Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were almost Raiders: Dana White
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were almost Raiders: Dana White

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were almost Raiders: Dana White

Were Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski Almost Las Vegas Raiders?

Yes, that’s what UFC President Dana White said Saturday night on “UFC 278 with the Gronks” in an interview with Gronkowski, who of course ended up joining Brady in Tampa Bay and winning a Super Bowl with Buccaneers in 2021.

Gronkowski introduced the topic on the show, saying White gave Brady a recruiting pitch when he was a free agent and then asked the UFC boss “what went wrong” and why Brady didn’t sign with Vegas.

From left to right: Tom Brady, Dana White, Rob Gronkowski and Jon Gruden.
From left to right: Tom Brady, Dana White, Rob Gronkowski and Jon Gruden.
USA TODAY Sports; Getty Images (2); USA Today Network

White seemed reluctant to tell the story: “Am I telling this story right now, Rob?” White asked. “Do you want me to tell this story?”

Gronkowski said yes and added that he “could have been in Vegas” with White for the past three years.

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“You would have been,” White said emphatically, and Gronkowski agreed with that assessment.

White said there was one person who blew up the deal – Jon Gruden.

“We’ve been working to put this deal together for Brady and Gronk to come to the Raiders,” said White, who is not connected to the Raiders in any official capacity. “It was pretty much a done deal. At the last minute, Gruden blew up the deal and said he didn’t want them.

“All hell broke loose, man. It was crazy,” White said. “Brady was already looking at houses and there was no word yet that Gronk was coming. So Las Vegas would have had Brady and Gronk the year the Bucs won the Super Bowl, except Gruden blew the deal. There is so much story that goes along with it behind the scenes. … I was never going to tell that story until Gronk just told it.”

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Gronkowski supported White’s account, saying that is “exactly what happened.”

Gruden — who resigned from the Raiders last October after it was revealed he had used homophobic and misogynistic language in a series of emails over a seven-year period — and then-GM Mike Mayock were responsible for all decisions regarding the staff at the time.

Las Vegas fired Mayock in January after three struggling seasons with the team, which compiled a 25-24 record and a playoff appearance. The Raiders are now coached by Josh McDaniels, the Patriots’ longtime offensive coordinator, and their new general manager is Dave Ziegler, who was also in the New England organization.

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After White told the story, Gronkowski said he was happy how things turned out.

“I’m glad it didn’t go through,” Gronkowski said on the show. “Everything went well, man. Glad I was in Tampa, man. It just came out. I like that place.”

Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl champion now in his third season with Tampa Bay, ended up signing with the Buccaneers in 2020 after 20 years and six Super Bowl runs with coach Bill Belichick’s Patriots. Brady has been on an organization-sanctioned leave of absence from the Buccaneers for an undisclosed personal matter.

Gronkowski, who had retired for a season, reunited with Brady and won his fourth Super Bowl, all with the surefire Hall of Fame signal-caller. The tight end announced his retirement for the second time in June.