Johnson previously worked with Gruden in Tampa Bay for two seasons.
Jon Gruden’s use of racist, misogynistic, and homophobic slurs in leaked e-mails came as no surprise to Keyshawn Johnson.
The former New York Jets receiver and current ESPN analyst refused to hold back when sharing his thoughts on the disgraced and now former NFL head coach.
Johnson and Gruden’s tenures in Tampa Bay overlapped by two seasons, one of which produced a Super Bowl. Johnson had been a vocal critic of Gruden long before the release of the damning e-mails, which led to Gruden’s resignation from the Las Vegas Raiders’ coaching spot on Monday night.
“He’s just always been a fraud to me. … From day one, he’s been a used car salesman,” Johnson said on the Tuesday edition of his program Keyshawn, JWill, & Max.
He doubled down on his criticism on the morning’s edition of First Take.
“This dude is a fraud. You don’t seem to understand. He’s selling you on something and you’re buying it. He’s been doing that for years. … It’s the talking behind people’s backs. That was one of his traits in Tampa.”
.@keyshawn speaks on former coach Jon Gruden:
"Man this dude is a fraud. Y'all don't seem to understand he's selling you on something and you're buying it. He's been doing that for years. … Talking behind people's backs, that was one of his traits in Tampa." pic.twitter.com/aKdMwhWPq2
— First Take (@FirstTake) October 12, 2021
Johnson and Gruden routinely clashed in Tampa. Such friction eventually led to the former’s deactivation for the final seven games of the Buccaneers’ championship defense in 2003.
To date, Tampa Bay is the last defending Super Bowl winner to post a losing record the following season. Johnson was traded to Dallas during the ensuing offseason, reuniting him with former Jets head coach Bill Parcells.
While Johnson said he was “grateful” that Gruden arrived when he did, allowing Tampa Bay to succeed in the playoffs when after consecutive losses in the wild card round, he was “not surprised that he would talk about people in despairing views behind their backs.”
He further revealed on his show that the contents of Gruden’s e-mails were “disturbing.”
“He’s a bad person. I tried to tell people this when I played for this man, but I was in the wrong,” Johnson recalled. “‘Keyshawn’s just a spoiled brat. Keyshawn’s just a diva. Keyshawn just wants the football.’ But here we are now, however many years later and stuff is coming to the surface. I’m not going to let it just disappear, because I was the bad guy.”
Keyshawn, JWill & Max, co-hosted by college basketball star Jay Williams and ESPN commentator Max Kellerman, airs weekdays at 6 a.m. ET on ESPN Radio and ESPNEWS.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags
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