tampabay.com

Bucs assistant arrested, player suspended

Suspicion of DUI leaves Jay Gruden's status unknown. Fullback Rick Razzano will miss four games for steroids.

By RICK STROUD and STEPHEN F. HOLDER
Published September 17, 2005


TAMPA - Good thing the Bills don't play in Tampa until Sunday. They can wait.

Right now, the Bucs are facing personal battles.

They were blindsided Friday by more off-field problems. Offensive assistant Jay Gruden was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, and rookie fullback Rick Razzano was suspended for four games by the NFL for violating the league's policy on anabolic steroids.

Gruden, 38, also coach of the Arena league's Orlando Predators, was arrested at 2:25 a.m. Friday. The younger brother of Bucs coach Jon Gruden was pulled over near Busch Boulevard and Linebaugh Avenue after Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office deputies observed the car he was driving weaving and crossing the center line, according to police reports.

He was transported to the Orient Road jail. An arrest report showed Gruden's blood alcohol content registered 0.10 and 0.11, above the 0.08 at which Florida considers a driver to be impaired. Gruden was booked at 4:35 a.m. and released four hours later after posting $500 bond.

The incidents occurred three days after cornerback Torrie Cox was jailed after his second arrest in nine months on suspicion of driving under the influence. They also served to dampen the mood at One Buc Place after a 24-13 upset at Minnesota in Sunday's season opener.

"Usually in our league, they say you get to celebrate a victory for 24 hours," general manager Bruce Allen said. "That's what we got. They're distractions, but they're distractions for those three individuals more than anyone else."

Allen said the Bucs have not determined whether Gruden will perform his regular duties in the coaches' box during Sunday's home opener against Buffalo. Gruden met with Allen on Friday morning before returning to his home in Orlando.

"I would like to apologize to the Orlando Predators and Tampa Bay Buccaneers organizations, their fans, my family and friends for any embarrassment this incident has caused," Jay Gruden said in a statement released by the Predators. "This was a mistake in judgment on my part. I deeply regret it and have learned a valuable lesson. It won't happen again."

"Obviously, I'm very disappointed," Jon Gruden said. "It's a very serious matter, and serious matters get dealt with very seriously by society and, obviously, by us. I love my brother. I haven't talked to him, but I will. All I can say from the Gruden family is I'm very apologetic."

Predators president Brett Bouchy said Gruden, who led the team to the 1998 and 2000 ArenaBowl titles, will remain as coach.

"This is an unfortunate situation that Jay will address. He has expressed sincere remorse," Bouchy said in a statement. "We will continue to gather information on this incident and will handle any discipline internally. Our organization remains totally supportive of him as an individual and confident in his ability to lead the Predators football operations."

If the Bucs' reaction to Cox's arrest is any indication, Gruden will not be coaching Sunday. Wednesday, the Bucs announced Cox would be inactive against the Bills. He was inactive for three games after his Dec.4 arrest.

Jay Gruden, who quarterbacked the Tampa Bay Storm to four ArenaBowl titles from 1991-96 and was named MVP of ArenaBowl VII in 1993, is no stranger to the dangers of drinking and driving.

His second stint as Orlando's coach came after coach Fran Papasedero, 34, was killed in June 2003 when he lost control of the car he was driving. A toxicology report determined the accident was alcohol-related.

"I think they're individual incidents, but we're part of the same team," Allen said. "It reflects poorly on the team, but it's more the incidents that are concerning. Fortunately, no one's hurt, and hopefully everyone learns from it. You would hope the first would've been enough."

The 5-foot-11, 250-pound Razzano, a seventh-round choice from Mississippi, will be eligible to return to the active roster after the Bucs' Oct.9 game against the Jets.

The Bucs signed safety Kalvin Pearson from the practice squad. In a statement released by the team, Razzano said he used the steroid while training before the draft.

"I take full responsibility for my mistake and encourage all athletes to be fully aware of all substances which may be prohibited by the NCAA or their respective sports and leagues," Razzano said. "I apologize to my family, my coaches, teammates and the ownership and Buccaneer fans for the embarrassment and distraction I have caused. Let my experience be a further lesson for all."

Allen said the Bucs have no plans to release Razzano but stopped short of guaranteeing him a roster spot when the suspension ends.

"It's absolutely a tattoo on him for quite a few years," Allen said. "He wasn't dressing on game day, so I don't know if you can say he was secure in his career as it was. It has a dramatic effect on his career, but he can overcome it by performing well and never again being associated with this."

Under league guidelines, players typically are tested at least once a season, likely during training camp. A player can be subjected to additional testing if he has had previous involvement with steroids or when "medical or behavior evidence warrants." Also, an unspecified number of players are chosen randomly by computer for weekly tests.

Razzano's four-week unpaid suspension is standard for a first offense. A second offense results in a a six-week suspension and a third a seasonlong ban.

Allen said the off-field incidents should not affect the Bucs' focus Sunday.

"We are family. You hear people talk about it and it's a team," Allen said. "I've seen the other guys affected in caring for their teammate.

"When Torrie was going through it, a lot of players cared about it and wanted to make sure he was okay. But our focus is the Buffalo Bills. No matter how you look at it, that's who we play Sunday, and that's who the 53 guys on our roster are going to battle."