Warren Sapp discredits Jon Gruden’s influence on Buccaneers’ defense
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl 37 back in 2002, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden received much of the credit. Gruden had coached the Raiders for four years prior to beating them, and many felt that his knowledge of his former team allowed Tampa Bay to dominate them in the championship. Not surprisingly, Warren Sapp disagrees.
During an interview with “The Dan Patrick Show” on Tuesday, Sapp was asked how much the Bucs benefitted from Gruden coaching against his former team in 2002. Sapp basically said it didn’t help at all.
“Say you and your 11 brothers are all on the same coaching staff, and one of your brothers leaves and goes to another team,” Sapp said. “Who knows more about beating each other? That one (guy) about the other 11 or the 11 (guys) about the other one (who left)?”
In other words, Sapp feels that the Raiders should have known more about Gruden than he knew about them. The Hall of Fame defensive tackle also pointed out how the Bucs defense gave up 16.2 points per game from 1996 through 2001 — before Gruden became the head coach in Tampa Bay.
There has even been talk of Oakland intentionally throwing the game against Tampa Bay because of Bill Callahan’s relationship with Gruden, but naturally Sapp didn’t want to hear any of that.
“Who was on defense that was gonna stop us on the Raiders other than Charles Woodson?” Sapp asked. “The thing that (Gruden) helped us with is now our offense was accountable for every snap we took. There was no more three yards and a cloud of dust. This man was such an offensive nut. He’d say, ‘We’re gonna go up and down the field,’ and we’d look at him and laugh.”
Led by guys like Sapp, Derrick Brooks and Simeon Rice, that Bucs defense was one of the best in NFL history. There is no denying that, but you have to wonder if Gruden’s relationship with or knowledge of the Raiders came into play at all. Sapp wants us to believe it didn’t help Tampa Bay in any way, but I find that hard to believe.