Buccaneers: Swift action is telling on Jon Gruden and Ring of Honor

Jon Gruden, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Jon Gruden, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) /

The Buccaneers didn’t waste any time on removing Jon Gruden from the Ring of Honor.

The NFL world was rocked over the past few days as an investigation into the past actions of the Washington Football Team is bringing emails between Jon Gruden and several other high-profile members of the sport to light. Gruden hasn’t been with the Buccaneers for over a decade now, but the ripples of this event still have an impact in Tampa.

Gruden resigned shortly after the emails were leaked, and the Buccaneers acted quickly to remove their first member from the Ring of Honor.

This move shocked some fans who saw their team come to greatness for the first time under Gruden, but the swift action by the franchise to strike him from their most prestigious group sheds plenty of light on the situation.

First and foremost, and this will be the toughest pill for some fans to swallow, Gruden did nothing outside of one season to earn a spot in the Ring of Honor. Yes, he came to Tampa during their first Super Bowl win in franchise history, but when that happens for a coach, is that due to their abilities as a coach or the situation they entered?

Gruden joined a team that was built by Tony Dungy, Sam Wyche, and Monte Kiffin. Kiffin arguably did more during the Super Bowl season with the defense than Gruden did with the offense.

Jon Gruden was the noticeable difference between losing in the first round of the playoffs versus winning the whole thing, but let’s not overblow what he accomplished. If Gruden were as good as some fans persist, the Bucs wouldn’t have largely fallen off after that Super Bowl season, and the Raiders wouldn’t have struggled so much when Gruden returned to the game a decade later.

Gruden’s offense has never been flashy, he is a terrible draft evaluator, as evidenced by his recent time with the Raiders and during his last years in Tampa, and it is clear that he was in the Ring of Honor based on that one important win.

Winning a Super Bowl, especially the first one in franchise history, is very important, but Gruden’s play-calling was far from the x-factor on any team.

With an already-shaky foundation on his entrance to the ROH, the recent emails put the Buccaneers in a position where they had little choice in the matter.

When you build a team as Bruce Arians did, one that features people of many different races and sexual orientations across the franchise, leaving Gruden’s name in the rafters as a reminder of this situation counters the core values of this team.

Some fans may point to players employed by the Buccaneers that have committed crimes yet still have roster spots as a counterpoint. This is a valid argument to make; however, this is not where the Gruden fiasco ends.

While Bucs fans can (and will) argue over this decision, the comments made by Gruden towards Bryan Glazer ended in this obvious change. Why would the Glazer family leave the name of the man who insulted one of them enshrined in the stadium? Would any business want to leave the name of former employees in a spot of honor in their building after comments such as this come out, even years after the fact?

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, the Glazers leaving Gruden’s name in the Ring of Honor for the team they own after these specific comments about a member of their family would only serve as a reminder of an insult, not of the Super Bowl win.

Gruden wasn’t a bad coach, no one is trying to rewrite history, but by that same token, fans shouldn’t exalt him as the best coach in franchise history when Bruce Arians did the same exact thing, other than joining a team that was arguably worse in year one than Gruden did.

In the end, this boils down to one factor: Gruden is free to say anything he wants behind closed doors, but when those doors get blown down, as is the case in the era of modern technology, no one is free of the consequences those words may bring.

“Cancelled” is a word that is being thrown around a lot regarding this situation with the Bucs, but in reality, this boils down to a small aesthetic change in Raymond James Stadium. No one is trying to take away the Super Bowl, which the players and Gruden rightfully earned.

The history that team made isn’t going away. One name in the stands, which is arguably the least impressive of the bunch, is the only change that any Bucs fans will experience as a result of this situation.

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