Keyshawn Johnson responds to Jon Gruden scandal: ‘He’s a fraud’

Keyshawn Johnson responds to Jon Gruden scandal: ‘He’s a fraud’

Longtime NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson explained why former Raiders coach Jon Gruden always seemed like a “fraud” to him. 

Leaked emails by former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden have sent shockwaves through the NFL. Rife with racist, sexist and homophobic content, the emails offer a revealing look into how some of the league’s most powerful men speak behind closed doors.

One man who once played for Gruden wasn’t exactly surprised by the revelation.

Former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who was a part of Gruden’s Super Bowl-winning Buccaneers team, said he always thought his former coach was a “fraud.”

Here’s what Johnson had to say about his impression of Gruden.

“I didn’t know that Jon would say things like that and put them in an email. He’s just always been a fraud to me. … From day one, he’s been a used car salesman. And people bought it because he inherited a championship team built by Tony Dungy and Rich McKay, and he came in there with a little bit of different energy than we had with Tony, and it kind of kicked us over the top to get our world championship — which I am grateful for. But at the same time I also saw through who he was through that journey of getting a championship.”

Keyshawn Johnson explains why Jon Gruden always seemed like a fraud to him

In 2002, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in flux. After losing in the wild card round for the second consecutive season, the Buccaneers fired head coach Tony Dungy and began a prolonged search to find a new leader.

General Manager Rich McKay supported Marvin Lewis, but he was ultimately overruled by ownership, who rejected the idea of another defensive-minded coach and took control of the candidate search. Instead, the Buccaneers paid a hefty price — two first-round draft picks, two second-round draft picks, and $8 million — to acquire Gruden from the Oakland Raiders.

Jon Gruden rewarded Tampa Bay immediately, leading it to the team’s first Super Bowl championship in his inaugural season as the Buccaneers’ head coach. But even then, not everyone was happy with Gruden.

“I was never Gruden’s guy. He never liked me. I told him I’d rather retire than play for him in 2004,” Johnson told ESPN in November 2003.

Initially, Gruden tried to deny claims of racism in his comments about NFLPA executive DeMaurice Smith, who was advocating on behalf of players during the 2011 NFL lockout when Gruden insulted him in an email.

The New York Times then exposed a trove of emails containing bigoted language insulting women, the Black and LGBTQ+ communities.

During the Week 5 Monday Night Football game between the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens, it was announced Gruden would be stepping down as the Raiders head coach.

“I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” Gruden said in a statement. “I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

Gruden was in his fourth season of a 10-year, $100 million contract.

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