Keyshawn Still Consumed with Gruden

It's been eight months since Keyshawn Johnson was fired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He's now where he wants to be and he is comfortable in Dallas with coach Bill Parcells. Yet Johnson remains consumed with Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden.

"I tried to work with him," Johnson said. "I gave him everything I could give him. It came down to he didn't like me and I didn't like him."

Labeling him a disruptive force in the locker room and a distraction after a 4-6 start, the Buccaneers decided to deactivate Johnson for the final six games of the season. They said he missed meetings, team functions and even accused him of wearing flip-flops to practice.

The latter of which Johnson doesn't deny.

"Why did I wear flip flops to practice? Because practice was five minutes and it was a walk-through," Johnson said.

Will you do that in Dallas with Parcells as coach?

"I don't know. Probably on a Saturday walk-through. But if it was a problem Bill would let me know. He wouldn't wait nine weeks and tell the media in his 'bash Keyshawn' press conference. Tell me what you want, define and make it clear. Everybody I have had success with we have been straight from the beginning."

Gruden no longer discusses Johnson but those around Johnson remain consumed with the man they believe tried to ruin his career. The scars from weeks of sabotage of supposedly purposely not trying to get him the ball, the six-game deactivation and then intentionally bad-mouthing him to others teams remain open for all to see.

"It was punitive," agent Jerome Stanley said. "Firing him didn't help the boss. It was a I will show you `master' type of situation. I am going to put you in your place. He continued to try to hurt him afterwards, bad-mouthing him to every team that asked about him. He tried to harm him. He tried to belittle him. He tried to marginalize him. That was his retribution."

Stanley readily acknowledges that part of Johnson's motivation in Dallas will be to prove himself right and Gruden wrong.

According to Johnson, he will make whoever plays quarterback for the Cowboys a better player -- whether it be Quincy Carter or Vinny Testaverde.

"I get it done," Johnson said. "I always have. I've caught passes from 10 different quarterbacks in my eight years. I still have great numbers. Badly thrown balls are routine catches for me. That's what's going to make them that much better."

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