No Regrets Between These Two Friends

From Associated Press

Steve Mariucci hasn't spent much time thinking about what might have been if he hadn't waffled on an offer to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year.

Friend and former colleague Jon Gruden wound up with the job, and their teams meet Sunday in an NFC divisional playoff game.

"It was interesting. It was flattering, you know, those sort of things," Mariucci said of the interest the sons of Tampa Bay owner Malcolm Glazer expressed in hiring him as coach and general manager 11 months ago.

Mariucci met with the Glazers for six hours at a Los Angeles hotel in February and agreed to consider their offer overnight.

But sensing the coach was reluctant to leave the 49ers, the Bucs called Oakland owner Al Davis and struck a deal to pry Gruden from the Raiders before Mariucci even had a chance to accept or reject Tampa Bay's offer.

The 49er coach said he has no regrets.

"They needed to do what was best for their team and their organization," Mariucci said. "I needed to do what was best for my team, this organization, my family, and those sort of things.

"It all worked out very well, I think, for everybody involved."

Gruden was Tampa Bay's first choice after Bill Parcells backed out of a contract he signed to replace Tony Dungy.

Besides the four seasons they spent working on opposite sides of the San Francisco Bay Area, Gruden and Mariucci also worked together from 1992-94 as assistants under Mike Holmgren in Green Bay.

They remain good friends, although Gruden said they have not discussed what transpired last winter.

"We never have brought that topic up," Gruden said. "I'm sure he's very excited to be where he is and I'm very excited to be where I am."

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