Jon Gruden’s history runs deep with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and as his Las Vegas Raiders prepares to host his old team on Sunday night, so it is a natural topic of conversation when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday.
While Gruden — who was the Buccaneers’ coach from 2002-2008 after being traded from the Raiders — is not one for reminiscing, he did acknowledge a recent honor by the Buccaneers that helped spark his return to the Raiders.
In late December 2017, Gruden was inducted into Tampa Bay’s Ring of Honor and several of his former Buccaneers’ players feted Gruden, who led the team to a Super Bowl win over the Raiders in his first season there. Shortly after, Gruden was in talks with Raiders owner Mark Davis about a return and in early January 2018, he signed a 10-year, $100 million with the Raiders.
“Well, that makes me deep and tearful, really emotional,” Gruden said of the Tamp Bay honor. “That was a great night in my life. To share it with some of my former team and coaches was special. That’s what coaching is all about. You want to help players improve, on and off the field. Ultimately you want to help them win. But that had a lot to do with it. That certainly was a springboard for me in terms of how much I missed it.”
Now, though, it’s all about beating Tampa Bay — and Tom Brady — on Sunday.
“I’m just concentrating on this game, honestly,” Gruden said. “It’s a great opportunity for both teams to try to get another win. I try not to get too deep, too philosophical. I had a great time in Tampa. A lot of my best friends are still there and live there, so I’m looking forward to competing.”
Gruden was 57-55 with Tampa Bay in the regular season, and he is 52-49 with the Raiders.