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News » Subplots bubbling for finale

Subplots bubbling for finale

Subplots bubbling for finale
ALAMEDA Rich Gannon, the Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last were in the same stadium the night Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks delivered a career-ending hit to Gannon in 2004.

Two seasons before, Brooks recorded one of five interceptions of Gannon in a 48-21 Tampa Bay rout of the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.

The Raiders haven't won more than five games in any of the six seasons since that Super Bowl loss. Gannon retired four seasons ago. And the Buccaneers and Brooks are back playing at a high level under coach Jon Gruden, while the Raiders operate under their fifth coach during that span.

On Sunday, Gannon will be in the broadcast booth for CBS-TV providing analysis of the Raiders-Buccaneers regular-season finale and making sense for the viewers of the numerous subplots that transcend the game itself.

The Buccaneers' motivation is obvious. They need a victory or a tie Sunday just to remain in contention for the second and final NFC playoff wild-card berth.

The Raiders already are eliminated from the AFC playoff picture. However, they stand to gain plenty from beating from the Buccaneers.

For one, the Buccaneers defense is run by Monte Kiffin, the father of fired Raiders coach Lane Kiffin.

Raiders left offensive tackle Mario Henderson said sticking it to Monte Kiffin would count for something in terms of paying back Lane Kiffin for the way he conducted himself during his one-plus year in Oakland.

"Anything to help the Raiders get back at the Kiffin family, I'm all for it," Henderson said.

Lane Kiffin was hired as the coach at the University of Tennessee less than a month ago. In turn, he hired his father to be his defensive coordinator. Lane Kiffin filed a grievance with the NFL seeking compensation for the remaining time on his Raiders contract.

Don't doubt for a second that Raiders managing general partner Al Davis wouldn't enjoy seeing his team prevent Kiffin's father from making the playoffs in his final NFL season.

"There's been a lot of talk about the Kiffins," Gruden said in a conference call with Bay Area media Wednesday. "Lane Kiffin, the former head coach of the Raiders, Monte Kiffin, leaving here to go to Tennessee. So, there are people going to be talking about that, more so than when I was there."

Gruden coached the Raiders from 1998-2001. Davis traded Gruden to the Buccaneers for two first-round and two second-round draft picks, as well as $8 million after the 2001 season.

The Raiders enjoyed success under Gruden. They won at least eight games in each of his four seasons, 38 of 64 overall, and qualified for the playoffs twice.

The Raiders went 11-5 and advanced to the Super Bowl the year after Gruden joined the Buccaneers. They are 23-72 since the Super Bowl.

Naturally, Davis remains bitter over Gruden forcing his hand. Therefore, he would take particular delight in ending Gruden's season in front of the Buccaneers' sold-out Raymond James Stadium.

For his part, Gruden said a lot of time has passed since his Raiders tenure. He now prefers to look back on his time there as a rewarding experience.

"There has been a lot of water going under the bridge "...," he said. "There seems to be some people that want to say that I had a bad experience there. I didn't have a bad experience there. I had a good experience there.

"We won a lot of games. We had a lot of good players, so I can't really comment on what's happened since I've been gone. It's been a long time."

Raiders coach Tom Cable also can bolster his case for remaining in that capacity beyond Sunday by leaving Tampa, Fla., with a second straight victory.

So much for this being a meaningless game to the Raiders.

Notes: Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (stinger), linebacker Ricky Brown (groin) and wide receiver Ronald Curry (toe) did not practice Wednesday. Asomugha is expected to practice today and play Sunday, Cable said. Curry and Brown likely won't play. "... The Raiders paid tribute to the Cal Football team Sunday for its success this season. The Raiders also passed on their best wishes to Cal for Saturday's Emerald Bowl against Miami in San Francisco.

Contact Steve Corkran at scorkran@bayareanewsgroup.com

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 25, 2008

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