Even after the content of Jon Gruden’s racist, homophobic and misogynistic emails became public on Friday – and again on Monday – the former Raiders coach still had strong, vocal backing. His former broadcast partner Mike Tirico came to his defense, as did Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy and Hall of Fame catcher Tim Brown, among others.
However, not everyone rushed to defend Gruden. Notably, wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson – who made the Pro Bowl and won a Super Bowl under Gruden with the Buccaneers in 2001 and 2002, respectively – blew up his former coach.
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Johnson – in a segment of his ESPN show “Keyshawn, JWill & Max” – tore Gruden apart, saying the emails and their content didn’t surprise him. Johnson also went into great detail about how his outspokenness led others to make him a scapegoat and a villain during his four years at Tampa Bay.
“My focus isn’t just on speaking badly about a black man, you also speak badly about people who own teams, run the league, the league commissioner – because he’s a bad person,” Johnson noted. “I tried telling people when I played for this man, but I was wrong. ‘Oh, Keyshawn just a spoiled brat.’ Oh, Keyshawn just a diva. Oh, Keyshawn just wants football. But here we are now, how many years later, and things come to the surface, I’m not just going to let it go because I was the bad guy.
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Johnson continued to criticize Gruden, questioning his character and how much Tampa Bay’s 2002 Super Bowl victory should be attributed to his training.
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“He’s always been an impostor to me. From day one he’s been a used car salesman and people bought him because he inherited a championship team built by Tony Dungy and Rich McKay Johnson said.
“He came in with a little different energy than we had with Tony and that gave us a boost to get our world championship, which I’m grateful for. But at the same time, I also saw who he was through that journey to get a championship. “
During his four seasons at Tampa Bay, Johnson had 298 catches for 3,828 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also recorded two receiving seasons of over 1,000 yards under Gruden.