Inside Gruden Playing The Rich Gannon RoleDecember 7th, 2012
Of the seemingly endless public reminiscing and storytelling this week from the 2002 Bucs Super Bowl team, which will gather at Sunday’s Bucs-Eagles game for a 10-year reunion featuring all the big names, perhaps Joe’s favorite nuggets came from Brad Johnson.
The Bucs’ Super Bowl QB painted a different picture of the famous story of Jon Gruden simulating ex-Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon in practice and working with Tampa Bay’s scout team to get the Bucs defense used to Gannon’s tendencies and preferences.
Last night, Johnson told the dean of Tampa Bay sports radio, Steve Duemig of WDAE-AM 620, that Gruden’s quarterback play against the vaunted Bucs defense was more about Gruden wanting to grab the spotlight and keep the team loose.
“John just wanted his moment. He wanted to take over,” Johnson said.
Johnson said Gruden kicked aside Shaun King and Rob Johnson, who were running the scout team, and wanted to call Raiders audibles, but they were unrealistic considering a real game would have had a 40-second play clock.
“It took [Gruden] about a minute and a half to call each play,” Johnson said. “He completed about five or six balls. I think the defense let him complete his balls. … He kept it light that week. He had us dialed in, because he knew all the pressure that was being built up.”
Johnson went on to say Gruden was obsessed with his own game film from that practice as it related to his QB performance.
Johnson also told a personal story of how he and Gruden and Keyshawn Johnson were on the Super Bowl sidelines during the game crafting a play. Johnson said Gruden was barking and he was agonizing trying to memorize it while Keyshawn’s mind was on other things, ”Man, doesn’t that popcorn smell good?” Keyshawn said.
Also intriguing, was Johnson talking about hiding injuries from the Buccaneers, saying he would pay his own doctors for medical testing and would demand the Bucs head trainer’s silence on those issues.
And this was a fun one, Monte Kiffin sat down with Booger and Rich. Kiffin rarely does interviews and it’s always fun to hear his unique voice and energy. Kiffin was very clear that he wants to return to the NFL next season, and he also shared plenty of 2002 memories. Interestingly, Kiffin laughed and explained how he broke various NCAA college coaching rules shortly after he left the Bucs for the University of Tennessee.