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King: 'If (Gruden's) not the center of attention, that's a problem'

  • By Marc Sessler NFL.com
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Chucky isn't going to like this.

Jon Gruden delivered Tampa Bay its first Super Bowl victory back in January 2003, but two of his former players suggest the fiery coach did so while alienating the Buccaneers' ranks.

Former Pro Bowl wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson clearly had issues playing for Gruden, telling an ESPN audience last month that "it was just something about the way I was being coached, talked to, dealt with."

Granted, that's from a gentleman who spent most of his career known around town as "Meshawn," and not for his charitable work. Then again, he's not the only former Buc to air his dirty laundry.

Shaun King, who played quarterback in Tampa Bay from 1999 to 2003, claims Gruden had that effect on others and called him "inherently dishonest."

"As much excitement as Jon Gruden created when he was hired here, as much enthusiasm surrounded him coming here and helping us win a Super Bowl, I think, when you look back on it, it's pretty obvious he wasn't a guy that a lot of his players were endeared to after being around him for an extended period of time," King told WQYK-AM, via ProFootballTalk and JoeBucsFan.com.


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"I'm not sure it still exists, but Jon has a major character flaw in that, if he's not the center of attention, that's a problem. It is what it is. Ala the 'Chucky face.' You look at the NFL Films, it's just ironic, anytime that he's mic'd up or filmed, the 'Chucky face,' you know, it's showcased a lot more than normal."

Gruden's name still is thrown around with Bill Cowher's at the top of wish lists whenever head-coaching vacancies arise. Love him or hate him, he's one of those coaches who can bring immediate attention and relevance to a struggling franchise, and -- if he chooses to return to the game -- he'd likely have his pick of available jobs, despite the complaints of assorted former players.

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