Shaun King was a second-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1999. He had a six-year NFL career that included stops with the Cardinals, Lions and Colts, and won a Super Bowl championship as a backup quarterback with Tampa Bay in 2002. King coached running backs and quarterbacks at South Florida for four years and has now joined VSiN to co-host a sports betting show called ‘The Night Cap.’ Compare.bet recently caught up with King to talk about his former team, former coach Jon Gruden and Tom Brady.
How did the opportunity to host The Night Cap come about?
I went on The Night Cap (as a guest) and they loved it. They were like, ‘What are you doing now?’ I’m like, ‘Well, I’m in coaching, and I’m trying to find the right fit from a coaching-job standpoint, but let’s talk.’ So it ended up, ‘Do you want to move to Vegas full-time?’ That’s kind of how it went.
What’s unique about the show?
I was like, we can’t just talk numbers for three hours. I want it to be about life, have it be entertaining. I want to have fun, and I’ve really gotten the opportunity to do that and still be sports-betting-centric. I really want people to continue to tune in. The numbers are great but I want to do better, because I think we’re a breath of fresh air for that space. They get the really handsome Shaun King and the kinda-handsome Sean Murray, and we’ll make their life better.
#ICYMI last night on #TheNightCap @realshaunking gave his thoughts on his alma mater Tulane's performance in Week 1 vs Oklahoma, as the Green Wave almost pulled off the mega upset.@1TimMurray pic.twitter.com/6RRBCHcMqF
— VSiN (@VSiNLive) September 8, 2021
Is it surprising to see sports betting become mainstream?
It’s pretty shocking. When I first signed with ESPN — I want to say it was about 2008 if I’m not mistaken — it was such a taboo topic. You couldn’t talk about the spread, the betting lines. It was a weird little deal. And to see ESPN have a gambling show now; to see the Cardinals putting a betting kiosk into their stadium; it’s like, ‘Alright, cool. We’re actually really living in America.’ Because my argument back then was like, ‘Is sports betting illegal?’ We got so much pushback, but now it’s cool. The thing I love about it is, it brings untraditional eyes to the sport. There will be people that may not be huge football fans that like the excitement of gambling. Now they have a little more vested interest in following it, and then they turn into a hardcore fan.
What was it like to see the Bucs win the Super Bowl last year? You probably have a different perspective after playing for them and also growing up in St. Petersburg.
It was great, man. I rooted for the Bucs growing up. My dad was a baptist minister and I used to sneak out of church when the Bucs played on the road, so I could watch them play, because all the home games were blacked out. People forget that after we won the Super Bowl in 2002, we went to the playoffs twice from 2002 to 2019. It’s not like we’ve been this beacon of success. We’ve been like a catfish, a bottom-dweller type of franchise over 17, 18 years. So to get someone like Tom Brady to figure out how to win a championship amongst all of that chaos, I think that’s pretty special. And we have an opportunity to defend it. The city is on Cloud 9. The Lightning won back-to-back Stanley Cups. The Rays went to the World Series.
What are the Bucs’ chances of repeating?
I have a futures bet at +850, and I think that’s a good wager. The part that’s hard, they’ve already done, and that’s showing up with the most talented team every week. It’s hard to do that in that league, with the amount of parity that exists. To put together a roster that looks like theirs, and to have an environment and an organization where all of those guys wanted to come back, and some are taking less money, that’s a feather in the cap of the Glazers and a feather in the cap of Bruce Arians. They’ve created a culture and an environment where guys are like, ‘OK, I’m going to stay here. I love living in Tampa, I love playing for Bruce, and I love working for the Glazers.’ Players talk, and with that kind of messaging, when free agency hits, guys are like, ‘I want to be in Tampa.’ You see it a lot in basketball. You don’t see it as much in football, but this could be the start of something.
— NFL (@NFL) September 8, 2021
You and Tom Brady are both 44. What would you say if someone asked you to take an NFL field right now?
Comparing me to Tom? Jeez. He’s a special person, a special player. His success is unparalleled. What does he have, seven rings? Nobody’s catching that. Six of them with one team and he’s left in the trash heap, put in the assisted living facility. Then he gets a chance to go somewhere and win it the next year? He’s had a movie-type career. They’re going to make a movie about Tom Brady. What he’s done is unfathomable. I don’t let people compare anybody to him, because he’s a unicorn. No starting quarterback is going to win anything close to seven championships. It’s not going to happen.
Can Patrick Mahomes get close?
Not even close. No chance. He’s got one. There’s no way he’s getting six more. I don’t even like him to win the Super Bowl this year. I think Buffalo and Tennessee are right there. I think Cleveland is right there. For someone to go on that type of run, it’s going to be almost impossible. Now, you may get someone that’s a Robert Horry type that bounces from team to team. A good player, but not the focal player. But a starting quarterback? That’s not happening.
You played for Jon Gruden in Tampa. What was it like having him as your coach?
It was awesome, man. Gruden is a high-energy guy. Super competitive. He’s an alpha-male, and sometimes there is going to be friction. It’s why a wolfpack only has one alpha male. Everybody else is submissive. When you’re in the NFL, it’s a violent, physical game, and that’s the cream of the crop. You’re going to have run-ins and disagreements, and some people aren’t going to back down. That’s why Keyshawn Johnson under Gruden gets sent home midseason. Things are going to happen. But you appreciate a guy who believes in himself and the vision he has. We won a championship with him, and he’ll eventually get this Raider thing headed in the right direction. He’s going to work his butt off.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) September 8, 2021
What do they need to do to reach the playoffs?
Get better players. As much as I root for Jon, I think if he could do it over again, he’d never get rid of Khalil Mack and he’d never get rid of Amari Cooper. I don’t care what your salary cap situation is. I don’t think you can afford to get rid of transcendent talent. You get creative with the money in other areas, because they still haven’t gotten a defender better than Khalil Mack and they still haven’t gotten an offensive player better than Amari Cooper. I think he learned that the hard way, and now they’re trying to rebuild it. We’ll see.
What’s your favorite story from your time with Gruden in Tampa?
We always butted heads. I was full of vinegar and he was full of vinegar. I thought I should be playing and he thought I should be holding the clipboard. We were always taking little shots, but in hindsight, I look back and ask, ‘What role did I play in the relationship not being as healthy as it could be?’ I would change some things. I’m not saying I was without fault in those situations. It’s a gift and a curse sometimes, that competitiveness and self-belief, that ideology that I’m the guy. That’s what it takes to make it at that level. But you mature and learn. I’m here in Vegas now and I’m his biggest fan. I’m always going to be a Buc at heart, but when in Rome, do what the Romans do, so I’ll pull for the Las Vegas Raiders to get this thing going and at least be in playoff contention.