You know who’s really running this Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise? Al Davis. Think about it: In 2002, the owner of the NFL’s west coast band of nautical villains basically shipped rising young head coach Jon Gruden to Malcolm Glazer (owner of the NFL’s east coast band of nautical villains), in exchange for a bounty of draft picks and cash. With his Tony Dungy-built team, Gruden immediately delivered a Super Bowl title, fully erasing this organization’s long-held shabby image.
But Davis’s impact doesn’t stop there. On October 1, 2008, the AFL pioneer held a rambling press conference in which he announced the firing of Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin. On November 28, it was reported that the University of Tennessee hired Kiffin to replace longtime head coach Phillip Fulmer. The Buccaneers were 8-3 at the time. Two days later, they improved to 9-3 after a hard-fought victory against New Orleans. But on that same day, rumors erupted that 13-year defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, a staple of the Bucs franchise, would be following his son to Tennessee.
Kiffin dismissed the rumors as mere “speculation”. But they weren’t. The distraction of losing the backbone to the team’s famed Tampa Two defense rocked the locker room––particularly its heart and soul, Derrick Brooks. Longtime Buc Warren Sapp, who still keeps in close contact with Brooks, said after the season, “Once I knew (Brooks) was upset, it had to filter down because that’s the way this place is always built.”
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