No Big Deal

September 25 – What's the big deal? That's the question Buccaneers wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson ponders each time he's asked about the heated argument that took place on the sideline between he and Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden during the team's Monday Night Football game against the Rams. Both Johnson and Gruden have downplayed the incident, but it has received plenty of attention in both the local and national media.

Tampa Bay wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson said his sideline argument with Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden during the fourth quarter of the team's Monday Night Football game looked worse on television than it actually was. Johnson told the media Wednesday that the incident was blown out of proportion and that it was behind both he and Gruden.

"As I watched the replay on television, it looks a little bad from my perspective," Johnson said Wednesday evening on his 620 WDAE radio show. "It just looks bad on TV. When I had the conversation or whatever you want to call it on the sideline, I didn't pay any mind that we were on Monday Night Football. It was during a timeout. As far as I was concerned, it was a timeout and they went to commercial break. But it didn't happen that way."

The heated sideline argument started after Gruden pulled Johnson out of the game on a third-and-4 play late in the fourth quarter because of a miscommunication on the previous play. The third down play called for a two-tight end, two-back, one-receiver set and Gruden opted to keep WR Keenan McCardell on the field instead of Johnson, who has hauled in 12 passes for 182 yards this season.

"We had a play called that involved a little shift and motion and he didn't hear it like I thought he should have," Gruden said of the incident on Monday night. "I asked him about it, and other than that is was a little, ‘he said this, and he said that,' an investigative type thing, but no big deal."

Needless to say, Johnson, who has made a name for himself in the pros as a clutch possesion and third-down receiver, didn't care to be kept off of the field for such a critical play.

"It has nothing to do with getting the football," said Johnson. "It has something to do with coming out of the football game. I don't like to come out of games. I don't like to start slow and I like the ball to go to me early and often in a ball game because it gets me going. I don't like to go in and out of football games and I think Coach Gruden is going to understand that.

"In six years of playing professional sports, other than being injured or being extremely tired, I don't come out of games."

Gruden and Johnson were also reportedly in a sideline dispute during the Bucs-Ravens game the previous week, but that alleged incident wasn't caught on camera.

Johnson said he's too busy preparing for the Cincinnati Bengals to focus on what the local and national media are making of he and Gruden's sideline dispute(s).

"It's not really a concern of mine," Johnson said of the attention he and Gruden's argument has received. "What was done was done and what was said was said. But we're looking forward. It's more newsworthy for those who want to continue to talk about it and who want to write about it. It's not that big of an issue to us. We're just going to try to take our team from 2-1 to 3-1. That's our main concern."

While the type of sideline controversy that occurred on Monday night might have been somewhat foreign to Tampa Bay fans, Johnson, who had his share of sideline disputes with former Jets head coach Bill Parcells, and Gruden, who was known to get into a sideline confrontation with Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon every now and again, said those type of discussions/arguments can be expected in the heat of battle.

"For the city of Tampa, they probably have never seen anything like that up close and in person," said Johnson. "It's a little bit of a shocker to them. For us, though, I think it's human nature, especially for coach Gruden and myself. From being under a guy that was similar, I'm used to that and I think (Gruden) is used to that. But it's always newsworthy, especially when it's on national television.

"I have good relationships with all my head coaches. (I) always will, no matter whether they coach me today or tomorrow. It's just the competitive nature in any coach and any player that wants to win football games. That's the bottom line and we understand that."


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Looking for the largest selection of Bucs merchandise on the internet? Check out BucGear.com. (Keyshawn Johnson) "He comes up to me 4 or 5 times during 7 on 7. I talked to Keyshawn this morning, and he's a battler. I wish the camera would stay on the field instead of on the sideline. What can you say about someone who plays that way last night? The 3rd and 15 catch, put that on a reel, you'll never forget that play. There's going to be outbursts of emotions with #19 and certainly I have the tendency to get a little excited once in a while. I love the guy and I respect him tremendously, and I think he knows that and sometimes there are sparks that fly in the heat of the battle." (What the argument was about) "We had a play called that involved a little shift and motion and he didn't hear it like I thought he should have. I asked him about it, and other than that is was a little, ‘he said this, and he said that,' an investigative type thing, but no big deal." (Keyshawn being off the field on 3rd down) "We have certain personnel where we have two tight ends, two backs, and one wide receiver. Sometimes that's a good personnel position to be in and in that situation when you're guarding yourself against the blitz somebody, from the wide receiver standpoint, has to come off the field, and that's either (Keenan) McCardell or Keyshawn Johnson. Some of those plays its McCardell that stays and some of those plays it's Keyshawn Johnson that stays. The final play of the game that we had offensively, Keenan practiced that all week and that's the way we went. Those are two pro receivers and both of them have impressive football cards, and hopefully they can understand that. (Keyshawn and I) went along with our business. It's like being on Hard Copy sometimes. He's a great football player who thrives on emotion. I'm trying to be as good as I can be as a coach, and sometimes I get emotional, combined that sometimes there are sparks that fly. I don't make any more out of this than what it was. It was the heat of the battle and now we move on to the next game. If he wants to vent, he can vent on me. I want this guy to go back to whatever phase of emotion he can reach on gameday. I don't want to encourage these sideline things. But this is a big win for our football team and these are two guys, late in the ballgame, who are emotional and I'm going to put this to rest now."


Want to sound off on this topic? You can talk about it now with dozens of other Buc fans on the PewterReport.com Red Message Boards and/or you can talk about it with fans and the PewterReport.com insiders in the PewterReport.com Chat Room on Wednesday nights from 9-10 PM.

All PewterReport.com photos are courtesy of Pewter Report director of photography Cliff Welch unless otherwise noted.


Become an insider today with a subscription to Pewter Report or by becoming a Club Insider. You can also become a subscriber to Pewter Report by calling 1-800-881-BUCS(2827).

Looking for the largest selection of Bucs merchandise on the internet? Check out BucGear.com.


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