For the first time since being canned by the Buccaneers, “Chucky” is speaking out. Former Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden has made his first public comments since Tampa Bay made the surprise move to fire him on January 16th. Gruden says it’s not a matter of if he will coach again, it’s a matter of when. “Whether it’s the NFL, college, high school or, maybe, I’ll just be the best damn flag football coach in the history of Florida. I’m now head of the FFCA — Fired Florida Coaches Association,” Gruden said.
The fiery coach has been taking a beating from some former players, as Michael Clayton, Jeff Garcia and Simeon Ricde have all spoken out against the former coach. “I’m not the first coach to take potshots. Hey, some people were taking potshots at Tony Dungy when I got here,” said Gruden. “Jeff Garcia, Michael Clayton, I wish those guys the best. I hope Raheem gets this thing going again.”
Raheem meaning Raheem Morris, who is the coach that has taken over for Gruden. Morris got the position quickly after Gruden was fired. There was a lot of talk about why Gruden was fired, which included a season ending loss to the Raiders that knocked the Buccaneers out of what would have been their second straight trip to the playoffs.
“It was rough the way it ended, losing three or four games,” Gruden said. “This was the first time in my life being on the front line of the firing squad after 11 years. I’ve just taken a couple days to unwind with my family. A lot of people have called, being very supportive. Some people have taken shots and I understand that not everyone likes or agrees with what I do as a coach.”
Gruden did lead the Bucs to their first and only Super Bowl appearence and victory, but since then he has a losing record as a head coach in Tampa Bay. Even with that, he said that he was proud of what he was able to do as coach of the Buccaneers.
“We won a Super Bowl,” he said. “I got a game ball for winning more games than any Bucs coach in history. I got a game ball for my 100th win [including playoff wins]. There are only six teams [actually seven] in the NFL that had back-to-back winning seasons the past two years and the Bucs were one of them. Again, it was tough the way it ended but we did some good things and I know some people who think we overachieved.”
Gruden will probably not be anywhere coaching in 2009 as far as the NFL goes, but once those openings start popping up, Gruden’s name will likely be high on a lot of coaching lists.