"It was a tough week, hearing what was being said about me, and yeah, I was challenged," Gruden said late on Sunday as he walked from his hotel room to the lobby. "It was a grind of a year, but I'll tell you what, it's been a blast. I'm not a philosophical man, but this has deep meaning for me."
Just before arriving at his destination for a television interview, Gruden stopped to hug his mother one more time. Then he turned the corner and was immediately spotted by hundreds of Bucs fans waiting to enter the team's victory party in a nearby ballroom. Many of them began pointing at Gruden, snapping photos and yelling, "We love you, Jon!"
The commotion stopped him, and for a moment it looked as if Gruden might get choked up, as his mother had earlier. But, in an instant, the smirk returned, and the most valuable football coach in America strode swiftly onward, a trail of applause in his wake.