UFC president Dana White says he helped broker deal for Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski to join Raiders in 2020, but Jon Gruden 'blew it up'

UFC president Dana White said he helped set up a deal for Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski to join the Las Vegas Raiders during the 2020 free agency period, but then-Raiders head coach Jon Gruden "blew the deal up."

White told the story during the "UFC with the Gronks" broadcast for UFC 278 on Saturday night. He said he never planned to tell the story, until Gronkowski asked him about it on the broadcast.

"I worked to put that deal together for Brady and Gronk to come to the Raiders," White said. "And it was almost a done deal. And at the last minute, Gruden blew the deal up and said that he didn't want them. And all hell broke loose, man. It was crazy.

"Brady was already looking at houses and it wasn't being said yet that Gronk was coming. So Las Vegas would have had Brady and Gronk the year that the [Buccaneers] won the Super Bowl, except Gruden blew the deal up. And there's so much story that goes along with this behind the scenes. And I was never going to tell that story until Gronk just said it."

Added Gronkowski: "Dana, that is exactly what happened."

The deal was in early 2020 when Brady, then a six-time Super Bowl winner with the New England Patriots, was entering free agency with an eye on leaving New England. Gronkowski was under contract with the Patriots at the time, though he had been retired for a year.

Is Derek Carr the ‘motherf***er’ Tom Brady mentioned on ‘The Shop’?

As the story began making the rounds on Saturday night, people began connecting it with a quick tale Brady told on HBO's "The Shop" in June.

Brady said he felt he was being snubbed by a team that was interested "and then all of a sudden they weren't interested in the very end." He never mentioned the team by name and questioned its decision to stick with the quarterback they had versus adding Brady to the mix.

"You're sticking with that motherf***er?" Brady said on "The Shop."

Given White and Gronkowski's story, the quarterback he was referencing could be Derek Carr. The Raiders quarterback threw for 4,103 yards, 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions that year. His 67.3% completion rate and 101.4 quarterback rating weren't that far off from Brady's in 2020 (65.7%, 102.2).

But Las Vegas finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs.

Rob Gronkowski glad he and Tom Brady didn't join Raiders

Brady ultimately signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who worked a trade with the Patriots to bring Gronkowski to town. They won the Super Bowl that first season together with head coach Bruce Arians in February 2021.

"I'm glad it did not go through," Gronkowski said. "It all worked out for the best, man. I'm glad we went to Tampa, man. It just worked out. I love that place."

It did not work out in the end for Gruden, who resigned as head coach of the Raiders in October 2021. It came after reports detailing the use of racist, homophobic and misogynistic terms used by Gruden in emails discovered as part of a cache of 650,000 of them collected during the league's workplace investigation into the Washington franchise. Gruden is suing for damages.

Gronkowski retired again this past June. Brady announced his retirement in February. It lasted 40 days before he announced he would return to the Buccaneers. They kick off Week 1 with a trip to the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 11.

A fan with cutouts of Tampa Bay Buccaneers players Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
A fan with cutouts of Tampa Bay Buccaneers players Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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