Ex-Jets No. 1 Pick Blasts ‘Fraud’ Jon Gruden in ESPN Rant

Keyshawn Johnson

Getty Former New York Jets wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson gave his unfiltered opinion on ex-Raiders head coach Jon Gruden.

On October 11, a recent NFL investigation came to a head when Jon Gruden announced that he would be resigning as the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.

First reported on by NFL insider Tom Pelissero, this decision stemmed from an email scandal involving Gruden and Bruce Allen, former president of the Washington Football Team. Journalists Ken Belson and Katherine Rosman leaked the content of the emails earlier that morning in a New York Times article, condemning the remarks as racist, homophobic and misogynistic.

This morning on October 12, former New York Jets’ first overall pick Keyshawn Johnson decided to speak his mind on his former Super Bowl champion head coach in Tampa Bay.

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Keyshawn Sounds off on Gruden

On a morning segment of ESPN’s Keyshawn, JWill & Max, the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver let loose on Gruden and what he thought of him during their time together with the Buccaneers franchise.

Here is the full transcript of Johnson’s comments.

I didn’t know that Jon would say things like that and put them in an email [but] he’s just always been a fraud to me, 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… Think about it, we won the championship and we’re standing on a podium [at] the Super Bowl, and the general manager’s trying to raise the trophy and the head coach takes the trophy from him, basically says ‘give me this, this belongs to me.’ In all of that, were you paying attention? And then the next year, the general manager leaves in the middle of the season because he doesn’t want to deal with all the shenanigans that [were] going on. Think about this Jay and Max, Rich McKay left in the middle of the season to go take another job with another team because he doesn’t want to be around this guy.

That’s a pretty strong characterization from an ex-player that you won a Super Bowl ring with. Generally, there are fond memories shared between athletes and coaches that are able to accomplish such a feat but clearly, that’s not the case with Gruden and Johnson.

The wide receiver turned ESPN analyst said a couple of interesting things here. First off, he called the coach strong terms like “fraud” and “used car salesman.” Second, he credited his championship to Dungy and McKay, more so than Gruden. Finally, the ex-Jet gave some behind-the-scenes information on the fallout between McKay and his new head coach.

Little moments like a Lombardi Trophy snatch and an unbearable workplace personality led to the surprise split according to Johnson. McKay had enough, which would support the recent turn of events in Las Vegas.

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The Fallout of Gruden’s Resignation

What a mess this is for owner Mark Davis and the Raiders franchise. After starting off 3-0 in their beautiful new home in the desert, Las Vegas dropped their last two games including a Week 5 loss to the Chicago Bears.

In his official statement of resignation, the head coach voiced that he didn’t want to be a “distraction,” but it’s too late for that. He also said that he “never meant to hurt anyone.”

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers then released a statement on October 12, announcing that they will be removing the former HC from their Ring of Honor. “While we acknowledge Jon Gruden’s contributions on the field, his actions go against our core values as an organization,” the declaration read. Pelissero tweeted out the entire response.

It’ll be challenging for this franchise to overcome a midseason bombshell like this but with 12 games left on the schedule, they’ll have to try their best to do so. The Jets lost to Gruden’s Raiders in embarrassing fashion on a last-second Hail Mary in 2020. They do not play the organization in 2021.

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