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Sean McDonough opens up about ‘awkward’ exchanges with Jon Gruden on ‘Monday Night Football’

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is often portrayed to be a charismatic guy, but those who’ve worked with him behind the scenes may not feel that way.

Gruden is often shown by TV cameras smiling or conversing with a member of his staff on the sidelines, and his good complexion is why he comes off as a personable guy to many.

But there are two sides to every coin.

ESPN’s Sean McDonough knows Gruden well, as the two worked together in the “Monday Night Football” booth for a year, back in 2016, when he replaced Mike Tirico.

And while he’s been quiet about the interactions he once had with the now-head coach of the Raiders, the “SI Media Podcast” appeared to be the platform on which he felt the need to tell his story.

“It wasn’t great, but I’m glad I got the chance to do it,” McDonough said. “Do I think we were bad? No, I thought it was fine. But it could’ve been great in my opinion, and it wasn’t.” 

He continued: 

“You’re standing there next to somebody wondering, ‘If I ask him a question about this, is he gonna answer it or is he gonna be annoyed that I asked him?’” McDonough said. “So it was uncomfortable. … The part of it that bothered me was the narrative of some people in your line of work, ‘Oh, well that was a little too big for McDonough.’ I did the World Series when I was 30. I don’t think anybody thought I was nervous or out of place.” 

The two comprised a solid team, and McDonough, to his credit, played it off well. He made it work.