Narrative of the Year: John Gruden is Returning To Tampa!
In 2017, it seemed as if everyone had a narrative. The field for this category was wide. It may be fun to do a series of articles retracing the narratives that shaped the 2017 Buccaneer fan landscape, but for the purposes of this award, we will keep it to one.
For there was only ONE that rose above all others. There was only ONE, no matter how subjective choosing an award may be, objectively crushed all others. No matter which set of criteria, no matter how contradictory they may seem towards each other, there was only ONE that hit all of them.
And that ONE: Jon Gruden is returning to Tampa. No other narrative this year garnered the press that this single narrative received. No other narrative this year sparked the amount of debate as this one. No other narrative had the lifespan of this one. And no other narrative ultimately proved to be as fallacious as this one. Almost as if Buc Fandom was collectively four levels deep inside of Inception, most believed this was going to happen, and many believed that it should happen.
Let us recount the story:
Jon Gruden, Super Bowl winning head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, unceremoniously booted from the organization nine years ago, has long wanted to return to coaching. His top choice: Tampa, where he still lives and works. Finally, in 2017, Gruden and the team owners finally set aside their differences, Gruden will be admitted to the team’s Ring of Honor, and the word gets out that Jon is preparing for an imminent return to the sidelines. He times his press conference announcing his admittance to the Ring of Honor to coincide with Hard Knocks being on site, and he is seen lurking the halls and practice fields at One Bucs, casting his shadow over current Buccaneers’ head coach, Dirk Koetter.
As the 2017 season spins out of control on its way to being one of the, if not THE, most disappointing seasons ever, the pieces, and Gruden Rumors, or Grumors, begin to fall into place, pointing towards yet another regime change for the Buccaneers. Perhaps the most suspicious of all was the utter silence from the Glazer family on the future status of Dirk Koetter and General Manager Jason Licht, who was in a contract year.
As week fifteen of the Buccaneers season approaches, the night Jon Gruden would be in the house for his Ring of Honor induction, with Koetter’s seat as hot as any in the NFL, the Grumors reach a fever pitch, on fan podcasts, social media sites, local media,and in the National Media. The stage is set for what could be one of the most awkward nights in Raymond James Stadium history, but alas, it turns out to be more anti-climatic than Y2K.
Nevertheless, Gruden to Tampa is all but a formality at this point. Then, in the eleventh hour, the cracks in the foundation appear. Local media outlets begin to cast a sliver of doubt into the rock solid narrative. And with just two day left until the final game of the 2017 season, news breaks that the Glazers have informed Koetter that he will be retained for the 2018 season. Just like that, the Gruden to Tampa narrative dies, resigned to be little more than a footnote in the history books.
Except for right now, as we award to the “Gruden to Tampa” Narrative the prestigious Pewter Plank 2017 Narrative of the Year Award.