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Looking back, Gruden wouldn't change a thing

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 20, 2003

We'll be eager to hear what Jon Gruden has to say about his former Raiders players this week. Based on comments he made recently to Ann Killion of the San Jose Mercury News, it could be rather, um, interesting.

On talk the Raiders lost their last three regular-season games in 2001 because of tension he created in the locker room:

"I'm sorry about that tension, boys. Maybe if we made a couple of field goals, that our kicker (Sebastian Janikowski) was good enough to make, maybe I wouldn't have been as tense. I a-pol-o-giiiize."

On talk that he didn't give receiver Jerry Porter a chance:

"Maybe Jerry Porter wasn't ready to be an every-down player. Maybe 10 years from now Jerry Porter will say it was a beneficial time in his career. Not every student likes the lesson, but someone has to make a decision. You're the head coach. You'd like everybody to love you, to follow you. That's the goal. But there are 53 men on a team."

On talk that bringing in Rich Gannon and Jerry Rice was Al Davis' doing:

"That's exactly right. I didn't want any of those guys."

On talk his play-calling handcuffed the offense:

"I thought we did some pretty good things. We talked about great things and didn't quite get there. I hope they continue to explode to a new level. I'm not going to get all sensitive. If someone criticizes me, I'm not going to crumble up and blow away."

On leaving:

"I'm gone and the new guy there is doing a great job. I try not to look in the rearview mirror."

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