The Missing Link

August 10th, 2023

BILL CURRIE FORD IS OPEN DAILY! Shop now online and don’t forget to request the Ira Kaufman Discount. Nationwide lifetime warranty on new vehicles.


One man was absent. Conspicuously absent.

Rondé Barber’s former Buc teammates and coaches came out in force during his unforgettable weekend at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Fellow Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp and John Lynch celebrated with Barber at the Gold Jacket dinner, the enshrinement ceremony and the subsequent party at a posh vineyard. They posed together for pictures and reminisced about an iconic defense now featuring four members honored in Canton.

Mike Tomlin attended the Gold Jacket dinner, along with Raheem Morris, another one of Barber’s position coaches in Tampa. Tony Dungy was everywhere and even 83-year-old Monte Kiffin turned out, despite taking a fall last week.

You couldn’t miss Brad Johnson, Mike Alstott, Warrick Dunn, Joe Jurevicius, Brian Kelly, Ryan Nece, Shelton Quarles and the Glazers, celebrating one of their own and taking pictures behind Barber’s bust.

But Barber’s head coach for seven of his 16 NFL seasons in Tampa was a no-show. Jon Gruden was nowhere to be found.

And that’s a shame.

Jon Gruden explained his absence.

Gruden said he wasn’t going to Canton because he didn’t want to be a distraction. He didn’t want to take away from Barber’s special weekend in any way, knowing cameras would have spotted him in the crowd during the induction ceremony.

Gruden’s decision was understandable, given the nature of his resignation as head coach of the Raiders almost two years ago amid the release of crude private emails he sent long ago to former Washington team president Bruce Allen.

Currently, Gruden is suing the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell, alleging it was the league that leaked the emails in an effort to drive Gruden out of his job.

All-Time Great, All-Time Favorite

Barber appreciated the text Gruden sent the day before Barber’s induction, congratulating him on achieving pro football’s ultimate individual honor. It was Gruden who helped Barber achieve the ultimate team honor by guiding the 2002 Bucs to a championship.

Gruden coached Barber from 2002 to 2008 and by the time the two men parted ways, there was little doubt in Gruden’s mind that No. 20 had supplanted all others as his favorite player. (Let’s not forget that Gruden also coached Hall of Famers Jerry Rice, Charles Woodson and Tim Brown — in addition to Sapp, Brooks and Lynch.)

Warren Sapp says the accusations of Jon Gruden being a racist are laughable.

When I visited Gruden at his office in January, a few weeks before my Hall of Fame presentation, he grabbed me by the shirt collar and demanded that I push Barber across Canton’s doorstep for the Class of 2023.

“Otherwise, don’t come back,” he said.

Yes, this was Gruden’s all-time favorite player. And yes, he would have loved to celebrate with Barber and teammates from Tampa Bay’s first Super Bowl team.

Can’t you envision Gruden grooving to the beat from CeeLo Green on stage during Barber’s lavish party?

Instead, Gruden was sweating it out in Metairie, La., wearing a T-shirt and a visor with the Saints logo as an invited guest at a sweltering training camp.  That hardly compares with having a cool drink at Barber’s cool shindig while high-fiving the guys who helped Gruden hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy..

Gruden entered the Buccaneer Ring of Honor in 2017, along with the franchise’s late owner, Malcolm Glazer. His name was brandished on the Raymond James Stadium facade, right between Barber and Lynch. But a week after Gruden resigned amid the email scandal, the Bucs removed his name from the facility because “his actions go against our core values as an organization.”

The controversy swirling around Gruden likely was factor in the franchise’s decision to skip a 20th anniversary celebration of the 2002 championship.

Had Gruden decided to accept Barber’s invitation to join the festivities in Canton, he could have negotiated a later date to work with newcomer Derek Carr, his former quarterback with the Raiders. Instead, he bypassed a rare opportunity to share Super Bowl memories with Barber and his former Buc players.

The emails that forced Gruden’s resignation were sent between 2011 and 2018, when he worked as an analyst for “Monday Night Football.” When the emails became public, Gruden was widely condemned for being a racist, but Sapp and other black players I spoke to said it was an unfair label.

“I grew up in the South,” Sapp said. “I know one when I see one and Jon Gruden ain’t it.”

21 Responses to “The Missing Link”

  1. PewterStiffArm Says:

    The ceremony was amazing Ira. Ronde spoke with pure professionalism. A perfect combination of memorizing his heart felt speech and from time to time glancing down at the teleprompter, priceless. I personally would like to thank you Ira for your hard work and dedication to helping the process along. It would have been a little harder for Ronde to be inducted without your knowledge and persistence. I now live in North Carolina, home of the stinking Panthers. My heart and obsession will always be with the Buccaneers after being introduced to them back in 1977. Without JoeBucsFan I would be lost up here. As far as I am concerned the only thing missing from the ceremony would have been a crescendo of excitement coming from the loyal Bucs fans in attendance chanting LET’S GO IRA, (CLAP, CLAP, CLAP, CLAP, CLAP). LET’S GO IRA, (CLAP, CLAP, CLAP, CLAP, CLAP).



  3. Dean Bucs fan for life!!! Says:

    Warren Sapp said: “John Gruden aint it!” Let’s move on! Jon Gruden is a significant figure in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history! We’re not removing him from the SB37 statues in the lobby of One Buc Palace!

  4. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Gruden made the right call

  5. '79 Defense Says:

    Such a shame that some fans to this day still try to sound intelligent in “blaming” Gruden for being the first coach in Bucs’ history to win a Super Bowl. The nerve of him doing what nobody else could do before him.

    Say it was Dungy’s team or whatever else, but NOBODY picked the Bucs to win the SB that year. Gruden got the job done. Thanks Jon.

  6. View from 132 Says:

    That email trial could be a huge huge mess for the NFL. There are 25+ years of NFL emails, and you are talking about gym teachers going back and forth. It will be filled with offensive comments in every direction.

    Gruden could potentially require all teams to submit their email archives as evidence.

  7. PSL Bob Says:

    If I’m not mistaken, Ronde didn’t mention Gruden by name in his acceptance speech, instead referring to him by his initials. The emails were deplorable, but I just don’t agree with turning a blind eye to his accomplishments. Very reminiscent of the Johnny Bench situation?

  8. rrsrq Says:

    Gruden did make the right call, it was not the core values the Glazers were pissed about, it was the direct insults thrown toward Bryan and Joel. It is one of those things, and I like Sapp, does not believe JG is a racist, he is just unfiltered. Everyone at OBP, including Ronde understands the role he played.

  9. Jeff’s grandpa Says:

    Grudens name should still be up in RayJay get thicker skin glazer boys

  10. Brandon Says:

    Gruden is an a-hole. He is absolutely guilty of that. He HATES on everyone. But I don’t think he hates people because of their color. He hates because they aren’t as smart, dedicated, or as passionate as he is. He LOVED Barber, Jerry Rice, Sapp, and many others because they were most like him. Hated other white players because they weren’t. It’s simple.

  11. Proudbucsfan Says:

    I’m really tired of people saying John gruden won with dungy’s team, if that’s the case then Bill Callahan won with Grudens team and the Bucs wouldn’t have won the superbowl without gruden running every play the raiders had in practice during superbowl week. John Gruden’s destiny was to win that 2002 superbowl no matter which team he coached the Raiders or the Bucs. If Dungy was still the coach of that 2002 team they wouldn’t have gotten past the first round of the playoffs.

  12. SlyPirate Says:

    Gruden is not a good dude

    Everyone I know, who knows Jon will tell you he’s two-faced, a habitual liar, megalomaniac, and genuinely a POS. Is he a bigot? IDK. I do know where there is smoke there is fire.

    BTW, same people say even worse things about Sean Peyton. People don’t like Jon but they HATE Peyton.

    Loved 2002. I appreciate Jon for the SB. His FA and draft tendencies ran both the Bucs and then the Raiders into the ground.

  13. westernbuc Says:

    The Glazers hosted a fundraiser for the 45th president (which is fine by me) yet had the nerve to strip Gruden of the Ring of Honor.

    Considering the same people signed off on drafting Jameis Winston despite the allegations, it’s obvious to me when it comes to character, the Glazers are all talk and no substance.

  14. PanthersSuck! Says:

    Bring Gruden’s name back to the ring of honor

  15. ModHairKen Says:

    Westernbuc. That’s a very astute observation. The allegations against Jameis were far worse than the emails Gruden wrote. I defy anyone to state under oath that they’ve never said or written as bad or worse than Gruden.

    How is it that it was okay to draft Jameis but Gruden had to have his name pried off the wall?

    The hysteria of the PC mob, the woke crowd, the Me Too and the cowards is shameful. The Glazers played into it.

  16. unbelievable Says:

    @westernbuc, I agree, sadly.

    That said, it was a mature move by Gruden to not attend for not wanting to be a distraction on Ronde’s big day, even if he SHOULD have been there…

  17. Pelsbuc61 Says:

    Western Buc is spot on. Glazers hosted Trump, had no problem with Winston and signing free agent TE Stevens, yet got offended by a leaked email which btw everyone knows was an intentional hit job. So much for “core values”.

  18. RustyRhinos Says:

    I would have to look up CeeLo Green on Spotify, to know who he is. Does he do any Alman Brothers or Grateful Dead or The Band cover songs?

    Glad Barber has made it to the NFL Hall of Fame. I watched him get his 20th INT in Charlotte along with a PD and a Sack! Told the Panther fan next to me, Barber will be in the Hall one day. He agreed and said he is a fan from afar. Congratulations!

  19. Jmarkbuc Says:


    Perfectly said.

  20. garro Says:

    “I grew up in the South,” Sapp said. “I know one when I see one and Jon Gruden ain’t it.”

    Don’t agree with Sapp most of the time… but yeah!

    Nuff said… What a Effing sham!

    Go Bucs!

  21. garro Says:

    I don’t agree with Sapp on much but Yeah this time he is absolutely right.

    What a &^%$ing sham!

    Roger Goodell and others need to be reined in from doing any other smear campaigns in the future.

    Go Bucs!