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Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden says he didn't have it bad in Oakland

TAMPA — When Jon Gruden thinks back on his four seasons guiding the Raiders, the memories don't reflect any of the awkwardness of his 11th-hour departure in 2002 to coach the Bucs.

In fact, Gruden says his experience in Oakland working for owner Al Davis was positive — contrary to popular opinion.

"We had a lot of good players, and a lot of people perceive me to not have had a great experience there," said Gruden, whose team closes out the regular season against the Raiders at 1 p.m. Sunday. "I had a great experience there, and we won 40 games or so … in four years. (I had) a chance to run out there with Rich Gannon and Jerry Rice and Tim Brown and got to know Lester Hayes and hang out with Jim Plunkett and Ted Hendricks.

"And I still have a lot of respect for Al Davis. I learned a lot there. And their tradition, whether you want to admit it or not, is rare. They have really quite a tradition there, and I was fortunate to be a part of it."

The Bucs put a dent in that tradition with a 48-21 victory over the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII, capping Gruden's first season coaching the Bucs. The teams last met in 2004 in Oakland, where Kerry Collins engineered a 30-20 victory over Tampa Bay.

But the Raiders (5-1 overall against Tampa Bay in the regular season) have not had a winning season since their Super Bowl loss to the Bucs and enter Sunday at 4-11. Meanwhile, the Bucs need a win, coupled with a Philadelphia victory over Dallas, to qualify as a wild-card team.

Asked this week what has happened to the Raiders, Gruden said, "I don't know. Again, they've had a lot of change there at different positions, and I can't really comment on it. I haven't been that close to the situation. But knowing them out there like I do, they'll be back."

Brooks hurting: LB Derrick Brooks, limited all last week with bruised ribs, was held out of practice for a second consecutive day Thursday with a hamstring injury. Today's workout is the final practice of the week.

Brooks was able to play last week after missing Wednesday and Thursday practices. He has never missed a game because of injury, playing in 223 straight. Brooks has started 220 straight games, second most among active players behind Jets QB Brett Favre.

Times staff writers Stephen F. Holder and Rick Stroud contributed to this report.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden says he didn't have it bad in Oakland 12/25/08 [Last modified: Friday, December 26, 2008 8:51pm]
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