FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 5, 2000
BUCCANEERS LT PAUL GRUBER ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced today that LT Paul Gruber will retire after 12 seasons in the National Football League.
Gruber, the Buccaneers' most decorated offensive lineman and one of the most dependable starters in the NFL since he entered the league in 1988, owns club records for most games played and started (183 each), as well as most continuous seasons of service (12). He missed just nine regular-season games in 12 seasons.
"Paul Gruber has enjoyed a wonderful NFL career," Buccaneers owner/president Malcolm Glazer said. "He has been the consummate professional, a loyal soldier, and a true humanitarian off the field through his outstanding work with Metropolitan Ministries. I know I speak for all the members of this organization when I say that Paul will be missed. He will always be a part of the Buccaneers family. We wish he and his family good health and success as Paul begins his post-NFL career."
Gruber's numerous accolades during his stellar career with the Buccaneers included being named a two-time MVP (Tampa Sports Club, 1992; local media, 1994), a Pro Bowl alternate in 1997, Associated Press second-team All-Pro in 1992 and a two-time All-NFC selection (Football News, 1989; UPI, 1990).
"It was remarkable to get an opportunity to watch, coach and be around a player like Paul for the last four years," Buccaneers head coach Tony Dungy said. "He exhibited such outstanding leadership qualities, and had an awesome career. He was a consistent force in the lineup, and you could always count on him as an integral part of the game plan. Paul has been a pleasure to coach and a joy to have around."
Last season, Gruber was instrumental in leading the Buccaneers to their first division title in 18 years, starting all 16 games for the 10th time in 12 seasons. He became one of only 17 active players to play in three decades after he started the regular-season finale against the Chicago Bears on January 2, 2000. It was in that contest against the Bears that Gruber played his final game when he fractured his right tibia in the third quarter.
A fixture at LT, Gruber enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 1997, evidenced by his selection as first alternate on the NFC Pro Bowl squad. Gruber paved the way for an offensive unit that finished the season with 1,934 rushing yards, the third highest total in team history and the most since 1979 (2,437). He was a vital component of a blocking unit that surrendered the fifth-lowest number of quarterback sacks in a 16-game season (32) and enabled the Buccaneer running game to record nine 100-yard plus rushing days, including a pair of 200-yard plus performances.
As a rookie in 1988, Gruber opened his career with a remarkable string of 4,850 consecutive snaps (1988-92). He also played the entire 1989 season without a holding penalty.
A first round draft pick (4th overall, 1st offensive lineman selected) in 1988 out of Wisconsin, Gruber enjoyed a four-year standout career, starting 32 of 33 games in his last three seasons. As a senior co-captain, Gruber earned first-team All-America honors by The Sporting News and was an All-Big Ten selection. He graduated with a bachelor's of arts degree in communications.
Gruber and his wife, Brenda, are actively involved with numerous Bay area charities, including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Metropolitan Ministries and Athletes in Action. The Grubers reside in Tampa with their three children: sons Blake (6/4/89) and Chase (1/3/91) and daughter Ashlyn (7/20/94).
The Buccaneers will honor Gruber during halftime festivities at a home game later this season.