Nearly two decades after helping bring Tampa Bay its first Super Bowl title, Jon Gruden indirectly helped deliver the Bucs their second Lombardi Trophy.
At least, that’s the way outspoken Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) boss Dana White explained it Saturday night, with no less an authority than former Tampa Bay tight end Rob Gronkowski seeming to confirm it.
Speaking on “UFC 278 with The Gronks,” White said he worked behind the scenes on a deal to send Gronkowski and quarterback Tom Brady — then a free agent after 20 seasons in New England — to the Raiders in 2020. At least until Gruden, then the Raiders coach, quashed things.
“I worked to put that deal together for Brady and ‘Gronk’ to come to the Raiders,” White said. “And it was almost a done deal, and at the last minute, Gruden blew the deal up and said that he didn’t want them, and all hell broke loose, man.
“It was crazy. Brady was already looking at houses, and it wasn’t being said yet that ‘Gronk’ was coming, so Las Vegas would’ve had Brady and ‘Gronk’ the year that the Bucs won the Super Bowl, except Gruden blew the deal up.”
Gronkowski’s response: “And Dana, that is exactly what happened, and you just told the story.”
“It worked out for the best, and I’m glad it did not go through,” Gronkowski added. “It all worked out for the best, man. I’m glad we went to Tampa, man. I loved that place.”
Brady signed with the Bucs in March 2020, about a month before the team acquired Gronkowski — who emerged from a one-year retirement — via a trade with New England. Gronkowski caught two of Brady’s three touchdown passes in Super Bowl 55, a 31-9 romp of the Chiefs.
White’s proclamation also seems to suggest the Raiders and veteran quarterback Derek Carr were the object of a viral Brady slur two summers ago on HBO’s “The Shop: Uninterrupted,” when he mentioned a team not interested in him during free agency. (Warning: The clip below contains language some may deem offensive.)
Speaking of that free-agency venture, Brady said, “One of the teams, they weren’t interested at the very end,” then expressed incredulity that they were sticking with their incumbent quarterback.
Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls