Keyshawn Johnson on Jon Gruden: 'He's Just Always Been a Fraud to Me'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVOctober 12, 2021

16 Oct 2003: Head coach Jon Gruden and Keyshawn Johnson of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the Bucs 16-0 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL.  (Photo by Bob Leverone/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)
Bob Leverone/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

Former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who played for Jon Gruden in 2002 and 2003 as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, called his former coach a "fraud."

Gruden announced his resignation as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday night after the New York Times reported on racist, anti-gay and misogynistic emails he'd sent dating back to 2011.

Johnson, who now co-hosts the ESPN show Keyshawn, JWill and Max, provided his take on the situation Tuesday:

Keyshawn, JWill & Max @KeyJayandMax

“He’s just always been a fraud to me…from day one he’s been a used car salesman and people bought it.”<a href="https://twitter.com/keyshawn?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@keyshawn</a> reacts to Jon Gruden’s resignation from the Raiders. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/KJM?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#KJM</a> <a href="https://t.co/iVu7vlJCjk">pic.twitter.com/iVu7vlJCjk</a>

The three-time Pro Bowl receiver and Gruden had a falling-out during the 2003 season, which led the Bucs to deactivate him for the final six games of the campaign and bar him from the team's training facility.

Johnson explained his side of the story to ESPN's Shelley Smith in November 2003:

"Honestly, I'm very disappointed because I really wanted to win another championship with this team. I was never Gruden's guy. He never liked me. I told him I'd rather retire than play for him in 2004. But I also told him I wouldn't be a distraction, I wouldn't go to the media with it and I didn't. I don't know why they released me. I was playing hard, I wasn't dogging it. Tell everyone I'm in New York looking for apartments."

Johnson was traded to the Dallas Cowboys that offseason. Gruden, who guided the Bucs to a Super Bowl title at the end of the 2002 season, remained in Tampa through 2008.

The emails sent by Gruden that were revealed in recent days came while he was working as the color commentator for ESPN's Monday Night Football and hosting specials on the network, such as the Gruden's QB Camp show that saw him interview and analyze the top quarterbacks in each year's draft class.

"The comments are clearly repugnant under any circumstance," ESPN said in a statement.

Gruden, 58, returned to coaching with the Raiders in 2018. His first head coaching job came with the organization from 1998 through 2001.

His coaching career dates back to 1986, when he started out as a graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee.

Las Vegas promoted special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia to interim head coach following Gruden's resignation.

The Raiders' season resumes Sunday when they visit the Denver Broncos in Week 6.


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