“Welcome and thank you for joining us for what is a very special day for the entire Buccaneers organization. Nine men who are already in the Ring of Honor all have one thing in common – they all played an important role in shaping the rich history of the Buccaneers and left a huge impact in our community. You can’t write the history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers without Lee Roy Selmon, John McKay, Doug Williams, Jimmie Giles, Paul Gruber, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Mike Alstott. And this season, we will be adding two more names to that list – my father, Malcolm Glazer and Jon Gruden.
“In 1995, my father purchased a franchise that had only posted three winning seasons in its 19-year history. In his third season as owner, in 1997, we made the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. And we would go on to make the playoffs in seven of the next 11 years. It all culminated with a World Championship after the 2002 season. Quite simply, we could not have won that Super Bowl without my father’s vision and guidance as owner and Jon Gruden’s hard-working, high-energy approach as head coach.
“Aside from the Super Bowl victory, my father’s greatest pleasure came from his long conversations talking to the players, coaches and staff over the years. Not about football, but about who they were, where they came from and how they can get to where they wanted to go. He would talk about how if you worked hard, you could accomplish anything you wanted in life. That came from a man who started with nothing, so he knew what he was talking about.
“One of my favorite stories took place in 1995. We had just bought the team and my parents were driving back home from Tampa to Palm Beach. They had stopped in Lakeland at a fast-food restaurant to get a bite to eat and a fan had walked up to my father and said, ‘Hello’ and had recognized him. My father decided that he was going to give him the shirt he was wearing – he was wearing a Bucs polo shirt. So he walked to the back of the car, took off the shirt he was wearing, gave it to the fan, changed into another shirt and the fan walked away. My father closed the trunk with the keys in the car. They had to walk to the local police station in Lakeland, who were very helpful in helping him open the trunk of the car. But you could truly say that my father gave the shirt off his back for our fans.
“Myself, and my siblings, strive every day to carry on the traditions, ideals and beliefs that my father set forth in every decision we make. If he were here today, my father would be humbled to be included in the Ring of Honor and we look forward to his induction on October 5 on Thursday night against the New England Patriots.
“Seeing Jon [Gruden] in this room today brings back a lot of great memories. After a trade that shook the entire NFL, Jon joined the Buccaneers in 2002. And he made the changes he felt necessary to deliver us a championship. He reshaped our team by bringing in 25 new players and a 200-pound rock of granite – an actual 200-pound rock of granite.
“That granite -- which sits in our lobby -- became an integral part of our championship philosophy and journey. ‘Pound the rock’ was something he used to motivate the players and emphasize that if they battled through adversity and hardship, eventually they would break through. It was a simple three-word phrase, but it inspired our team and became a rallying cry and a call to action for our entire organization that year.
“By the time we had reached the playoffs that season, the entire team had completely bought into John’s vision. And the rock traveled with us in the locker room before our biggest games. It came to Philadelphia with us and came all the way to San Diego for our Super Bowl victory.
“As a head coach, and in life, Jon is always driven to be the best. His four-o-clock arrival in the office everyday was legendary, and he provided a steady leadership and instilled a never-give-up attitude to our players.
“Every team has only one goal each year and that’s to win the Super Bowl. John Gruden is the reason I am wearing this [Super Bowl] ring. It’s also the reason that my father could stand alongside him holding the Vince Lombardi trophy and delivering on his promise to make the Buccaneers winners on and off the field.
“It seems just like yesterday to all of us, but it’s been 15 years. This is the 15th anniversary of that magical season and now is the time to honor the two men that played such an important role in that victory. Jon, on behalf of the entire Glazer family and all the Buccaneers fans, I want to thank you for all that you’ve done for our franchise and we look forward to bringing you into the Ring of Honor on Monday night, December 18.”
RING OF HONOR INDUCTEE JON GRUDEN
“I'd just like to say thank you to Bryan, Joel, the entire Glazer family. I'm overwhelmed. I'm very appreciative and humbled by this honor. I grew up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. My dad coached with John McKay. He got fired, hung in there, got a job and became the personnel director. I think my dad gets credit for drafting Bo Jackson and Steve Young. That didn't work out, but we drafted those guys.
“And then Malcolm Glazer comes. You saw the video. He had a vision, he had the guts, he had the courage to make this purchase and change the destiny of this franchise. When he called me in the middle of the night and made me a part of the organization, it was like a storybook opportunity for me to go home. But the leadership that Malcolm Glazer had, the genuine care that he had for me as a person, will never be forgotten. I remember going to the owners' meetings every year and sitting with him, with all the other head coaches and owners, and the only thing that he cared about was if I was happy. Where I was living, how my kids were doing – and it was genuine and it's something you can't replace.
“I'm very thankful for the Glazer family, the vision that you guys continue to show, the juice you bring, the hope you bring, every football season especially. I thank you guys.
“I'd also like to thank our coaches. I got traded here in the middle of the night. That's a great story to tell someday when we're having dinner, but not today. I'd like to thank the assistant coaches that helped me along the way. Could not have done it without them. And certainly the players. I grew up with Jimmie Giles. I was a ball boy for the Bucs. Doug Williams – I idolized Doug. But I thank the players, the players I coached, the players that came before me and I'm really excited about the players you have now. I wish I could've coached some of these guys.
“I'm humbled, I'm honored. Most of all I'd like to thank my wife Cindy for the support she gave me over the years. I'm a little choked up, as you can see, but thank you very much.”
(On being a key member of the Buccaneers and the Tampa Bay community)
Jon Gruden: “Well, I love it here. Like I said, my mom and dad have been out here for a long time. My wife and I are very involved at Moffitt Cancer Center here. A chance to give back to young kids that are playing football, people in the community that need a little help. We’re happy to be of assistance any way we can and proud to be a strong member of the community.”
(On the importance of having an owner in Malcolm Glazer that believed in him as much as he did)
JG: “It didn’t put any pressure on me [laughs]. Warren Sapp told me, ‘If you don’t deliver a Super Bowl, we will kill you.’ You don’t realize the compensation until the draft comes around. You miss the first- and second-round draft choices and you really wish in hindsight that we didn’t have to give up anything. But, it really made me work harder. It really gave me the incentive to do the very best that I could for Mr. Glazer and his family that made that trade because it was a lot to live up to. Perhaps I never will live up to it, but I’m not dead yet.”
(On what stands out most from his time with the Buccaneers and what it will mean to see his name on the side of Raymond James Stadium)
JG: “I can’t sum up what that will mean to me. Obviously, it’s humbling. I’m sure Derrick [Brooks] and Jimmie [Giles], they would all tell you the same thing. To be one of the members of the Buccaneer family that you want to put up there is an unbelievable experience. I can’t summarize that. I’m just thrilled and somewhat speechless here today.”
(On relationship between his father Malcolm Glazer and Jon Gruden)
Bryan Glazer: “I think Jon touched on it a little bit. My father was always not about the football side of people. He was about the personal side, about the kids, the wife, the family and that’s what he spent his time talking to Jon. There was an immediate connection, both competitive people. Both wanted to win and had an ultimate goal and they achieved that.”
(On if there was a moment from Super Bowl winning season that sticks out to him)
JG: “Is Brad Johnson here? Where is he? The memories of going head-to-head with Brad every week. Here’s a guy that wanted to be in the shotgun. He wanted to be in the shotgun, he was most comfortable in the shotgun. I didn’t know a damn thing about shotgun. I’ll be the last coach in the history of this league that went wire-to-wire with zero snaps from the shotgun. But, he never got ticked off. He never got mad and I appreciate that. I wanted to tell you that, Brad. We would not have won that without you. But, my favorite memory was when I played quarterback. I was Rich Gannon. I was ripping you guys, [Derrick] Brooks. I was throwing slants, square-ins. I was checking off. If I had played in the Super Bowl for the Oakland Raiders, it might not have been the same outcome. That’s what I remember the most. I remember the excitement to go in there, as a football coach – and we had our obstacles on offense. We had a lot of questions to answer. We changed everything on offense. Forget about the system, the players, everything, coaches – we had a long way to go. We had to go up against Derrick Brooks, we had to go up against Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice. We had a hard time blocking them. We had a hard time getting away from [John] Lynch and [Ronde] Barber. Every day they tried to kick our butt and it made me better. It made Brad better and we kept competing. Sooner or later, I knew if we kept pounding that rock, sooner or later we would have a breakthrough on offense and that’s just what happened. Unfortunately, Brad hurt his back and was out for two or three games and we had to play our backup quarterbacks. But when Brad got healthy, that’s what I remember the most. Johnson was healthy, we were heading into the playoffs coming off that bye week and people weren’t going to beat us. We were not going to be denied.”
(On his thought of current Buccaneers team)
JG: “Well, high expectations. They’re a team on the rise. I’m sure Coach Koetter and Jason [Licht] are feeling the same thing. We’ve done a great job building this thing. We’re improving every year, we’re on the rise. We’ve got Hard Knocks here, we’ve got a chance to see behind the scenes what’s going on here. But, that doesn’t mean anything. We’re going to get what we deserve. I say ‘we’ because I feel a part of the Bucs still. We’ve got a lot to prove. A lot of things have to go right, but I think this team has to do the same thing we did, that any championship team does. You got to work your butt off and underestimate nobody. With Jameis Winston and the leadership of the coaching staff here, I think you’re going to see some very exciting things this fall. I’m going to try and get some tickets.”
(On his thoughts the night before and after his Super Bowl victory)
JG: “You don’t want to know, you don’t want to be there. It was my old team we were playing against. I hate to keep reliving the Super Bowl team. That was a special time, I can’t deny that. Never will. But the other six years that I was here, we had a lot of great players and great moments. You come back in this facility, this is the theater in which I worked. This is where we presented game plans. I can still remember installing plays that didn’t work worth a damn, wondering why I installed them. I can still remember visiting with the team after tough losses and big wins. Just a lot of great memories of being a Buccaneer.”
(On what about Jon Gruden made him such an attractive coaching prospect for the organization)
BG: “Well Jon was a winner. Jon, coming from Oakland, had huge success on the offensive side of the ball. We had an unbelievable defense and all we were missing was that side of the football. Getting a chance to get a young coach in his prime was a once in a lifetime opportunity and so we did what we needed to do to make it happen.”
(On the feelings expressed by the Glazer family once Gruden was acquired from Oakland)
BG: “It was euphoria. It was so exciting to know that Jon was coming to Tampa. It was a big risk, a big gamble with everything that we gave up. But at the end of the day, I’ve got this and he’s got this. We all have this and those in this room that were a part of those memories that come with that.”
(On how he believes Malcolm Glazer would evaluate the current team)
BG: “I think he would just love this team. We have such a core of young players and my father liked to talk to young people. He liked to talk and give advice and hear their stories, as I mentioned before. But to have a large portion of our team are on the younger side within the first couple of years of being in the NFL and having someone they could talk to. My father really relished that moment.”
(On if he could have envisioned being inducted into a team’s Ring of Honor 25 years ago)
JG: “No, I can’t wrap my arms around that, Ira. That’s what makes football great. The things that are going to happen you can’t explain. You can sit in a dark room and try to be right all the time and hire the best analytical team possible. Sport scientists now coming into the game, you can’t predict what’s going to happen. You just have to hope that you get an opportunity that you can take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself if you’re around good people that give you a chance. A lot of things went right for me.”
(On the decision to keep the team in Tampa Bay after Malcolm Galzer purchased the team)
BG: “It was amazing. The team had had such a long history of losing, and yet, 35,000-40,000 fans were still showing up week-to-week coming to the games. That showed a lot. That core of base fans that were there all the time through think and through thin was a great start. It’s a big market and the people were out there. We knew if we started winning, the rest would come and it did.”
(On what Bryan learned from his father in how he structured and built the organization)
BG: “My father had a saying that, ‘If you want to know the road ahead, ask the man that’s been there.’ He always told us that saying growing up and when we purchased the team, one of the first things he did, we went and took a trip with him to see other NFL owners. I remember going down to Dallas and meeting with Jerry Jones and going to other cities and meeting with the owners and learning about how they ran their teams. So we weren’t coming in cold and blind and trying to figure it out ourselves, he already had that knowledge. You know, he doesn’t know everything and he doesn’t want to pretend he’s the smartest person in the room. He wants to get educated by smarter people that are around him. We’ve taken that and we do that constantly. We always want to meet with people. We always want to learn from other people and that’s something you could carry on in anything in life.”
(On one thing that Gruden has learned that he would pass on to Dirk Koetter)
JG: “Well, I would tell him [and] I would tell the players the same thing I tried to tell you guys [his former players] every year. There’s a rock out there in the lobby, you’ve just got to pound it. The rock is the opponent. If I try to slam that rock and break that rock by myself, it’s probably not going to happen. I need [Gerald] McCoy, I need the linebackers, I need the kicker, I need everybody to pound that rock, so we can smash it into smithereens. That’s how you win and dominate in this league. It’s about every guy in the building. Once you cut this thing down to 53 [players on the roster], everybody’s got to become a grinder. One thought, one mind, one message every day – it’s about the team, it’s about the rock, it’s about finishing and competing because they’ve got enough talent to do it. If they can stay injury free, have a little luck along the way and pound the rock – the Bucs are back. You watch and see.”
JG: “I would just like to say one here at the very end here that the memories that you have, I almost feel like I’m dying or I’m dead or something. I haven’t been back in this building and seeing [Derrick] Brooks, and seeing [Brad] Johnson, and saw [Martin] Gramatica and Shelton Quarles, goodness gracious, seeing the Glazers and seeing this facility – all you’ve got to do is walk outside – I have this feeling in football. You never stay the same. You either get better or worse. And I look out here at this team, the players that you have assembled, the indoor facility that’s being constructed, you know, this is exciting. I’m thankful to be back in the building, appreciate the visor and the shirt and, at heart, I am always going to be a Buccaneer. Thank you, guys.”