Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate DNVR Sports Community!

One of Case Keenum's biggest fans has become one of his biggest rivals

Zac Stevens Avatar
September 12, 2018

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — No one in the NFL world could have predicted Case Keenum to take the league by storm and have the dream-like season he had with the Minnesota Vikings in 2017.

That is, except, for one person.

“I’m accused of liking everybody anyways,” Jon Gruden said in 2012 on one episode of ESPN’s wildly popular “Gruden QB camp” hosted by the former larger-than-life media personality. “Hell, I like Keenum, too. I love this Keenum.”

But that was in 2012 when Gruden was the NFL media personality, while Keenum was on the verge of becoming one of many undrafted players potentially looking at the end of their football careers.

Now, things stand drastically different.

Gruden is back in Silver & Black, leading the Denver Broncos’ arch-rival Oakland Raiders and the quarterback he once “loved” is donning Orange & Blue.

Despite the script being flipped on its head, on Wednesday, Gruden doubled down on his prediction and expectations for the undersized quarterback moving forward.

“I told our people a long time ago when I first came here, I think the free agency acquisition in pro football this year is going to be Case Keenum,” Gruden said, raising eyebrows around the room during his conference call with the Denver media.

Who’s to say Gruden won’t be right about this one? Heck, he may be the only person who accurately assessed him back in 2012.

“Does the draft really matter? All it takes is one coach that believes in you. Just be ready. Just be ready. Just be ready because you will get your chance,” Gruden said in 2012. “My point is, this isn’t inflated production. This is NFL Pro Bowl production.”

Wednesday, almost as if he was reminiscing back to his QB camp meeting with Keenum, Gruden understandably said he wasn’t surprised by how far the signal caller has come in his NFL career. Then the head coach echoed a nearly identical phrase he uttered six years ago.

“I’ve been accused of liking everybody, but I really like Keenum,” Gruden said in his one-of-a-kind voice.

When the rest of the world passed on him in 2012 — including the Broncos — and most of the country doubted him even after his 22-touchdown-to-seven-interception season in 2017, Gruden had, and has, his back for one reason in particular.

“What he did in Minnesota, the toughness that he puts on tape. He made a throw last week against Seattle, there’s two or three Seahawks beating down on him, it’s a 14-yard gain,” Gruden explained with passion seeping out of his voice. “His pocket presence, I think his personality, his fight, his grit, he gets the most out of himself. I bet you ask all of those players, they have a ton of respect for him.”

Six years earlier, nothing was different as Gruden put his stamp of approval on Keenum in large part due to his fearlessness.

“You know what I love about you, Keenum? You’ve got some serious guts,” Gruden said looking him in the eye. “Not many guys can stare down a gun barrel like this, man.”

Gruden, and now the Broncos, didn’t need a 6-foot-5, 230-pound quarterback with a laser-rocket arm to believe in a signal caller.

Speaking of Peyton Manning, Gruden said Keenum gives the Broncos consistency and quality play at the quarterback position they haven’t had since Manning left the organization after the 2015 season.

Some, including the man himself, may say this is vintage Gruden liking everyone. But when asked on Wednesday about his own three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, the former media personality and head coach didn’t have the same glowing ring to his answers.

“Well, the first half I was really excited,” he said, talking about Derek Carr’s first-half performance in Oakland’s Week 1 loss. “I thought he was great in the first half. Second half, I don’t know what happened. I take that upon myself. I’ve got to call better plays.”

Later asked how Carr has handled the playbook, Gruden said, “He’s done fine.”

In 2012, while the NFL wasn’t exactly stoked on the record-setting quarterback from Houston, Gruden was on the edge of his seat “dying to meet” the 6-foot-1, 215-pound prospect.

Six years later, Keenum’s made his new rival look like a genius.

“You’re going to be alright, Keenum… There is no doubt you’re going to be just fine.” Gruden said under far different circumstances in 2012. “You just keep competing. You just keep working. Somebody’s going to take you. Somebody’s not. Somebody’s going to be sorry.”

Although it’s not neccesarily his fault, Gruden could end up being the sorry one on Sunday.

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?