The early bond between Raiders coach and receiver was on full display during the third episode of “Hard Knocks.” 

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Yes, supports Antonio Brown. The Oakland Raiders coach has said as much in recent days.

But it goes deeper than that. A lot deeper.

Episode 3 of “Hard Knocks” showed just how much Gruden likes and backs his mercurial receiver, who has battled issues from his head (his well-documented non-certified helmet issues) to his toes (frostbitten feet thanks to a cryotherapy mishap in France last month), with Gruden going deeper in personal conversations with Brown than anything he has said publicly.

“I give the guy credit for standing up for what he believes in,” Gruden says early in the show. “Everybody else does in this country.”

Later, after Brown returned to the team following a two-week sojourn and participated in a walkthrough, Gruden told Brown: “Kinda like having you here. I think it’s going to be all right for us.”

A later conversation caught the two on the practice field, with Gruden asking Brown how his feet felt.

“Once they get real hot, then they get a little burning, but for the most part, I feel good,” Brown said. “Just when it’s really hot, the s— starts to burn. I gotta take my shoes off.”

Gruden laughed, “Why don’t you go to a cryochamber and get …”

“F— that, coach,” Brown shot back. “Not again. Never again.”

Later, Brown told Gruden, “Thanks for supporting me, coach. My f—ing head, the feet, people after me. You’ve been a constant supporter. Thank you.”

“I’ve been there,” Gruden said. “But if you’ve got any problems, anything bothering you …”

“We’re all in this together,” Brown said.

“I know you’ve got a lot of people in your ear because you’re like a corporation that’s kind of gone global,” Gruden said. “But at the end of the day, let’s keep this s— simple, you know what I mean? Football comes first. Everything else is f—ing way behind, you know what I’m saying?”

“Absolutely,” said Brown.

“Because you,” Gruden continued, “you handled all that seamlessly, beautifully.”

Brown was impressed with his coach’s vocabulary, saying, “Seamlessly. I like that word.”

“I was trying to go with a multi-syllable word,” Gruden joked.

“That’s a great word — seamlessly,” Brown laughed.

“Yeah,” Gruden grinned, “three syllables.”

“I gotta look that up,” Brown said.

“They don’t have those at Dayton or Central Michigan,” Gruden joked, referring to the colleges the two attended.


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