Keyshawn Johnson says Jon Gruden messed with his psyche

Getty Images

We have a new installment of ESPN on ESPN crime, as a former player who now works for ESPN gave an example of a miserable experience with a coach he hated — a coach who also happens to work for ESPN.

Keyshawn Johnson said this morning on Sunday NFL Countdown that he despised playing for Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay so much that he was desperate to leave, by any means necessary.

“When your psyche is messed with, and you don’t want to be around the organization or team, you just want to do whatever you can to get out of there,” Johnson said. “And that was the situation when I was under Coach Gruden in Tampa.”

Gruden became Johnson’s coach in 2002, when he took the Bucs job, and they won the Super Bowl that season. But the next year, Gruden and Johnson were at each other’s throats so much that the Bucs essentially kicked Johnson off the team, sending him home and deactivating him for the final seven games.

Johnson says he was more than happy to exit a team coached by Gruden.

“I didn’t want to be there,” Johnson said. “I didn’t want to be in the environment. No matter we had just won a championship, and I was playing fine the year that I got deactivated, I was doing great. In fact, we had a chance to go to the playoffs. But it was just something about the way I was being coached, talked to, dealt with. Just didn’t want to be there. So for me, I was happy when I got the phone call that said, ‘Hey, we’re going to deactivate you for the rest of the year.’ I was excited. I was like, ‘Oh, cool, no problem. I don’t have to be around this because my health is more important.’ Going into a building and not wanting to be there, it was just a blessing to me to be able to go to Dallas. Heck, even before I went to Dallas I was talking to the Arizona Cardinals. Now think about that. I just wanted to get out of Tampa.”

We’ll be curious to see whether ESPN gives Gruden equal time to respond.

52 responses to “Keyshawn Johnson says Jon Gruden messed with his psyche

  1. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that Keyshawn’s not the only ex-Gruden player who feels that way. That syrupy, overblown crap that he produces for commentary on MNF has phony all over it.

  2. just another petulant child who always had to have his way. they dont call him me-shawn for nothing.

  3. for the 5 bigillionth time Keyshawn. DO SOMETHING YOU’RE GOOD AT! GO BACK TO INTERIOR DESIGN!

  4. “The one thing I just have to be honest with everyone in the world about Keyshawn. I played with the man four years and he never said ‘my bad.’

    And that’s unheard of in the game of football. Never said ‘my bad’ in the four years I played with the guy. It was always something else. It was always something else. Chris Simms threw him a ball one time and he dropped it, and he said, ‘your ball spins funny.'” – Warren Sapp

  5. I wouldn’t want to play for Gruden either. Football players are just chess pieces to him, and not men. And he allows his QB’s to be beaten up too much. Poor Chris Sims, his only claim to fame, other than being the son of Phil, is he got his spleen removed after a loss to Carolina.

  6. Funnily enough….I don’t know if Keyshawn and Gruden have ever been together on screen during the MNF countdown or Sunday NFL countdown shows.
    They probably still hate each other’s guts.

  7. He wasn’t really professional in Carolina either which is why he was there only 1 year.
    He and Gruden just clashed. It happens. Too bad teams can’t deactivate guys like that anymore. Even regular companies can put guys on admin. leave if they so choose.

  8. Well then, if Keyshawn’s problems were because of Gruden, then I guess Gruden is a master of time and space. Keyshawn had serious issues in NY because he couldn’t take the fact that (in his mind) a nobody like Chrebet was getting the fame Keyshawn thought should be his. Let’s face it, Keyshawn was never anything more than a could-have-been who never lived up to his potential because he wasn’t willing to do the work required to be great. It’s like he thought he was so naturally superior that it wouldn’t matter. Add to that all of the trouble he caused in the locker room, and it’s no surprise Gruden would rip into him. I remember Warren Sapp talk about how upset he was with Keyshawn. Sapp put his rep on the line and pushed for the team to sign Keyshawn, only to watch him get real lazy once the ink had dried on the contract.

  9. Basically an admission that Keyshawn was (is) mentally weak. Sometimes leaders want to see how subordinates perform under pressure. Obviously Keyshawn couldn’t take it. Too used to getting his way all those years.

  10. not pft’s fault, but basically this article says nothing. if keyshawn is going to rip someone, maybe he should tell people WHY he is ripping them. what EXACTLY did gruden do, or say, that was so horrible that keyshawn wanted out? im guessing that keyshawn, the prima-donna that he was, didnt take kindly to being told what to do and just had a general problem with authority.

  11. He is the WORST sports commentator in the history of sports commentators.

    Idiot wrapped in a moron does not even come close to how bad he is.

    I can’t be the only one here……..

  12. SHUT UP! You were an underachiever.
    I dont know how anyone watches BSPN and listens to him, CC and Berman. The 3 stooges is why I dont watch it. Lots of yelling and bantering. NFL Network is the way to go. They need a shakeup of “Talent” or lack of, at BSPN

  13. Mrbigass is right Gruden is so fake so bad The FAKE even fakes a look thinking he is tough and every call on MNF is so overblown and pandering to make us sick. Gruden sucks

  14. trbowman says:
    Oct 23, 2011 11:26 AM
    This guy Keyshawn, he’s kidding man I loved having him on my team. He’s my type of guy.

    I usually disagree with almost everything you have to say, but that was hilarious. I think you may have written verbatim Gruden’s response. Nicely done.

  15. He is the WORST sports commentator in the history of sports commentators

    Gotta go with Shannon Sharpe on that one.

  16. Keyshawn should be fired, along with Chris Carter. ESPN Sunday Countdown needs a serious facelift. It’s garbage analysis followed by meaningless promos to “hype up” the casual fan.

  17. … Espn is pining for the days of Dennis Miller… Muzzle Chucky.. I can’t stands no more…

  18. Football players have been getting yelled at since there have been coaches. These guys are allegedly so tough and can play with all these injuries and expect others to do the same, but yell at them and they cry like a ten year old girl. Yet are quick to jump on another player who acts like a baby, can we do away with all these alleged analysts or better yet Espn all together.

  19. Often times, it’s during adversity that you find out what a person is truly made of. And, true to character, when something doesn’t go right, Keyshawn Johnson has repeatedly been the first guy to beat his chest and say, “what about me?”
    In the midst of a three-game skid, what the Bucs’ players should be saying is, “what about the team?”

    Jon Gruden has done a terrific job of making the most of his offensive talent. And the truth is that Johnson is, at best, a No. 2 wide receiver. He plays hard on every down and never quits, but Johnson certainly doesn’t threaten anyone with his speed.

    All of which, coupled with the Bucs’ losing record, is likely the reasoning behind the decision to deactivate him for the rest of the season.

    At 4-6, the Bucs have obviously not played up to expectations, so this move is also an attention-getter. It’s Gruden putting his foot down and reminding everyone who’s the boss, and that no one is above reproach.

    – Merril Hoge

  20. Another so called export sports antalist that is still cryin about me, me , me, . Keyshawn messes with my psyche each week on his show. No one cares either way.

  21. “does it seem like warren sapp tries to rip all his ex-teams/ ex-teammates, ?
    benedict arnold!”

    Nope. Aside from Keyshawn and Gruden, he’s been pretty fine with the Bucs and the majority of the players from this time there.

  22. Ohhhhh….poor poor Keyshawn…boo hoo hoo….coach Gruden is being mean to me…boo hoo hoo…..poor poor Keyshawn…coach Gruden talked mean to me and bruised my massively inflated and selfish ego….boo hoo hoo….poor poor Keyshawn.

  23. keyshaun comes on tv and says things about players that he actually did when he played!never liked him,never will like him simply because he is the world’s biggest hypocrite!don’t like gruden either,but i got more respect for him than i ever will for keyshaun!

  24. too bad meshawn still doesnt realize how silly and childish these kind of statements reveal him to be. you were a professional being handsomely compensated to perfect a craft as best you could. it’s not about whether or not you liked your supervisor, you were excited and “cool” with being sent home from work and asked not to return? all because your supervisor “messed with your psyche”…right

    really dude? irvin, deion, sapp, etc dont yell and banter? it’s the same template with diff’t voices and faces. both networks do it because it works. i watch both so it doesnt really matter to me, just sayin….

  25. Jon Gruden was the worst thing that could have happened to the Bucs. Before all you in here go and attack Keyshawn remember what Gruden had in Tampa and what he destroyed. Everything had to be about Gruden. Keyshawn was sent home, Rich McKay was forced out as GM, Sapp was let go in free agency without so much as a call and they cut John Lynch. All that happened in 2003, the year after Gruden won a Super Bowl on the back of Monte Kiffin’s defense and Tony Dungy’s team. Gruden destroyed the team so he could build it in his image and they haven’t won since. He’s an awful awful coach in that he’s way overated and completely self centered — thus the reason he’s good on MNF. This is why when he started MNF I personally knew all the talk about him going to this team or that team was ridiculous — he’s in it for the spotlight and that’s what he now has on him.

  26. Keyshawn, how about some specifics? What did Gruden do? You can’t just say “messed with…” I mess with the guys at work all the time but they don’t shutdown like babies….

  27. Keyshawn was a good football player – but not a great one. As a #1 draft pick, it’s clear he never lived up to his potential. On the other hand…as a diva who caused problems in the locker room and the organization, nobody with the possible exception of Terrell Owens ever eclipsed him in that arena. And it surprised me that ESPN would even hire a bonehead of his magnitude. If he’d only had a problem with Gruden, I might cut him some slack. But he had a problem wherever he went so no sale there.

    I find Gruden to be excellent in the booth – and much better than my childhood friend Tony Kornheiser who though he was an excellent writer (even way back when he recruited me to write for our high school paper when he was Editor), really didn’t know nearly enough about the nuances of the game to be effective in a broadcaster capacity.

    Back to the point…I don’t like Keyshawn Johnson…nor does Mike Ditka. I can see him seething on almost every show as Keyshawn spouts his self-absorbed analysis.

    Fire the bum and let him go drive a cab. If anybody needs to get his tires back on the ground…it’s Keyshawn Johnson!

  28. Keyshawn?????? Seriously i didnt know who he was until i seen him clowning on his coach and teammates. This guy do not know what he is talking about because his ego is blocking his brain. All talk no walk type of a guy. He just stated that the SEC isn’t good wow and whom did you play for USC and what was your role besides being a little prick!!!!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.