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By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Jon Gruden is a day away from calling the Vikings game, and he’s spending time talking with high school coaches talking about the game that’s defined his life.

So what does high school football mean to him?

“It means everything to me,” he said. “It’s where it all starts. It’s where I learned the most valuable lessons that I learned in my life. I learned about sportsmanship, teamwork. I got accountability, I got my work ethic by being on a team. I learned all about my mental toughness. Some of my greatest memories are with my high school teammates behind the scenes in tough practices, getting yelled at by coaches. I learned to love the adversity.”

He also stops by Winter Park to talk to a group of high school players. He coached the game there with local high school athletes as a Super Bowl champion in the NFL.

“When I got fired from coaching, I formed a fired football coaches association,” Gruden said. “I coached my son’s high school football team in Florida and I realized that the coaches don’t get paid any money, the budget is smaller and smaller every year — it’s a national problem. In a lot of places, kids have to pay to play football.”

His mission now is, in part, to support the coaches who help shape lives.

“Sometimes all these high school coaches need — all these teachers need — is a pat on the back,” Gruden said. “We keep kicking them, we keep yelling at them and telling them how negative they are, how bad things are, criticize them. It’s getting old. These guys need to be thanked, they need to be encouraged. They need to be appreciated more, in my opinion.”

He’s considered the guru of coaching quarterbacks, so Mike Max asked him to break down one veteran hopeful’s game… Check out the video above to see what he thought of a reporter turned football player.


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