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Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans not shedding many tears over coach Jon Gruden's exit

TAMPA — A quick sampling of public opinion found little love lost between coach Jon Gruden and Bucs fans before he got the ax Friday evening.

Though there were no celebrations in the streets, quite a few fans said the Glazer family had taken a step in the right direction.

"It was time for him to go," Shelby Watts, 53, a Tampa native, said while at a McDonald's on West Kennedy Boulevard. "His time was up."

Watts said Gruden, who came over from Oakland before the 2002 season, was not personable enough for such a public job, and that his abrasiveness cost the team more than a few good players. "The way he clashed with the veteran players, he just didn't have the right attitude for that."

James Keegan, 48, a cook from South Tampa, said that it was also a good move to fire general manager Bruce Allen, who came over from the Raiders in 2004. "They were together on a lot of things and they got rid of the guys from the championship team."

At the Press Box, a popular South Tampa sports bar, the sentiment was much the same.

"I think it was good," said Chantelle Longval, 39, a buyer from South Tampa. "I just can't believe the Glazers did it."

She said she hopes the owners will replace Gruden with someone who has a background as an offensive coordinator and will be more supportive of those players.

"I think that's what they really need," she said.

Kenny Sullivan, 40, a pressman and longtime Bucs fan, was more blunt.

"When it came down to it he couldn't win the big games," Sullivan said. "At every press conference after the game he's answering all the questions with some smart remark. His attitude was unbelievable."

But a few folks didn't have so much enmity for the man who coached their home team to a Super Bowl victory.

"Why did they fire him? What position did he play?" James McMaster, 38, a crane mechanic from Brandon, asked sarcastically.

McMaster and his friend Robby Smith, 35, of Zephyrhills were at the Winghouse Restaurant in Temple Terrace when they heard the news.

"It's not his fault. He can only direct the players on the field. He can't get out there and do it himself," McMaster said.

Smith said he also thought the losses were more team-related.

Brooks-Debartolo Collegiate High student Dominique Edwards was caught somewhere in the middle as she was heading home from her shift at McDonald's in South Tampa.

"I think it was a bit unprofessional the way they did it," the 17-year-old senior said. "But it was a good move for the team. They should have fired him last year when the team was suffering rather than now when we've had a solid season."

Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at [email protected]

Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans not shedding many tears over coach Jon Gruden's exit 01/16/09 [Last modified: Friday, January 16, 2009 11:10pm]
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