Chucky, Plummer And A Million-Dollar Gift

February 12th, 2011

"Jimminy Christmas, you won't catch me turning down $5 million and an under-the-table payoff to drink beer and play handball."

On this football-starved weekend, Joe recommends you read this interesting feature on Jake Plummer, Chucky’s 2007 obsession and the former Buccaneer who didn’t want to play football.

If nothing else, Sports Illustrated writer Chris Ballard shares a glimpse at a piece of Bucs history.

In the summer of 2007 Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden flew seven hours from Tampa to Spokane. There he rented a car and drove 44 miles east to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. His traveling partner was Bruce Allen, the Bucs’ general manager, and they carried with them two footballs and a pair of new cleats. Shortly after 6 p.m. the duo walked into Capone’s, a sports bar in Coeur d’Alene where people gather to watch Broncos games, play pool and drink $3 Molsons.

Ten minutes later Jake Plummer and his wife, Kollette, walked in. Gruden rose and mustered all of his considerable charm, pumping Jake’s hand and telling him how excited he, Jon Gruden, guru of quarterbacks, was to sit down and talk football with Jake Plummer, the ultimate gunslinger. Beers were consumed, pizzas were ordered. By and by, Gruden and Allen made their pitch. Two months earlier the Buccaneers had made a trade with the Broncos for the rights to Plummer, even though he had announced that he was retiring from the NFL at age 32. In doing so, Plummer not only walked away from the game in his prime—he’d led the Broncos to the AFC Championship Game a season earlier—but also turned down the $5.3 million he would’ve earned during the 2007 season.

Gruden leaned in and started selling. Join us in Tampa Bay, he said, and with our defense and your leadership we’ll have a shot at the Big One. Come to Florida, he said, and you’ll be the hero you could never be in Denver in the shadow of John Elway. And then the kicker: Sign with us, Gruden whispered, and we’ll donate a million dollars to your Alzheimer’s foundation.

Just the visual of Bruce Allen and Chucky doing under-the-table fist bumps is enough to make Joe find a barf bag.

The concept of enticing a disinterested player with a $1 million donation also is interesting. Whose money was it? And is that kosher under the labor agreement?

Of course, fans will never know how Plummer would have fared competing with Jeff Garcia in 2007, while Chucky longed for Brett Favre and Brian Griese. Makes Joe appreciate Josh Freeman that much more this morning.

53 Responses to “Chucky, Plummer And A Million-Dollar Gift”

  1. Fire Greg Olson! Says:

    “Jon Gruden, guru of quarterbacks”

    /eyes rolling

  2. espo Says:

    Joe, you’re right. “Football-starved weekend.”

  3. Capt.Tim Says:

    “Jon Gruden- Guru of QuarterBacks”

    /Stomach turning!

  4. Snook Says:

    If Gruden were still in Tampa, we wouldn’t have Josh Freeman.

    And I’d much rather have Freeman over Gruden.

  5. big007hed Says:

    That sounds big time shady to me with the donating to the charity only if he plays for them…. I’m so glad Gruden is gone, I’m not saying Raheem is the best but I do like his style more, Gruden didn’t adapt well in my eyes… Oh well GO BUCS

  6. SebringSmitty Says:

    Snook Says:
    February 12th, 2011 at 10:44 am
    If Gruden were still in Tampa, we wouldn’t have Josh Freeman.

    And I’d much rather have Freeman over Gruden. Snook I agree 100% !!!!!

  7. jesse j Says:

    oh boy, here it comes. Gruden apologists in….3-2-1

  8. buc_realist Says:

    Gruden took the Bucs to the playoffs with Simms as Quarterback. That fact alone makes Gruden a Quarterback Guru. Let alone that all quarterbacks had some of their best years with Gruden running the offense.

  9. jesse j Says:

    LOL! Joe you are a Jedi Master when it comes to getting people to comment on these threads…in the offseason at that, kudos sir!

  10. Blackmagic00 Says:

    Who cares. We have the future now, not the mediocre past. I love where we are going. The Gruden era sucks compared to potential we have now. Go BUCS!

  11. eric Says:

    Offering one million to a charitable foundation is a bad thing? What the heck is shady about that? Is that really all you got Joe? C’mon you can sling mud at Gruden better than that.

    As for QB Guru,

    How did Gannon, Johnson, Sims and Garcia fare? Division title/pro bowl, Super Bowl Title/ pro bowl, Division Title, Division Title/ pro bowl. What a horrible Qb record! If you want to accomplish great things at the QB position, Jon Gruden is your man.

    For that matter how did Pittman, Galloway, and Bryant fare. Best years of their carreers under Gru. (as well as the Bucs team as a whole)

    But hey, he wasn’t nice to the media, so ignore the record and keep on slinging.

  12. Scott Says:

    Gruden was good at getting good performances out of journymen QBs. I don’t know how he would handle someone with a ton of upside like Freeman. His strength/style was to find someone who could execute his schemes without making big mistakes.

    His downfall of course was being given too much power. I don’t know how he would do with a great young QB, but as long as he was doing the drafting I question whether he would ever get one to work with.

  13. admin Says:

    Joe here,

    @Eric – Who said the proposed donation was shady? Not Joe. But it may violate the spirit of the CBA on some level.

    And the media for the most part loved Gruden, still does, so not sure where you’re going there.

  14. eric Says:

    The media in Tampa loved and loves Gruden?

    Coulda fooled me.

  15. CreamsiclePasties Says:

    Joe said: “Who said the proposed donation was shady?”

    My opinion…..unless they donated the $1M anyway, even though he didn’t sign, it’s shady as all get out.

    Shady might be the wrong word….maybe I’d go with dirty, scummy, or disgusting

  16. admin Says:

    Joe here,

    Think you can say the writers were very much in his corner for most of his time.

  17. Capt.Tim Says:

    He’s gotta try and go somewhere! If a guy is still trying to argue that firing wasnt a genius move by the Glazers, he doesn’t have many angles left to play!!

  18. Bucs4ever Says:

    Websters dictionary
    Idiot = Eric

  19. Capt.Tim Says:

    ( pokes Eric with a sharp stuck, looking for signs of life)

  20. Capt.Tim Says:

    Stick, damn IR, I hate iPhones spell check!!!!

  21. AtlBucsFan Says:

    Here’s a telling quote from that Jake Plummer article Joe: Gruden – “I’m looking at right now, and he was looking down the road.” I never had a Gruden gripe but this says volumes about why he never developed a quarterback for the future of the Bucs!

  22. MOBucs Says:

    @ Creamsicle … I think bribery is the term that comes to my mind. While it does seem like a dirty way of doing business, I have a feeling that these kind of under the table offers are more common than you and I think. I don’t see it as a huge deal though. Gruden was doing everything he could to bring in Plummer.

  23. oar Says:

    Guys, you can hate him or you can like him. I liked him and think he’s a damn good coach. We never would have a SuperBowl win without him, period! He had several players have career years under him, even on defense! He loves the game and inspires. I think it’s time some of you let go of all that hate!
    BTW I have moved on from it.

  24. Patrick Says:

    Not trying to make excuses for Gruden, but he was always kind of in a “win now” situation here in Tampa. He also had some bad luck.

    In 2005, Chris Simms was playing pretty well, and I thought he would possibly be the QB of the future. He led us to the playoffs and finished with an 82 rating (not bad for a 3rd round pick who was mediocre at best in college). Despite us having an 0-3 start under him in 2006, he actually wasn’t playing bad. We just had a lack of playmakers on the offense and our defense fell off the charts that year. Simms season ended and Gruden had no choice but to insert Bruce Gradkowski in to finish the season. 2006 was the season from hell.

    After the 4-12 2006 season, Gruden was on the hot seat and many people thought he would be fired. He had to turn it around quickly if he wanted to keep his job. So he signed Jeff Garcia, who had a great season with the Eagles the year before, to compete for the job. He won it and played pretty solid throughout 07. Even though he never put up flashy stats, I always liked the way he played. He was accurate, he never turned the ball over, and he could scramble. We had a good year and therefore Garcia kept the job going into 08.

    Then as we all know, we were 9-3 in 08, and things were looking great. But then we of course had the collapse, lost our last 4 games, and pretty much everyone left that offseason. Gruden, Kiffin, Garcia, Brooks, Galloway, Dunn, Bryant, etc. It was a tough time.

    I don’t think Chucky was against developing a young quarterback. He had success with Simms, but he had a career ending injury and he was never the same again. Gradkowski just sucked bad. But drafting a QB in the first round means you might have to endure some losing at first and Gruden couldn’t do that. He always had to “win now” to keep his job.

  25. Dude! Sweet! Says:

    I’m not going to dog Gruden too bad. He did deliver a Championship (insert arguments here). But my well-know disdain for Bruce Allen is hard to contain. Their history of promising one thing and doing the opposite caught up with them. Think about the draft pick they fly into town, set up at a local bar, only to select someone else (i forget who these players were). Their rope and pony show wore off long ago.

    Gruden brought the hope of offensive spark this team never had. He did not deliver and now is gone. We fans have been through alot the last few years. Now we have terrific potential with good coaching, young players and an ownership who will get challenged on their commitment to spending and reaching excellence.

    Thanks for the Gruden/Allen atricle to remind me how happy I am that we got that grime our of our organization. May Bruce Allen run another franchise into the ground and finally be shown as the smuchstein hack he truly is. A name is a name, but your record is what identifies you.

  26. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    “How did Gannon, Johnson, Sims and Garcia fare? Division title/pro bowl, Super Bowl Title/ pro bowl, Division Title, Division Title/ pro bowl. What a horrible Qb record! If you want to accomplish great things at the QB position, Jon Gruden is your man..”


    Do me a big favor Eric, never put the word great and Chris Simms anywhere near each other. Are you trying to make yourself look stupid so Joe can devote an entire article about you?

  27. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    I wouldn’t even put Johnson and Garcia in the “great” category, but CHRIS SIMMS! Come on man!!!

  28. Scott Says:

    I have to agree with the shady part. Just because it’s charity doesn’t change the fact they are offering Plummer something that, I assume, does not show up in the cap money as part of his compensation. There must be rules about this sort of thing. For instance can the team give the player a house or a car in lieu of cash and then not claim that as part of their cap number?

    Obviously going over the cap is seldom a problem around here but I am sure there are rules that must govern this. As someone higher up the comment chain said the only way this is not dubious is if they donated the money one way or the other.

  29. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    One thing I would correct you on Patrick. Gruden never wanted Simms in the first place. He only played Simms because Griese tore his ACL. He was never Gruden’s guy, so it’s really not that Gruden wanted to develop him. He had no choice.

  30. Capt.Tim Says:

    I think HawaiianBuc is right. Eric is jelous, and is campaigning for his own article. I hope he’s not gonna keep up the tantrums until he gets one! Haven’t seen a Thomas post. He must be throwing a major celebration! I bet he’s put up “man of the Day” banners all over his Moms basement! I’m sure that article was the crowning achievement in the guys life! Now he’ll be saying is post have credibility, because he’s a celebrity! Scary!!!

  31. espo Says:

    I’m with eric, except for his media nonsense. I don’t know how the majority of u can badmouth Gruden. We wouldn’t have a ring yet without him. Dungy was good but didn’t get us there. I believe Raheem will get us there but as its stands right now, Chucky is the best coach we’ve ever had. I don’t care if he never developed a QB. He didn’t need to during his major runs with Oakland and then here. Simms was turning out just fine before he got hurt. Bruce Bruce Gradkowski was an F-tard and shouldn’t tarnish an otherwise spotless record. That, and signing Jeff Garcia. He was always just good enough to lose in the playoffs. Looks like a fiddler crab running around every play…

  32. Capt.Tim Says:

    Strange how many people jump to Lil Chucky’s defense, considering how badly he Screwed up this team. The general consensus around the NFL, is that anybody BUT Tony Dungy could’ve won the SuperBowl with that team- especially that Defense! Tony was a great coach. But for those of you who remember, he was SOOO conservative in the playoffs that it killed us. Played”not to lose”, instead of “to win!”. But that team was ready to race!. From that point on, the team got thinner and older every year. You could see it happening. Never had the promised dangerous” motion offense” . Never really developed any consistant offense. At least Gruden left Monte alone. But if you figure that he had nothing to do with the defense- what did he do? Didn’t draft anyone. Didnt coach any young players to greatness. Didn’t build an offense. Didn’t maintain talent level. Didn’t keep any depth on the team.
    What exactly did this Lil guy do around here- other than ride kiffen’s defense into the ground? Yeah, go ahead. Jump to his defense. I can’t tell if He was a good coach. As far as I can see, he didn’t do enough work here to be able to judge him by!!! ( that should get a conversation going, lol)

  33. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    I am not bad mouthing Gruden, he deserves all the credit in the world for winning us a Super Bowl. But I couldn’t disagree any more that he was a great developer of QB’s. That is absolutely ridiculous. He was very good at using veteran QB’s to run his system, and there is nothing wrong with that (Hello, he got a championship out of it). But please, for all those with any intelligence, please everyone stop making him into some great QB guru! That’s about as accurate as saying Eric is a fan of Raheem.

    I would also love to know which games you were watching before Simms got his spleen destroyed to say he was playing well (that season). 1 TD and 7 Int’s, with a 54% completion percentage is now playing well? Gradkowski tarnished a spotless record? I guess you thought Griese was great too? Come on people, you can do better than this.

  34. Capt.Tim Says:

    HawaiianBuc- ya know I’m on your side, but it sure sounded like you were splashing a Lil Mud on Jonny! Don’t sweat it- he deserves it!

  35. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    Capt. Tim,

    Saying Gruden is a great QB guru or developer of QB’s is just false. It’s like saying Vince Lombardi was a pioneer in the passing game. Doesn’t mean he wasn’t a good coach, but that just wasn’t his forte.

  36. Capt.Tim Says:

    What was?

  37. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    Capt. Tim,

    Sorry, I have no idea why I directed that post at you, lol. I was referring to those (mainly Eric) who considers Jon a great QB guru.

  38. gitarlvr Says:

    Not a great QB guru. He turned one guy from a journeyman into a star(Gannon). His whole offense was newfangled and complex and confused defenses once upon a time. D coordinators figured it out and now he will never be the same again. He was a good coordinator but a bad HC. Bad at drafting. Bad at relating to his players. Yeah he was a tough, hard ass coach who demanded excellence all right. He was kind of like Bill Parcells, a Bill Parcells who couldn’t draft worth a crap and wasn’t respected by any of his players.

  39. gitarlvr Says:

    Brad Johnson and Jeff Garcia both had their best years NOT under Gruden. Thats a fact. Johnson led the freaking league in passing as a Redskin but was never anything more than a game manager in Gruden’s vaunted offense. Garcia was a badass in San Fran and again in Philly when McNabb went down but never quite managed to play at that level in Tampa where Gruden would blame him for not making plays that were there to make(was Garcia not making the plays or was Gruden’s scheme just not all it was cracked up to be?) and do awesome things like bench him for the immortal Brian Griese. He certainly didn’t do anything to develop Bruce Gradkowski, who has shown he actually belongs in this league since leaving Gruden’s tutelage for Oakland. He did a good job getting Chris Simms to heave the ball deep to a wide open Joey Galloway every chance he got. I’ll give him that. But the guru couldn’t correct the technical problem of every other pass getting batted down at the line of scrimmage, which is a correctable problem. Bottom line is the only QB that I saw who truly improved under Gruden was Rich Gannon and that was a long time ago at this point.

  40. Capt.Tim Says:

    Gitarlvr- wow, nice . Think that covered it pretty well!

  41. eric Says:

    @Hawaiian Buc

    I said Gruden coached Sims to do a great thing, win the NFC South. I know Sims isn’t great, which emphasises what a good job Gruden did to win the Title that year. And if you remember Chris played pretty darn well down the stretch, and within a whisker of a playoff win.

    Thats five Division Titles in the NFl with four different QB’s if my math is right. I am pretty sure Rah would welcome that record.

    It isn’t Walsh Noll or Shula, but it is pretty damn good.

    Leave the man be! So he traveled out to try and get Plummer to play and help the team. Geez. Did the man sleep with everyones wife on here?

  42. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    I’m pretty sure Rah would not want to have 4 different QB’s win Division Titles, especially in a rather short timeframe. He had no loyalty, and all of those guys pretty much hated him. He would throw any of those guys under the bus to get someone else, and he did it many times. That is why we never got any stability at QB. For literally the 100th time, I think Gruden was not a bad coach. However, stop this nonsense about him being this great QB guy. To me, that was probably his biggest weakness as a coach.

    I also have no problem with him recruiting jake Plummer (aside from the fact that it was, well, Jake Plummer). Knock yourself out Jon! It’s irrelevant, because it didn’t work, and Gruden is gone. I could give 2 sh!ts about Gruden at this point, but I’m tired of hearing you kiss up to him like he is Lombardi.

  43. eric Says:

    @Hawaiian buc

    Rich Gannon hates Gruden? He didnt continue coaching him cause he left the raiders to coach the bucs. I am pretty sure they remain good friends as Gruden reserrected his carreer. I guess Gruden should have stayed at the Raiders so he could continue coaching him, so not to cause lack of “stability”. This “hatred” would be news to Rich Gannon I think.

    Brad, unfortunately, reached the end of his time. Brad hates Gruden, who he won the Super Bowl with? I doubt that.

    Sims got de-spleaned. Was never the same with Gru or anyone else.

    Maybe Garcia hates him, not sure. I guess i couldnt blame him since he wanted Favre.

    Do you have any evidence that these guys hate him? Or perhaps it is you who is the “hater”, making unfounded assertions?

  44. espo Says:

    Gitarlvr, how can u say Brad Johnson had his best years without Gruden? He doesn’t have any other championships. That’s what its all about, isn’t it?

    Hawaiian Buc, you’re right. Simms was off to a crappy start that year. He did play well the previous season, as Eric pointed out. You gotta admit, he had a beautiful deep ball, you know, when Galloway was still allowed on the field.

    I can already tell one day in the future after Rah has his rings and he burns out and loses his team and there’s no Josh Freeman to will us to victory, we’ll have some same argument about Rah.

  45. Hawaiian Buc Says:


    First of all, Rich Gannon is not even in the conversation, he didn’t play for the Bucs. I don’t have any idea of their relationship, nor do I care. As for Brad Johnson, their relationship did get very rocky toward the end, although I would agree with you that he was done. He did, however, bench him (to third string) awful quickly after Johnson won a SB, but again I don’t entirely disagree with the decision. Maybe hate is too strong of a word, but I guarantee you they don’t exchange Christmas cards.

    Are you really making the case that his players loved him before he left? Seriously? WTF is wrong with you? Are you really that blinded by your love for him? It was documented that ownership went around talking to the players before they let him go, and they were not supportive of him. So, no that is not a unfounded assertion.

  46. eric Says:

    ok Hawaiian buc,

    Gannon was among the group i cited who played great under Gruden. You said they all hated him, not me.

    obviously you got no evidence, other than the supposed owners talking to the players thing, which nobody knows who was talked to. (except Clayton)

    The two player i know that did dislike/hate Gru were Clayton and Simeone Rice. I have heard guys like Brooks and Sapp speak very highly of him.

    I have never said the players all loved him. Don’t think they all hated him either. Probably can’t find anyone who coached in this league that doesn’t have some disgruntled players. I doubt Bellichick or Parcels get tons of invitations to Thankgiving Turkey. Not the nature of the biz to be loved by all.

    But your propensity to make allegations you cant back up speaks volumes.

    I cite facts and the actual records, you spew hate and speculation.

  47. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    Yeah, Eric, you site records and facts. Sure you do boss. You also have a serious issue with letting go. It’s so funny how 99% of the people on this board, all the experts, media, and players all love the direction this team is going, but you and your brother from another mother Thomas are the only 2 that know what you are talking about. I’m sure that the two of you are so much more qualified and observant than the rest of us. We must be the idiots, and you two are the wise ones. I guess we will see. It’s still funny to me how you refuse to say what happened after the Saints game (which you praised the team and said how wrong you were all year) until now. But I know you will never answer that question, because all you do is cite facts and actual records.

  48. eric Says:

    Nice changing the subject of the subject Hawaiianbuc.

    As for me I am bi-polar when it comes to the bucs. Whatever I post is what I genuinly feel at that moment in time. Could change when I get up tomorrow, who knows.

    The only thing that is consistent is that I make a spirited defense of Chucky when attacked, as he was in this post, including yours.

  49. gitarlvr Says:

    I never thought Chucky was a bad coach. Until the new regime reminded me what its like to actually draft players who are worth a damn. In retrospect now I think Chucky is a good coordinator who’s ego makes him think he belongs in the HC spot when he doesn’t. Sometimes great coordinators dont make great head coaches. Just having a good offensive scheme isn’t enough. It was enough for him to win a Super Bowl with a team already laden with all pro talents in their prime. But you still gotta draft. You still gotta be able to develop your draft picks and motivate your players and garner their respect. Gruden didn’t do this well enough in Tampa at all. After seeing the draft the new regime had and how well they developed those players in a short time, its rather appalling now to look back at how spectacularly Gruden\Allen failed to draft and develop this team. Anyone not on board with what this current regime is doing or who thinks the Gruden days were better can’t possibly feel that way for any legitimate reason. The future is simply too bright as Gruden himself would say. Anyone who thinks otherwise must have deep rooted ideological beliefs driving them to keep their hate alive at this point. There are no legitimate arguments left for being against what this regime is doing. I don’t hate Jon Gruden. But when the idiot wonder twins want to bash Raheem and defend Gruden it makes me want to find ways to bash Chucky. Kind of how the ambiguously gay duo will reach for any straw, no matter how dubious, to bash Raheem.

  50. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    Excellent post, Gitarlvr. I have said time and time again, I have nothing against Jon. He gave us a SB. However, it’s a new day, he’s gone, and I like where we are going. I never begged for him to be fired, but I didn’t cry when he was. The time will come one day for Raheem too (it does for all coaches), but I got a feeling he’ll have some jewelry on his fingers.

  51. kyle Says:

    I think it was Warren Sapp that said Dungy put all the ingredients together for the cake, put it in the oven, and all Gruden had to do was not drop it as he pulled it out and put it on the counter…I like Gruden for the fact he gave us a SB but it seems he can’t build anything.

  52. Apple Roof Cleaning Says:

    Say what u want, Gruden took us to, and won us a super bowl. Hey, he tried to lure Jake out of retirement, so wtf ? It is a new day for Tampa anyway.

  53. espo Says:

    I don’t care if Gruden can’t build a sand castle. He gets a hall pass in my book. This is in no way a knock on the new regime. I expect Raheem and Mark to be nothing but pure greatness.