Jon Gruden‘s firing as the Buccaneers’ head coach last week came as a surprise to those around the league. Gruden has a statue in the team’s training facility, for crying out loud — to honor Tampa Bay’s victory over the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. So the firing, despite the team’s December collapse, seemed like a surprise. Unless you played for him, of course.
QB Jeff Garcia was one Bucs player who said a change needed to be made. Garcia opened up on his relationship with Gruden to the St. Petersburg Times.
- Garcia, addressing last week’s firing of Jon Gruden, said the Bucs “needed the change” and believes the coach’s poor relationship with players played a key role in his dismissal.
- The quarterback had a long-running feud with Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen stemming from the team’s preseason courtship with Brett Favre and its reluctance to renegotiate his contract last summer. And it was long believed Garcia’s two-year relationship with Gruden had deteriorated.
- “I know for me, personally, going through that with him was a very difficult time, disappointing time … But the one thing that I always tried to look back on or reflect on was that I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last. If it continues to be this way with players, it is going to get to a point where somebody who is above or in control will say, ‘Enough is enough.’ I think that’s what it got to.”
- “Cause definitely, in the locker room there was definitely some separation in there,” Graham said. “Definitely some guys had their issues. If you don’t have all guys on the same page in this league, you’re gonna find out on the field, It’s going to show up.”
- “He’s got our love, man. Lot of guys in the locker room love (him). He speaks to us on the regular during team meetings, times when we’re down, he gives a speech and he’s always around, an animated guy, liked real well, does real well with the guys. Everybody was rooting for him.”