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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Gruden calls first visit to One Buc in nearly three years 'emotional'



Jon Gruden described his return to One Buc Place Saturday as ‘emotional.’

For the first time since his firing nearly three years ago, Gruden visited the headquarters of the franchise he coached for seven seasons, this time as the star analyst of ESPN’s Monday Night Football.

Gruden watched practice and interviewed Bucs coach Raheem Morris, several members of his coaching staff and seven players, including quarterback Josh Freeman, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, running back LeGarrette Blount and cornerback Ronde Barber.

"It's great. I've got a lot of friends here,’’ Gruden said Saturday. “I love (Morris). I love Greg Olson. I've known Pat Morris a long time. Alex Van Pelt I coached at Pitt. I'm rooting for the Bucs, man. Selfishly. I love Donald Penn and Ronde Barber.

"First time in the building. I was fired up, to be honest with you, man. You get a little emotional.’’

Morris worked as a defensive backs coach under Gruden and was promoted to defensive coordinator in waiting on Christmas Eve, 2008. But a month later, Gruden was fired by the Bucs after seven seasons, three playoff appearances and a Super Bowl XXXVII title.

Morris said he was excited to see his former boss.

“Everybody wants to paint how our relationship should be,’’ Morris said. “But like I tell all my guys, I couldn’t have worked for a better guy, treated me nice, treated me good. He helped me develop my career. I was his assistant DBs coach, forget just his DB coach. So I couldn’t say enough positive things about how I was treated when he was here. He just handled everything, so that was great.

“We just shot the bull on the field. He just talked about what the defense looked like and he said, “if you’d been playing that when I was here, I might still be here.’ I said, “I don’t think it’s because of the defense, it’s because of that big guy over there, No. 5 (quarterback Josh Freeman).’ He’s just great to be around coach Gru.’’

Since Gruden is working this week in his hometown, he planned to host his ESPN broadcast partners Mike Tirico and Ron Jaworski for dinner and a college football viewing party. 

[Last modified: Saturday, October 1, 2011 3:13pm]


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