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Column: McKay puts the power play on ‘The Tuna,’ Glazers

As the NFL finished its weekend of blowouts, flurries and continual spanking of Raiders’ owner Al Davis, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers highlighted the start of the weekend by failing to fill in the blank with the name of the franchise’s new head coach.But before you start cursing Bill Parcells and his crew of understudies across the league, take a look at the timeline of events last week, and you will find your answer to why the Bucs brain-trust remains dumbfounded.

Monday, the Glazer brothers kicked off their campaign as the new Farrelly Brothers with the imminent firing of Tony Dungy, assuming the “Big Tuna” was going to make everything OK and have them come out of it smelling like roses.

What dumb and dumber didn’t realize was that Bucs General Manager Rich McKay needed to be let go along with Dungy in order for the door to be opened for Parcells, not given the team president role, as well.

It is baffling to think Parcells would come into the Bucs’ organization and not want total control.

So when New York Jets General Manager Michael Tannenbaum came to town on Tuesday to interview for the Bucs’ general manager position, what were the Glazers thinking when they allowed McKay to join in on dinner?

I’m sure McKay was all set to hire Tannenbaum for his job … C’mon, I think I smell a nomination for the Munson of the Year Award.

Now look at the Bucs. Once again, they’re being labeled the laughing stock of the NFL, and who can blame the label. Even the expansion Houston Texans at least know who their head coach is going to be next year.

After staying in Tampa for a couple of days, Tannenbaum went back to his old job on Friday, which is general manager for the Jets, to start figuring out how he can maneuver the Jets out of being $14 million over the NFL salary cap.

But the public was unaware of what was going on inside the mind of McKay. Since he’s been in town, the Bucs haven’t seemed to have any problems staying under the cap despite all the big-name contracts.

Friday night the news broke that Parcells would not be the Bucs new head coach. The only one who realized this right from the get-go was McKay. He had the Glazers fooled all along into believing he was too valuable to be let go, just in case Parcells was to leave them hanging after a couple of seasons.

What the fools didn’t realize was that by keeping McKay aboard, they forced Parcells to leave them hanging immediately.But before you crawl into your little cubbyhole and assume the Testaverde/Young/Chandler/Erickson/Weldon/Dilfer/King/ and more recently – Johnson – fetal position, realize this … at least McKay is smarter than the owners, and on top of that, he outsmarted Parcells and his crew.

Now, due to McKay’s genius mind, the Bucs may have the inside shot at Raider head coach Jon Gruden, who has said he will not coach for Oakland in 2003.

Bringing in Gruden to work out the offensive kinks and being able to retain defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin gives the Bucs a sense of stability going into next year rather than a complete roster and mind-set shake-up that would occur if Parcells had arrived.

So the ball is in Davis’ court, and he now has the option to either A) trade Gruden and receive players and/or draft picks for him now, or B) force Gruden to coach the last year of his contract in 2002 and then receive nothing for him.

Believe me, Davis has been accused of being many things by the NFL and the media, but one thing he hasn’t been accused of is stupidity. He is going to make sure his team gets the most out of Gruden, and at this point it looks like his best option may be to trade him for compensation rather than face an entire season of media scrutiny (just ask Dungy how that feels).

So keep your bandwagoneer flags on your cars and fly ’em high, because with McKay in charge of player personnel the Bucs shall remain competitive, and if by chance Gruden comes to town the team may have an offensive game plan that consists of more than three plays.

The only other option for head coach would be to promote Monte Kiffin on an interim basis. This way the franchise can hang onto him rather than losing him to Dungy as an assistant in Indianapolis.

It’s those two options, or the Bucs are stuck with something drastic in Marty Schottenheimer (the epitome of Dungy-Ball) or Norv Turner (although I would not mind him as an offensive coordinator). Either of those nuts comes to town and I’m calling for a Wayne Fontes sighting … seriously.

For now, dumb and dumber have downgraded the Bucs from Grade-A seared ‘Tuna’ to BumbleBee tuna, with McKay being the only thing saving the franchise from being eaten by the black cats of Bucco Bruce past.

No matter what fish the Bucs land as head coach, at least the comedy will not end – ‘The Great Gazoo’ Gramatica is locked up for seven more years.

  • Contact Chris Lemke at