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Jon Gruden says he can’t control speculation he will return to coaching, hoping Bucs finish strong

The former Super Bowl winning coach of the Bucs was back in Tampa Friday coaching football to military personnel at MacDill AFB and shooting down 'Grumors'
DIRK SHADD   |   Times  
Jon Gruden (center), ESPN Monday Night Football analyst and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl champion head coach, shakes hands with Herbert Hudson III, as they talk while walking off the field together along with Robert Jones Jr. (left) after Gruden conducted a practice with more than 30 military personnel from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa on Friday (12/8/17). Gruden's practice included a walk through, running plays and even a two minute drill. "I'm emotional when it comes to what these guys are giving us, the sacrifice and all the effort they put in behind the scenes," Gruden said. "We just want to show our appreciation from Monday Night Football."
DIRK SHADD | Times Jon Gruden (center), ESPN Monday Night Football analyst and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl champion head coach, shakes hands with Herbert Hudson III, as they talk while walking off the field together along with Robert Jones Jr. (left) after Gruden conducted a practice with more than 30 military personnel from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa on Friday (12/8/17). Gruden's practice included a walk through, running plays and even a two minute drill. "I'm emotional when it comes to what these guys are giving us, the sacrifice and all the effort they put in behind the scenes," Gruden said. "We just want to show our appreciation from Monday Night Football."
Published Dec. 8, 2017

Former Bucs Super Bowl winning coach Jon Gruden spent the morning at MacDill Air Force base putting military personnel through a series of football drills and practice.

The star of ESPN's Monday Night Football will be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor at halftime of the Dec. 18 game against the Atlanta Falcons that he is broadcasting.

Speculation always surrounds Gruden whenever there is an opening in college or pro football and this year the "Grumors" have been focused about him returning to the Bucs should they part with head coach Dirk Koetter, who is in the midst of a disappointing 4-8 season.

While not ever ruling out a return to the sidelines, Gruden has never said he is ready to coach again.

"Well, you know, I don't have anything to say about it really,'' Gruden said the speculation. "I've got a job I'm trying to hang onto. But there's a lot of games left in the NFL  You know, I love football, I love what I'm doing and I can't control all the reports, I really can't.''

However, there is no secret to how Gruden feels about Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.

"I think he's outstanding. I think he's a tremendous talent,'' Gruden said. "I think he's proven that. The only thing he hasn't done is win. I think he will win. Sometimes you've got to be a little patient. Sometimes you got to be more patient than you want to be but I believe the man has a lot of talent and I believe he's going to be a great quarterback. He's just getting started.''

But Gruden had no theories as to why the Bucs haven't won more games this season given the big expectations surrounding the team in the preseason.

"That's preseason talk and that means nothing,'' Gruden said. "Certain things happen. I haven't really studied Tampa as hard as I will next week when we get ready for the game, but they've had some injuries on defense, they've had some injuries on the offensive line.

"Doug Martin has been here and there. The quarterback's been hurt. Should I continue? They played a tougher schedule this year than last year. They've lost some close games and they missed some field goals. I was at the New England game. Before you start finding people guilty of not succeeding, the reality is they are eight or nine plays away from being 8-4.  And some teams they handle adversity better than others. Hopefully, the Bucs finish strong."

Meanwhile, Gruden said he still can't believe his name will adorn the stadium with all the Bucs greats.

"You know I still don't really believe it's going to happen,'' Gruden said. "I grew up with this franchise. People that don't know my dad was here in the early 80's. He drafted Bo Jackson and Steve Young. I grew up with Doug Williams and James Wilder and Jimmie Giles and all those guys' names up in the rafters. My dad worked for John McKay. So it will be an emotional time for me. It will be great to see the guys. It will be great to be in the stadium again. A lot of great memories.''

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