Jeff Garcia: Bucs "needed the change"
Asked Wednesday about the firing of coach Jon Gruden, QB Jeff Garcia said the team "needed the change" and said he believes Gruden's poor relationships with players played a key role in his dismissal.
Garcia had a long-running feud with Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen stemming from the team's courtship of Brett Favre in the preseason and its reluctance to renegotiate his contract last summer.
"I know for me personally, going through that with him was a very difficult time, disappointing time," Garcia said according to WTSP-Ch. 10. "But the one thing that I always tried to look back on or reflect on was that I wasn't the first and I won't be the last. If it continues to be this way with players, it is going to get to a point where somebody who is above or in control will say 'Enough is enough.' I think that's what it got to.
"There are players who were here in the past before I got here who had their own experiences of how they were treated or how they were misled. For the two years that I was here, I enjoyed my experiences on the field with coach Gruden but there were some things that obviously rubbed me wrong and I'm sure they were not easy to deal with. But I'm just one guy. Whatever the reason was that they made the change, they felt it was time to make the change."
Garcia becomes at least the second player to make such remarks about Gruden's handling of players. WR Michael Clayton offered similar sentiments hours after Gruden's firing on Friday.
Garcia also suggested Gruden should share in the blame for the team's late-season collapse.
"Statistics don't lie," he said. "When you look at how the team played in December, when you don't finish strong like you need to finish, and especially when you're in a playoff hunt like we were this year, we have to be accountable as players. But everybody has to take responsibility. With Jon being the head coach, the head guy here a number of years, and having different players come in and out and yet the end of the season not really changing as far as how the team is finishing . . . then that's something that needs to be focused on. And you need to find answers. And if the answer was changing the head coach and changing up the staff a little bit, then that's what they had to do."
Garcia, a free agent, said of his potential return, "I am open to listening if they want to talk. That's what it's basically going to come down to. It's really not in my court. The ball's not in my court – it's in theirs."