Updated August 20, 2022 - 11:36 pm
Former Raiders coach Jon Gruden blocked a deal that would have brought Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski to the Raiders in the 2020 offseason before the future Hall of Fame duo ended up in Tampa Bay, according to UFC president Dana White.
White appeared on “UFC 278 with the Gronks” on ESPN-Plus on Saturday night and was prompted by Gronkowski to tell the story.
“I worked to put a deal together for Brady and Gronk to come to the Raiders,” White said. “It was almost a done deal, and at the last minute, Gruden blew the deal up and said he didn’t want them. All hell broke loose. It was crazy. Brady was already looking at houses. So Las Vegas would have had Brady and Gronk the year the Bucs won the Super Bowl, except Gruden blew the deal up.”
Gronkowski, who was hosting an alternate stream of the UFC 278 broadcast with his father and brothers, immediately confirmed the details.
“That is exactly what happened, and you just told the story,” the now-retired tight end said. “I could have been in Vegas with you for the last three years.
“I would have been.”
Gronkowski later in the broadcast said he was glad the deal didn’t go through.
White said he planned to never share the story but did so with encouragement from Gronkowski, who prompted the conversation by asking White went went wrong with his recruiting pitch when he tried to lure Brady to the Raiders. White indicated there could be even more unshared details.
“There’s so much story that goes along with this behind the scenes,” White said.
This is not the first time White has been connected to rumors of Brady, a longtime friend, coming to the Raiders.
Brady, Gruden and Raiders owner Mark Davis attended UFC 246 at T-Mobile Arena just after the end of the 2019 season when Brady was about to hit free agency after a historic run in New England. White is a Patriots fan.
Davis was seen with Brady in a VIP area backstage that night, and White fueled rumors of a deal with the Raiders.
After the event, White told the Review-Journal it would make “too much sense” for the Raiders not to sign Brady, who White indicated preferred to play on the West Coast.
Gruden did not immediately return a message from the Review-Journal on Saturday night after White’s comments.
Brady made headlines in June 2021 when he revealed there was a team that didn’t want to sign him after a flirtation in free agency.
“One of the teams, they weren’t interested at the very end,” he said on HBO’s “The Shop.” “And I thought to myself, ‘You’re sticking with that (expletive),’” referring to that team’s quarterback.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr in the past has expressed frustration with reports the Raiders were interested in signing Brady.
He said he had a good source that informed him the Raiders were not the team Brady was talking about during his appearance on “The Shop.”
“From what I know it wasn’t me, which is good,” Carr said on the “Brother from Another” podcast in July 2021. “If it was, I’ve gotten in enough trouble trying to challenge some people to fights. As a man, Tom, I know you got the rings, but if it’s not me, then we’re good. What I heard is it wasn’t me, and so I’m good with that. … But, hey, if it was, then that’s different.”
Gruden resigned during the 2021 season after troubling emails were revealed. The Raiders are now coached by Josh McDaniels, who was Brady’s longtime offensive coordinator in New England.