1. Bucs

Oakland Raiders-Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Evaluating the greatest trade in Tampa Bay sports history

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden raises the Superbowl trophy as he is introduced at halftime, for the 10th anniversary of the game. GAME SUMMARY: The Philadelphia Eagles play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. The Philadelphia Eagles won 23-21. [DANIEL WALLACE, Times]
Published Oct. 28, 2016

The greatest trade in the history of Tampa Bay sports didn't involve one single player.

Monday, Feb. 18, 2002. The Tampa Bay Bucs traded two first-round draft picks, two second-rounders and $8 million to Oakland to get coach Jon Gruden.

In the short term, the deal was a winner for both teams as Gruden got both teams to the next Super Bowl. In the first season after the trade, Gruden's new team beat his old team soundly in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Gruden scorched the earth behind him in both places.

These days, Chucky heads up his famed Fired Football Coaches of America and is one of the biggest names in football as the larger-than-life analyst of Monday Night Football and self-proclaimed Quarterback Whisperer.

Meantime, the Raiders and Bucs meet this Sunday at Raymond James Stadium with both teams starting to take baby steps to regain their glory days. It has been tough sledding since Gruden departed both franchises.

And that begs the question:

Would you do the trade again?

Depends on which franchise we're talking about.

If you're the Raiders, probably not. Since that Bucs-Raiders Super Bowl in January of 2003, the Raiders not only haven't made the playoffs, they haven't had a winning record. In the past 13 seasons, the Raiders, who did very little with all those picks, have had nine coaches and a 63-146 record. Losing Gruden was the beginning of the end. The Raiders' 5-2 start this season is the first sign of hope in more than a decade.

Oh, and there's this: the Raiders might move to Las Vegas.

Think the Raiders would want a mulligan on Gruden? You bet. They didn't even get a Super Bowl trophy out of it.

What about the Bucs?

Since that Super Bowl victory, the Bucs have made the playoffs twice — both under Gruden. They haven't won a playoff game and haven't even made the postseason since 2007. They are on their fourth coach since Gruden was fired after the 2008 season.

So, considering all that, you think the Bucs will still do the Gruden trade?

Every day and twice on Super Bowl Sunday.

Regardless of what Gruden left behind and the state of the franchise for the past six or seven years, there's one reason why the trade was absolutely worth it: that big silver Lombardi Trophy sitting in the glass case at One Buc Place.

Championships. That's what matters. That's all that matters.

While every team would love to be a dynasty like the Patriots or even a consistent winner such as the Steelers, Seahawks or Packers, the reality is the league is cyclical and there is but one goal: win the Super Bowl.

What is better? To have a good team for 10 years but never win a Super Bowl? Or be mediocre to lousy for nine years, but then win a Super Bowl? Would you rather be the old Bills, losers of four consecutive Super Bowls? Or would you rather be the Bucs, who at least had a championship parade?

For a franchise that might have been the sorriest in sports for darn near 25 years, nothing could ever be better than a Super Bowl. No matter what it took. No matter what happened after.

Know what else the famous Gruden trade did?

It gave us the best bar-stool discussion in the history of Tampa Bay sports:

Gruden or Tony Dungy?

Did Gruden win the Super Bowl or did he win it with "Dungy's players?''

It's an argument that never will be settled. Maybe they both were responsible.

But this much is an absolute fact:

The Bucs had never won a Super Bowl. Dungy was fired. The Bucs tried to get Bill Parcells. They flirted with Marvin Lewis and Steve Mariucci and then gave up the farm to get Gruden. Less than a year later, they won a Super Bowl. Jon Gruden was the coach.

That makes the trade — the one that involved no players — the greatest trade in Tampa Bay sports history.


  1. Ronde Barber returns an interception for a touchdown that clinched the Bucs' 27-10 win over Philadelphia in the 2002 NFC Championship game. The play sent the Bucs to Super Bowl 37 in San Diego. JASON BEHNKEN  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Bucs Ring of Honor ceremony 2019: Ronde Barber always had an edge — real or imagined — and it made the Buccaneers defensive back one of the greatest of all time.
  2. In this Sept. 15 file photo, New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown (17) on the sidelines,during the first half against the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots released Brown on Friday. LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP
    New England had signed Brown this month hours after he was released by Oakland.
  3. New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) breaks away for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger) ADAM HUNGER  |  AP
    Coaching staff presents Bucs a Saquon highlight reel in an effort to prevent a sequel from the running back.
  4. Running back Peyton Barber has 31 carries this season, the 11th most over the first two weeks of the NFL season. Is that what's best for the Bucs offense? MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    In this preview: Why the Giants would have been better off the past four seasons with Jameis Winston instead of Eli Manning. Plus, how the G-Men will attack the Bucs defense and why you should keep an...
  5. It's early, but Jameis Winston (3) and the Bucs defense has Tampa Bay in first place in the NFC South. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco) BRIAN BLANCO  |  AP
    Martin Fennelly: That 1-1 start feels a little ragged, but things are breaking right so far for the Bucs.
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White (45) takes the field for warm ups before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the San Francisco 49ers at Raymond James Stadium on September 8, 2019 in Tampa, Florida.  MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Rookie inside linebacker didn’t practice all week.
  7. Bucs running back Peyton Barber will be key in helping Tampa Bay elevate its struggling defense. MIKE MCCARN  |  AP
    New York enters with quarterback Daniel Jones starting his first NFL game
  8. Tim Tebow. [Associated Press)] Associated Press
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Tom Jones and Rick Stroud debate Tebow, Dickie V, the first-place Bucs and the Rays playoff chase
  9. Paul Spicer, left, is now a defensive line coach at the University of South Florida. Skyler Fulton, right, is now a wide receivers coach at Portland State University. University of South Florida | Portland State University
    Former Bucs assistants Paul Spicer and Skyler Fulton faced accusations of violence against women before coaching in Tampa Bay under Dirk Koetter, according to a USA Today investigation.
  10. Kevin Minter played linebacker for Todd Bowles in Arizona, was released by Bowles last year when Bowles coached the Jets and is starting Sunday for the Bucs' defensive coordinator when Tampa Bay plays host to the New York Giants. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    When rookie linebacker Devin White went down, the Bucs turned to a player who keeps showing up in Todd Bowles’ defenses.