JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Veteran defensive tackle Grady Jackson had little regard for Bobby Petrino earlier this season.
He has even less now.
Jackson, surprisingly cut by Petrino in October and signed by Jacksonville a week later, called the former Atlanta Falcons coach a quitter and a coward.
"It's just bad he quit like that," Jackson said Wednesday, a day after Petrino resigned and returned to the college ranks at Arkansas. "That's a sad thing. For him to quit like that, it just shows his true color, like a coward with a yellow stripe down his back. That's how I look at it."
Jackson was one of the Falcons' most productive defensive linemen early in the season. But Petrino cut him without warning during the team's bye week, a move his former teammates openly criticized.
Petrino never gave Jackson a reason for his release, so it didn't surprise the 345-pound run-stopper that the coach left on Tuesday without saying a word to his players.
"Not to address your team, that's real bad," Jackson said. "That's the coward way out. That's like saying you're a coward, you're not man enough to stand up in front of your players or your organization and say you're fixing to go somewhere else. Not to finish the season out, that means he's a quitter, right? He's a quitter.
"He probably didn't want the job anyway. He was probably waiting for a better job to come along, a college job. He wanted out of Louisville."
Petrino left Louisville for Atlanta in January, agreeing to a five-year, $24 million contract with the Falcons.
But he had one of the shortest coaching tenure's since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, leaving after 13 games, a 3-10 record and an uncertain future following quarterback Michael Vick's 23-month prison sentence.
Jackson said Petrino never figured out how to deal with NFL players.
"He's not a people person; he's not friendly," Jackson said. "The motivational speeches he gives during the game, it's like, 'Where's this going?' He doesn't motivate you. ... He was (accustomed to) dealing with kids in college. Now, he's dealing with grown men. That was the big thing right there."
Jackson fielded countless calls and text messages from former teammates Tuesday night, most of them angry over the way Petrino left.
"I wasn't surprised," Jackson said. "I figured he wasn't going to last that long anyway."
Jackson said several teammates saw it coming, too, including tight end Alge Crumpler, cornerback DeAngelo Hall and running back Warrick Dunn.
All of them, including Jackson, questioned Petrino's coaching style and decisions. They're hardly alone, either.
"A million other people are on it now -- the city of Atlanta," Jackson said.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press