Coach Jon Gruden has faced his former Raiders team with a Super Bowl on the line, but Sunday night's game at Network Associates Coliseum will mark the first time he stands on the opposite sideline at the Black Hole.
"I'm sure I'll get booed like hell," Gruden said.
Raiders fans are among the most hostile, not to mention scary, in the NFL. Several dress as bikers, as well as Darth Vader and other evil Hollywood characters.
Gruden, who coached Oakland from 1998-2001, used to be on good terms with the Raider Nation, but there's no telling what sort of reception he'll get with the Bucs.
"I don't worry about it," he said. "I've got a lot of friends who will be sitting in the stands, the Terminator and the Ax Grinder, whatever those guys' names were. Those are guys I had a relationship with. Hopefully, they don't forget that."
Gruden became the NFL's youngest head coach at 34 when Raiders owner Al Davis hired him. Four years later, the relationship soured and Davis traded Gruden to the Bucs for two first-round and two second-round draft picks and $8-million. The next season, Gruden led Tampa Bay to victory against the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Gruden always will be grateful for his first job as an NFL head coach.
"Those were four really good years for me. I was given an opportunity and for that I'm very thankful," Gruden said. "I did the best I could and I made a lot of friends in the process, maybe a few enemies. But you do what you've got to do to get the job done and I'm always going to be thankful for that situation."
INSIDE HELP: Safety Dwight Smith said Wednesday the Bucs should use inside information from former Raider receiver Tim Brown, and he expects the Raiders to do the same with defensive tackle Warren Sapp. "He's a guy who knows everything about our offense and defense," he said. "He's probably over there giving them some tips."
RECEIVER NEEDS: The holdout of Keenan McCardell along with the injuries to Joe Jurevicius and Joey Galloway has placed some expectations on a receiving corps that includes Brown, journeyman Bill Schroeder, rookie Michael Clayton and unproven talents Charles Lee and Frank Murphy.
General manager Bruce Allen said he isn't concerned about their production.
"I think the position is producing," Allen said. "In the first game, Joey has an opportunity for a touchdown. Losing a person of that particular skill is affecting us right now. Charles Lee had an opportunity and he made a big play for us. I'm not going to take eight quarters of football and talk about a whole season. It's a little premature."
PRACTICE SQUAD MOVES: South Florida receiver DeAndrew Rubin and running back Ian Smart were signed to the practice squad. To make room, the team released fullback Casey Moore and receiver Huey Whitaker.
Rubin was a seventh-round pick of the Packers in 2003 and was recently with the Colts. At USF, Rubin played in 42 games with 18 starts. He caught 91 passes for 1,306 yards and 14 TDs. The former Dixie Hollins High standout also averaged 16.4 yards on punt returns and 26.0 yards on kickoff returns. He had five career return touchdowns (four punt, one kickoff).
Smart was an undrafted free agent with the Jets in 2003. He played collegiately at C.W. Post on Long Island, where he scored 95 touchdowns and 570 points, NCAA records.
STAT SACKED: Three days later, the Bucs were credited with an additional sack against the Seahawks, courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau. The official statisticians for the NFL notified the team that a rushing attempt for minus-2 yards by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck should have been a sack by safety Jermaine Phillips, giving the Bucs five. It is Phillips' first career sack.
INJURY UPDATE: Galloway (groin) is out and tight end Dave Moore (elbow) is probable.
_ JOANNE KORTH, ROGER MILLS, Times staff writers