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Teammates knew Johnson wanted out

TAMPA, Fla. -- When Keyshawn Johnson spouted, some of his
teammates listened and others tuned him out.

"Me being a veteran, I can let one thing go in one ear and out
the other. Some people can't," Tampa Bay receiver Keenan McCardell
said.

"Some people need to vent their emotions. When you're losing,
you can't do that. ... I really think he just needed to get some
things off his chest."

McCardell, like many of the other Buccaneers, were only mildly
surprised when the Super Bowl champions decided Tuesday to
deactivate Johnson for the remainder of the season.

The two-time Pro Bowl selection likely will be traded or
released next year.

"I don't want to make it seem like it was a distraction. It
wasn't like he was around here being a jerk all the time," safety
John Lynch said. "That's not his personality. He was here -- he
showed up -- he was working. But it just was clear that he didn't
want to be here. That affects the karma in the locker room. That
affects everything."

The defending champs began life without their star receiver on
Wednesday, holding team meetings in the morning and a two-hour
practice in the afternoon in preparation for Monday night's game
against the New York Giants.

Johnson's name remained on a locker full of his equipment,
however the Bucs clearly are trying to move on.

"Obviously, people are going to have their opinions about it,
but at this point it doesn't matter," linebacker Derrick Brooks
said. "You've got to get your focus back on the field and worry
about the things that are important to this football team and that
is preparing to get a win."

Johnson was unhappy with his role in Gruden's offense and let
the coach and general manager Rich McKay know that he didn't wish
to remain in Tampa Bay beyond this season. Although he vowed to
continue to play hard, McKay said the eight-year pro's attitude
changed and eventually became disruptive.

Gruden and McKay denied they were trying to make an example of
Johnson or send a message to the rest of the team, which is stuck
in a three-game losing streak and in danger of missing the
playoffs.

"It sends a message to Keyshawn, obviously. I don't know what
it does for the rest of the team," cornerback Ronde Barber said.

"I don't know if we look at this as a spark. I think we need to
spark ourselves. I think we need to realize the gravity of our
situation right now. We're 4-6 and a loss or so away from playing
spoiler roles for the rest of the year. That's enough of a
motivating factor, I think."

While no one questioned Johnson's effort on the field, several
players agreed with Barber's assessment that management could not
allow anything -- or anybody -- to become a negative influence in the
locker room.

McKay and Gruden said Johnson missed several mandatory workouts
and meetings, an allegation the receiver denied.

"I think with everything that takes place you have to buy into
the team. You have to buy into things that are said and told to
you," quarterback Brad Johnson said. "Obviously, there were some
things that took place between management and Keyshawn that they
didn't agree upon, and management made the choice for themselves."

Added Lynch: "I think he wanted to be a good team guy and
continue to put forth the effort. But one of the things that makes
this such a great game is that if your heart's not in it, it
doesn't work. And I think ultimately, that manifested itself in
different ways, and this is probably best for both sides and we
move on."

Joe Jurevicius, who's missed most of this season with a knee
injury, will move into Johnson's spot in the lineup opposite
McCardell, who's having one of the best seasons of his career.

Reggie Barlow, Karl Williams and Charles Lee also could get more
playing time.

"It's a team game. It's not just on me. It's not on them,"
said McCardell, who has 49 receptions for 748 yards and seven
touchdowns. "It's everybody on this offense."