BUCS COACH Jon Gruden learned football from his father, Jim, a longtime NFL scout, and likes to bring in guys with NFL genes. As Gruden told The Tampa Tribune, "there are no surprises for them.... They learned about mental toughness and resiliency and what it takes to succeed." In addition to Chris Simms, son of ex-QB and current CBS broadcaster Phil, four other Bucs have NFL dads.
BRIAN GRIESE, QB, eighth year Dad BOB GRIESE, QB, Dolphins '67-80
"My father always said, 'Don't expect to make a living doing what I did,' which kept the pressure off," says Brian of Bob. "He would have been just as happy if I played the violin." The elder Griese, who won two Super Bowls, is still low key. "He'll call after a game to see how my psyche is and make sure my bones are still attached," says Brian, "but never to judge my play."
RYAN NECE, LB, fourth year Dad RONNIE LOTT, DB, 49ers '81-90, Raiders '91-92, Jets '93-94
Ronnie Lott won four titles, is in the Hall of Fame, and "his message to me is to exhaust every moment, big or small," says Nece, who was given his Mom's surname to limit comparisons with his father. His warrior dad's football advice? "On the field you have no friends. It's not about being the nice guy or what you do in the community. It's about you and your opponent."
BARRETT RUUD, LB, rookie Dad TOM RUUD, LB, Bills '75-77, Bengals '78-79
"He taught me to always stay an extra half hour to lift more weights or watch more film," says Barrett. "Even if it's not helping that much, you think it is, and you've given yourself an edge." Both Ruuds played at Nebraska, and their twice-weekly phone talks are now more about the Big 12 than the Bucs. Says Barrett, "My brother Bo plays for the Huskers, so that takes priority."
ALEX SMITH, TE, rookie Dad EDWIN SMITH, DE, Broncos '73-76
From his father, Alex heard about little tricks--"To keep warm, he put Vaseline on his feet and wrapped plastic bags over them before putting on his cleats"--and big values. "He reminds me to not get full of myself and to do what got me here," says Alex. "He saw guys get successful, lose their humbleness and start slacking because they took things for granted. It hurt them."