September 24, 2006; Game Three; Tampa, Florida; Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Final Score – Carolina 26, Tampa Bay 24.
Those are the facts as listed in the records nearly two years after the fact. That’s it.
There is one thing that isn’t mentioned in the official stats – Damaged Organs – Carolina 0, Tampa Bay 1. That organ was a spleen belonging to Chris Simms, the fourth-year quarterback who had finally begun to get the opportunity to play for the Buccanneers.
Thanks to a vicious defensive effort by the Panthers’ defense, Simms suffered a ruptured spleen. The pictures from the game became hard to watch after it was revealed that Simms had received such a devastating injury. He had been taken to an area hospital where doctors, concerned for Simms’ health, performed an emergency surgery to save him.
Fast forward. June 2008.
Doctor Gruden, AKA Chucky, M.D., has spoken.
In an ESPN report, Simms has spoken up about his damaged relationship with Chucky.
“It is totally broken,” Simms said of his relationship with Gruden, the Tribune reported. “And it kills me to say that, because the Bucs have been great to me; the fans have been great to me … But the relationship between me and coach Gruden — it’s broken. It just is. And I don’t see any way it’s going to get better again.”
According to the report, Simms has asked the Bucs for a trade or his outright release. He said the reason the team gave him for not doing so has been “muddled.”
“I feel like I’m being held hostage,” Simms said, according to the Times. “I hate that all this has happened. I love Tampa. My family loves it here. But I’ve been quiet long enough. I feel like it’s time to let everybody know why I’m not out there.”
Something about Jon Gruden has always made me feel like he was one of those guys who would be nearly impossible to get along with anyway. It’s what he told this kid that makes me not just scratch my head but ask what the hell Gruden is/was thinking.
Simms said his relationship with Gruden began deteriorating last year during training camp. He alleged Gruden never acknowledged the seriousness of the injury, asked him if it was all in his mind, and put him into a preseason game when he had been given few practice reps.
“I was nowhere near ready to go [for the preseason game],” Simms said, according to the Tribune. “I don’t know what the reason was for having me out there. And for coach to say during camp that I was healthy and just wasn’t practicing well, that was a low blow.
“I mean, he never once sat down at any point with me and asked me what I was going through, how I felt, even as a person. That said a lot to me. That’s why I feel like I can never play for him again.”
The team declined to comment on Simms’ situation, the Tribune reported.
“I do believe that [Gruden] thought I might be faking it,” Simms said, according to the Tribune. “I mean, he asked me, ‘Is it in your head?’ For him to say that, that’s just not right. There are just a lot of things that I can never forgive him for.”
If that was you standing in Simms’ shoes, what would you have done? Wouldn’t the normal person have crawled across the desk to kick one John Gruden’s ass?
Here’s what sticks out like a sore thumb here (provided what Simms’ is saying is true) – Gruden can’t accept the doctors’ reports on Simms from September 2006 when they felt it was necessary to slice this kid open to repair a ruptured spleen. He thinks it’s possible that it’s just in Simms’ head. If that’s the case, then it must have just been in the doctors’ heads too.
Do you suppose that Gruden is a doctor? When did he receive his medical license? Perhaps he was handed a certified Psychiatry Hack Degree from the Dr. Phil School of Pretend Shrinkage.
We hear all the time that coaches want players to play through the pain, suck it up, play hurt, shoot it up and get your butt back on the field. That ankle isn’t really sprained. That knee isn’t really damaged. That spleen isn’t really ruptured.
What really bothers me is the attitude and the cavalier way in which he handled what was, minus emergency surgery, life threatening.
We keep hearing that John Fox is on the hot seat in Charlotte. Fine. No problem.
Jerry Richardson, do what you have to do. But I want to promise you one thing – make the mistake of ever hiring Jon Chucky, M.D. Gruden and I won’t attend the games. Further, I’ll be glad to become the thorn-in-the side blogger you’ll learn to hate in a short time.
Jon Gruden, you discredit your profession! You’re a disgrace. Done! Finished! Kaput! Buh-bye!