It seems like everyone has had their say on Jon Gruden's firing: The Fans, The Players, and fellow Coaches. You knew it was only a matter of time before Gruden himself spoke up about the way he was fired:
"It was rough the way it ended, losing three or four games," said Gruden. "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. 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." - ESPN.com
Regardless of the end result Gruden was proud of his accomplishments while in Tampa (as he should be):
"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." - ESPN.com
Is Gruden making excuses?
"The reality is we came in with a bad salary cap situation and we left with some $50 million under the cap, so it's not like we went out and spent a lot of money on players. I really only had one young guy to work with in Chris Simms," said Gruden. "I'd love a shot to coach some young college guys. Look, you know me. I'm an addict. I love to coach." - ESPN.com
For those of you worried, Gruden will be back (not in Tampa silly):
"Chucky will be back and hopefully my teeth will be as sharp as ever." - ESPN.com
That final quote is what I love about Gruden, he's so damn fiery even when he's been kicked in the nads. I take issue with him clinging to the notion that he and Allen didnt spend money, really, that's why you failed to make the Playoffs this season. He was absolutely married to Bruce Allen. Sure Allen got us out of salary cap hell, but where was this team honestly going to go? You can't spend money you don't have. The problem was the money they did spend was on band aids and old washed up veteran players.
The other thing that peeves me was the grooming the young QB's comment. What? Who was that Bruce Gradkowski character? You failed at grooming two young Quarterbacks, essentially three if you count Luke McCown and the seven games he played in while in Tampa for four years. He got here when he was 23, come on now. I was surprised that you got fired when you did considering the extension. It appeared you had a leash with the Josh Johnson drafting and that you would get your shot grooming him. That was not to be and I can't fault the Glazers. Who was excited about next season? Nobody. The players quit on you and that was the final straw. People point to Kiffin announcing his departure and the four consecutive losses as coincidence and there's credence there, but this team failed and the Head Coach has to answer to that.
I wish Gruden the best. He brought this franchise a Super Bowl Championship and for that I will forever be grateful. You can say he won with Dungy's team, but Dungy couldnt win with Dungy's team. Good luck Chucky. I know you will coach in this league again. Just dial it back a little in how you communicate with your players. It's one thing to have the town idiot cry wolf (Simeon Rice), but to have player after player come out and say the team needed a change, well, that about says it all....