How Gruden prepared Bucs to blow out Raiders in Super Bowl

Jon Gruden
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  • Programming note: On the latest episode of NBC Sports' Sports Uncovered podcast, Michelle Tafoya dives deep into Raiders coach Jon Gruden, tracing his journey from the sidelines to the broadcast booth and back to the Silver and Black.

The story of Super Bowl XXXVII has been well-documented, from Barrett Robbins' mysterious disappearance all the way through the beat down Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers handed the Raiders to lift the Lombardi Trophy.

The Raiders were banged up entering the week. Then, coach Bill Callahan changed the game plan at the last minute and Robbins went AWOL. Some, like Raiders legend Tim Brown, have accused Callahan of throwing the game in order to give his old boss the last laugh over the Silver and Black. Brown also has said he believes the Bucs knew what plays were coming.

Maybe they did and maybe they didn't. But Gruden's in-depth knowledge of the Raiders' personnel was undoubtedly the determining factor in the Chucky Bowl blowout.

"What Jon did was he gave a scouting report of all their personalities on offense," Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks told Michelle Tafoya in the latest episode of "Sports Uncovered." "So he played scenarios out for us and by him running plays in practice, there was the closest thing that we could get to how Rich Gannon thinks in a game. He was able to show us some of that, you know, fourth quarter, these situations in practice we worked on and Coach Gruden played quarterback as Rich Gannon. And yeah, we let him complete some passes. We had to fill his ego. He shredded us, but we let him, because we knew we wasn't leaving unless he had some success, but he laid out situations for us.


"So we got in the game in those situations happen. They'd have some communication that we were familiar with," Brooks continued. "We didn't know what play they was running, but we knew their personalities. And we knew if we gave them certain situations, we had an idea of how they would respond. And nine times out of 10, they responded to what we practiced."

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To Brown, it was clear in the moment that the Raiders had no chance to fool the Bucs' defense. Looking back on it now, Brown knows it was foolish to assume that Gruden wouldn't have been able to give the Bucs the necessary insight to stopping an offense he installed in Oakland.

"We all had so much love for Gruden and knew that it was no way we're going to beat them running the same offense that they were running," Brown said. "Literally we would make audibles in a defensive line would stand up and say, 'It's coming right here!' You know? So, I mean, it was just a ridiculous effort on my part to think that these guys were so dumb that they wouldn’t know 15 lightning meant the same thing that it meant with their offense, you know?"

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When all was said and done, the Bucs had embarrassed the Raiders on the game's biggest stage. Quarterback Rich Gannon threw five interceptions, including three pick-sixes, as the Bucs rolled to a 48-21 win.

After building up the Raiders and the being traded in the middle of the night, Gruden got the ultimate payback by delivering a defeat that Raiders owner Al Davis never got over.

While Gruden maintains that revenge never crossed his mind while preparing for the Super Bowl, there's no doubt it was his knowledge of the Raiders' system and players that sparked a championship blowout.