ESPN analyst, ex-Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden joins Bucs' Ring of Honor

TAMPA, Fla. -- Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach and current ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden was inducted into the Buccaneer Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony of the Bucs' Week 15 game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Gruden took to the field for a special presentation during which his name was unveiled in the northeast corner of Raymond James Stadium, along with fireworks.

"This is the greatest individual honor that I've ever had in my life," said Gruden, who was joined by his family and 60 former players, as well as fellow Buccaneer Ring of Honor members Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, Mike Alstott, Jimmie Giles and Doug Williams. Earlier this season, the Bucs inducted late owner Malcolm Glazer, who purchased the team in 1995.

The highlight of the ceremony was Gruden leading his 2002 Super Bowl team to the north end zone for one final play -- a re-enactment of Alstott's 2-yard touchdown run in the Bucs' 41-28 win over the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII -- which drew thunderous applause.

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch, who was inducted into the ring of honor last year as was part of that Super Bowl team, told ESPN, "I am extremely proud to have [Jon] join me, along with my teammates and the other great players who have proudly represented the franchise throughout the years. Who can ever forget Super Bowl XXXVII in his first season? He challenged us to be great, and that year we were. No one can ever take that away from us. Coach was a huge part of that, and I wish I would have been able to be in Tampa to celebrate this wonderful honor with him."

Washington Redskins offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who worked with Gruden in Philadelphia and Oakland before Gruden was traded to the Bucs in 2002, said, "He advanced the game. His football mind went beyond the boundaries. He stretched himself mentally to be able to look at the game differently. He's a big reason why I'm in pro football. I owe a lot to him. He took me on when I was a college coach in 1995, so he's had a long lasting impact on me, and really an impact on how I approach the game and how I teach the game today."

Callahan added, "It's a real credit to his dedication and to his perseverance and to his character. You can't find a greater person or a better person to be in that ring of honor."

Sean McVay, who has led the Los Angeles Rams to a 10-4 record in his first year as head coach, also got his start with Gruden when he was an assistant with the Bucs in 2008.

"He's one of my biggest mentors," McVay said. "I think in terms of some of the things that we feel like here embody a great coach, that's exactly what he possesses. He's a great communicator, great teacher, motivator, builds and develops relationships with guys, and he really has a great understanding of the game. So really all the important and characteristics that you look for in a coach, Coach Gruden possesses. ... He's a special coach, and [I'm] very happy for him."

Quarterback Brad Johnson said, "It's awesome. It's awesome for him and his family, for all the guys that played for him and for what he [brought to Tampa], obviously winning a Super Bowl -- that's what makes it happen. What he's done for the game, his TV show with the quarterbacks, Monday Night Football -- he's been a bridge for a lot the fans to really kind of enjoy watching the game, for the coaches who watch his show. For him to be in the ring of honor -- he's very deserving."

Monday Night Football producer Jay Rothman said Gruden has become not only a close colleague but a close friend and a brother.

"We love him," Rothman said. "While he's not a coach in the NFL, he's our coach. He coaches us up as hard as he coached up his players in Tampa, in Oakland, in Philly, in Green Bay and all the stops that he's been to. ... We're so incredibly proud of him."

ESPN Rams writer Alden Gonzalez contributed to this report.