DENVER (CBS4) – The John Lynch Foundation has generated nearly $500,000 in scholarships for local students, and every year Lynch treats them to a special luncheon at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. This year Lynch brought along an old friend — his former head coach, John Gruden.

Gruden and Lynch won a Super Bowl together in Tampa. Two years later Lynch went from the Bucs to the Broncos.

“The guy fired me,” Lynch laughed. “But we’re still great friends. I let him know that every time he’s here, so maybe that’s why he did it.”

Gruden owed him one. He was the keynote speaker at Lynch’s annual “Salute The Stars” luncheon.

“I used to coach in the NFL. I remember losing right here in 2008 with the Buccaneers. When I was coaching the Oakland Raiders for four years I was 0-4 here,” Gruden told the audience. “To be honest with you, I’m a loser in Denver.”

But he’s brilliant on Monday Night Football, and on his “Gruden Quarterback Camp” on ESPN.

The Gruden’s QB Camp show on ESPN recently featured Broncos rookie quarterback Brock Osweiler.

“Man, he’s a big guy, man he’s big. He can actually sit down in a chair and reach the top of a chalkboard; so rangy, big, great kid,” Gruden said. “He has a thirst for it too. He really wants to be good, so I think that’s going to allow him to take coaching and get consistently better.”

During his trip to Denver Gruden huddled-up with Peyton Manning during a private function at the Lynch house. They talked football into the wee hours of the night.

“Watching Gruden and Peyton go at it just talking ball; I wish I could have had that conversation when I was still playing,” Lynch said. “I learned a lot last night.”

Lynch said Gruden actually brought a videotape he had prepared for Manning.

“Some things he wanted him to see,” Lynch said. “I think he’s someone Peyton has always admired because they’re both not only great at what they do, they are grinders and they have to outwork everybody else.”

“I’m really excited for Peyton Manning. Obviously I hated to see his run in Indianapolis come to an end. He’s a good friend of mine,” Gruden said. “I’m excited he hooked up with John Fox; a veteran coach, a defensive coach. I think it’s going to allow Peyton to really flourish in a new setting.”

Lynch agrees. The other thing they agree on is the future of football. Can it survive the brain injury issues that are now linked to the sport?

“I think the sport will survive, it’s a great sport; I think the greatest sport,” Lynch said. “It’s at an all-time high in terms of popularity. I think this is a real issue though … it’s an issue they’re facing and they better address it.”

“Unfortunately a lot of people do get hurt in certain professions, whether we’re playing rugby or playing hockey; some professions are more risky than others,” Gruden said. “Not everybody feels negative towards football, I can assure you that. It’s a great game, it’s a great league, and it’s a great character builder. That’s how I feel.”

Some interesting facts about Gruden is that he only sleeps two to three hours a night and he carries his cellphone in his sock.


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