TAMPA — Bucs fans’ nightmares comes in many forms, shapes and sizes. History haunts them from afar. Misery is a high roller. The franchise’s sins always seem right around the corner.
And here comes Jonny Vegas.
Jon Gruden is reportedly coming out of hiding, if you can call Monday Night Football hiding, to again become head coach of the Oakland Raiders, who will move to Las Vegas for the 2020 NFL season.
And, yeah, the Bucs play there in 2020.
I can already feel your knees knocking, Bucs fans. You didn’t get a Chucky doll under your Christmas tree, and now you have to watch the Raiders open your present. Welcome to the real Sin City.
Gruden gets to become Danny Ocean while the Bucs continue their voyage to the bottom of the sea.
Chucky is getting the band back together. A phone call here, a phone call there. I hear Bruce Gradkowski is dealing blackjack at the Mirage.
This is as good as it can get for Gruden. He takes over a team filled with talent that underachieved in 2017, and, best of all, he has a good young quarterback in Derek Carr. The Raiders are in about the same place the Bucs were in 2002, when Gruden stormed their trenches and led them to the franchise’s lone Super Bowl win.
Not that the Bucs are worried. Why, they’re sitting pretty at five wins, with no reason at all to make any staff changes or anything else, judging by Dirk Koetter’s hypoxic comments after the season.
It’s all over but the haunting.
I say all this while knowing full well that it wasn’t going to happen for Gruden and the Bucs. I’ve said it before. I don’t believe in second acts, unless it’s Sinatra at the Sands. Gruden is a closer, and these Bucs aren’t close to needing that. They need reconstruction. Ever see a team four seasons into the same general manager that has this many needs?
But it’s a great deal for Gruden. Eat your heart out, Bill Belichick. The Raiders want relevancy. Gruden is instant relevancy. He’ll be on every billboard on the Strip before you know it. He’s the perfect headliner, a one-man Rat Pack.
Meanwhile, the Bucs will be at the nickel slots.
It doesn’t matter that the return of Chucky was the last thing the Bucs needed. Who applies logic to their jungle fears? Jon Gruden is out of his cave, and now it gets dicey. Bucs fans gets to worry that he doesn’t make the Bucs look bad, as if the Bucs could ever look bad. I mean, five wins. Count ‘em!
Will Jonny Vegas come back to haunt the Bucs with a Lombardi Trophy?
Place your bets.
Contact Martin Fennelly at [email protected] or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly