .

And then we get the following, starting at the 3:22 mark:

Jon: Richard Sherman, if you are a free agent, which there is a rumor you are, we are looking for an alpha presence in our secondary. Somebody that can play this Hawk 3 press technique with the read step. If you’re available and interested, maybe you and I can get together at some point off air.”

Richard: Yeah, there’s a conversation to be had, for sure. You know, I am free and available these days, fortunately and unfortunately.

Sherman then waxed on about the scheme that Gus runs and gave a shout out to Pete and all of Seattle’s DC’s (except Norton), saying that Gus is “like one of the godfathers of it. You know, it’s him, Pete, DQ, you know, Kris Richard; they’re all in there, and so you’re going to get the originators.” Jon then talked about who else Las Vegas has brought in for their defense. Yada yada yada. Damage done.

Cris Collinsworth even added that he thought he was on a dating app listening to Jon and Richard talk about the scheme, cutting in to ask: “Is this Match-dot-com or what”?

Now, I’m not faulting Sherman here. Jon Gruden is the one who stepped over the line with BOTH FEET. Sherman simply responded - as he should, since he’s the cohost and the guest spoke to him directly. And while Sherman did sort of set Jon up by mentioning how well he did with Gus as his DC, Jon knows better than to swing at that pitch.

If the league wants to maintain any sort of credibility in regard to “tampering,” they have to address this, both forcefully and immediately. Or as “immediately” as the NFL addresses anything.

Both Jon Gruden and the team should be fined for his actions and, frankly, Richard Sherman should be prohibited from signing with the Raiders.