(Editor’s note: ESPN’s Bob McClellan grew up in Central Florida, and his father bought six Buccaneers season tickets in 1976. His brother maintains four of them to this day.)
You can’t understand how much the New England Patriots quarterback coming to Tampa Bay means to a Bucs fan.
And by Bucs fan, I’m speaking to those of us who’ve had season tickets in our families since the franchise started in 1976. (We started in the west stands, about the goal line, six seats, six rows up on the aisle. Baseball Hall of Famer Al Lopez and his family were in the row in front of us. A quiet, sweet man.)
The Bucs haven’t fared well chasing big names. They were snubbed by Hall of Fame coaches Bill Parcells (twice) and Bill Cowher. A 2008 trade for Brett Favre fell through at the last minute. And for years players have wanted to do whatever they could to get out of Tampa. Bo Jackson famously never came, even after the Bucs chose him No. 1 overall.
The defense has had great players. Three of them — Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks — are already in Canton.
But the offense … my God, the offense. How best to explain the futility we have seen under center? Try this on:
Brady has been to 10 more Pro Bowls than all other Bucs quarterbacks. In the 44 seasons of the franchise.
Brady has been named to the Pro Bowl 14 times. Bucs quarterbacks have been named four times — one each for Jameis Winston, Trent Dilfer, Jeff Garcia and Brad Johnson.
Let’s have some more fun with numbers.
The four quarterbacks who have started the most games in Bucs history are Dilfer (76 starts), Vinny Testaverde (72), Winston (70) and Doug Williams (67). They made 284 starts. Brady has made 283.
TB12 has won 219. QBucs4 won 123 (Dilfer 38-38; Williams 33-33-1; Winston 28-42; Testaverde 24-48). Brady’s winning percentage is .774. The Bucs’ quartet was .433.
Brady has 541 touchdown passes and 179 interceptions. The QBucs4 (Williams, 73-73; Dilfer, 70-80; Testaverde, 77-112; Winston, 121-88) had 341 touchdown passes and 353 interceptions.
I had to read that a few times myself just to digest it without throwing up on my Derrick Brooks jersey. Tom Brady has 200 more touchdown passes in one fewer game than the QBucs4.
And you thought Winston threw interceptions at an alarming rate. He has the best TD-INT ratio of the QBucs4 by a country mile.
The first NFL game I went to was at Tampa Stadium. Steve Spurrier was the quarterback. The Bucs went on to go 0-14. Spurrier made 12 starts and had seven touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. It was the start of an alarming trend.
Brady has been in the league for 20 years. He never has had more interceptions than touchdown passes in a season. Never even close. In Tampa, we celebrated when a QB had more TDs than picks.
Here is a list of guys I saw play QB in person in Tampa, all of whom started games. You are totally forgiven if you don’t recall any. I wish I didn’t.
Without checking with ESPN’s Stats & Information group, I’m pretty sure the Bucs are the only team to start a Parnell and a Jeb at QB.
Williams was the quarterback I saw in person the most. Absolute cannon for an arm. Didn’t always know where it was going. Tough as nails. I was upset when the Bucs let him go.
Brady is the fifth Bucs quarterback who has won a Super Bowl in his career and the third who was the MVP in a Super Bowl. Only one — Johnson — won a championship while with the Bucs. Williams was a Super Bowl MVP for the Washington Redskins, and Steve Young was a Super Bowl MVP with the San Francisco 49ers. Dilfer was the starting QB for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
The success quarterbacks had once they had departed Tampa used to be a running joke. “Well, wonder how long before he wins a Super Bowl.”
The Bucs haven’t had the best track record in signing free agents, which possibly is tied to the franchise’s futility. They’ve had 26 double-digit losing seasons, including a streak of 12 in a row.
Johnson and Garcia are among their best free-agent signings. They hit big on defensive end Simeon Rice and wide receiver Vincent Jackson, for sure, but the most recent signing of those four was Jackson, and that was eight years ago. And Rice came when the Bucs already had one of the best defenses in the league, so that move made sense.
I can’t blame free agents for ignoring Tampa Bay. It has been mostly synonymous with futility. Money usually trumps everything, but given that, how do you not sign a difference-maker since 2012?
Now, the most successful postseason QB of all time is going to suit up in red and pewter. It’s really not something I gave much thought. I know the Bucs expressed interest, but the Bucs have expressed interest in a lot of guys over the years who chose other places. Feels like almost all of them, to be honest. It just seemed implausible.
I understood Brady to the Chargers. He grew up in California. And plenty of journalists were on the bandwagon for him to go to the West Coast.
I thought Tennessee made the most sense. It was the team that eliminated his from the playoffs in 2019. It has a run game the likes of which Brady has never seen, and a rookie wide receiver who had a 1,000-yard season. Moreover, it has a coach who was a longtime teammate of his and remains a friend in Mike Vrabel.
Brady has no ties of which I’m aware to Bucs coach Bruce Arians or offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. He doesn’t know receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin or tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. He never has spent significant time in Florida.
But here he is. TB in TB.
Welcome to your new pasture, GOAT. And thanks for coming.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio apologizes after comments that he doesn’t ‘see racism at all in NFL’
Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio said Wednesday that his remarks about racism and discrimination in the NFL were “wrong” and he apologized, saying in a statement, “I should have been more clear and I am sorry.”
Fangio, now in his second season with the Broncos, issued a statement early Wednesday afternoon:
“After reflecting on my comments yesterday and listening to the players this morning I realize what I said regarding racism and discrimination in the NFL was wrong. While I have never personally experienced those terrible things first-hand during my 33 years in the NFL, I understand many players, coaches and staff have different perspectives.
“I should have been more clear and I am sorry.
“I wanted to make the point yesterday that there is no color within the locker rooms I have been in or on the playing fields I have coached on. Unfortunately, we don’t live or work only within those confines. Outside of those lines — both in the NFL and in society — there is a lot of work to be done in the areas of diversity and providing opportunities across the board for minorities.
“As the head coach, I look forward to listening to the players — both individually and collectively — to support them and work hand-in-hand to create meaningful change.”
Fangio held a 16-minute session with local media Tuesday that covered a variety of topics, including his outrage at George Floyd’s death in police custody and his support for his players’ involvement in social justice protests. He singled out safety Justin Simmons as a “great person, a great leader” and quarterback Drew Lock‘s offseason progress.
But Fangio was also asked a question about whether, in his more than three decades in the NFL, he thought players’ activism had increased given current events.
To that, his answer included: “I think our problems in the NFL along those lines are minimal. We’re a league of meritocracy — you earn what you get, you get what you earn. I don’t see racism at all in the NFL, I don’t see discrimination in the NFL — we all live together, joined as one, for one common goal, and we all intermingle and mix tremendously.”
Fangio has publicly supported the Rooney Rule in the past, which is designed to help increase the number of minority candidates interviewed for head coaching or senior football operation positions. The league is trying to expand the rule’s scope, but his “no racism” and “no discrimination” comments did draw reaction both Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
Fangio spoke to Broncos players Wednesday, and many with the team said the give-and-take was honest and helpful.
On Tuesday, Fangio said he supported the idea of the team’s players participating in local demonstrations.
“I think peaceful, constructive protests are good. If they feel like they need to play a part in that, I’m all for it,” he said.
Regarding Simmons, he said: “I thought it was great, Justin is a great person, a great leader, got his head screwed on correctly. He sees the problems and how they need to be solved. He’s searching for solutions and it’s easy for everybody to identify the problems. … We need to search for solutions, and I think Justin is one of those guys who will find solutions.”
Broncos CEO Joe Ellis had a virtual meeting with players and coaches Tuesday about what the team could do, and what the players wanted to do, moving forward in social justice initiatives.
Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson opens up on personal experiences with racism
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson did not want to talk about football during a video conference call with reporters on Wednesday, saying “none of that matters” compared to “life and what the black community is going through right now.”
“When you think about the idea of Black Lives Matter, they do matter,” Wilson said, speaking from his offseason home in Southern California. “The reality is that me as a black person, people are getting murdered on the street, people are getting shot down, and the understanding that it’s not like that for every other race. It’s like that in particular for the black community. I think about my stepson, I think about my daughter, I think about our new baby boy on the way, and it’s staggering to watch these things happen right in front of our faces, so I have a heavy heart right now.”
Wilson’s voice at times appeared to quiver as he spoke for over 30 minutes in his first comments to reporters since George Floyd’s death while in police custody last week and the protests against police brutality it has sparked throughout the country. Floyd, a black man, was killed last week in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.
“Being black is a real thing in America,” Wilson said. “It’s a real thing in the sense of the history and the pain, even my own family personally.”
Wilson said his great-great grandparents were slaves and that he has always understood “that racism is real.” He recalled how, while growing up in Richmond, Virginia, his father would warn him to not put his hands in his pockets when he stepped out of his car at gas stations.
“You understand fully — especially now just turning 31 and having two kids and a third one on the way — you really understand the significance of what that means,” Wilson said. “And the fact that my dad even had to tell me that is a problem. And going to grocery store, the assumption that somebody may accuse you of stealing or something like that is a terrifying thought.”
Wilson was reminded of that time in his youth during an encounter at a restaurant in California in 2014, sometime after the Seahawks had won Super Bowl XLVIII. He was in line for breakfast when an older white man told him, “That’s not for you.”
“And I said, ‘Huh? Excuse me?’ I thought he was joking at first,” Wilson said. “My back was kind of turned. I had just come off a Super Bowl and everything else, so if somebody is talking to me that way, you think about [a different] circumstance and how people talk to you. In that moment, I really went back to being young and not putting my hands in my pocket and that experience. That was a heavy moment for me right there. I was like, man, this is really still real, and I’m on the West Coast. This is really real right now.
“That really pained my heart. But in the midst of that, what I understood was — and [what] my dad always taught me was — to not lash back out in that moment because then it becomes something that’s hard to deal with. So I said, ‘Excuse me, sir, but I don’t appreciate you speaking to me that way.’ He just kind of walked off. But in that little glimpse, even though it didn’t turn into something, what if it did? That’s the sad part about this, what we’re talking about.”
Wilson called it “a shame” that people aren’t being allowed to peacefully protest and spoke about the need for change and police reform.
“Not every police officer is bad by any means, but the reality is I think there needs to be a process of … the background checks and checking on these people and constantly, not just the first time they get hired but also throughout the whole process as they’re working too as well,” he said. “I think there’s so much there that needs to be changed.”
Drew Brees’ teammate, Malcolm Jenkins, among many stars to speak out against quarterback’s controversial comments
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees attracted backlash Wednesday across the sports world, including an outspoken teammate, when he reiterated his stance on how he will “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America” during an interview with Yahoo Finance.
An emotional Malcolm Jenkins, in a video that has since been deleted from social media, said he was “hurt” by Brees’ comments and that they were “extremely self-centered.” The Yahoo interview featured Brees’ first comments in the wake of George Floyd’s killing last week.
“Our communities are under siege and we need help,” Jenkins said in one of the videos on Instagram. “And what you’re telling us is don’t ask for help that way, ask for it a different way. I can’t listen to it when you ask that way. We’re done asking, Drew. And people who share your sentiments, who express those, and push them throughout the world, the airwaves, are the problem.
“And it’s unfortunate because I considered you a friend. I looked up to you. You’re somebody who I had a great deal of respect for. But sometimes you should shut the f— up.”
Jenkins, a safety who agreed to a four-year deal with the Saints in March, later clarified his decision to take down the initial video.
“I recorded a few videos when thinking of how to respond to Drew Brees, I don’t take any of it back-I meant what I said-I removed the 1st video because I knew it be more about the headlines,” he wrote. “I want people to understand how those of us struggling with what’s going on feel.”
Jenkins, who also appeared on CNN on Wednesday, was not alone in sharing his thoughts. Brees’ remarks on the flag drew a sharp rebuke on social media from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, among other NFL players, as well as from Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.
Rodgers also posted on Instagram, seguing off a photo of he and his teammates interlocked during a national anthem, saying “a few years ago we were criticized for locking arms in solidarity before the game. It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag. Not then. Not now. Listen with an open heart, let’s educate ourselves, and then turn word and thought into action.”
Sherman took to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, saying Brees was “beyond lost.”
“Guarantee you there were black men fighting along side your grandfather but this doesn’t seem to be about that,” Sherman wrote. “That uncomfortable conversation you are trying to avoid by injecting military into a conversation about brutality and equality is part of the problem.”
Brees gave a lengthy response to ESPN when asked about the perceived conflict between his stances — including a potential divide in his locker room, where players like Jenkins and Demario Davis are among the leaders of the players’ coalition seeking social justice and racial equality.
“I love and respect my teammates, and I stand right there with them in regards to fighting for racial equality and justice,” Brees said. “I also stand with my grandfathers who risked their lives for this country and countless other military men and women who do it on a daily basis.”
How can you be in the locker rooms, speaking to the players, know the reasoning, and yet still be dumb enough to believe it’s about the flag. Like HOW???? He should know better than that. He just doesn’t care. Damn man not Drew…
— Damon Harrison Sr. (@snacks) June 3, 2020
Former Lions defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison, still a free agent as the season nears, said on Twitter that a veteran of Brees’ caliber should have known better.
“How can you be in the locker rooms, speaking to the players, know the reasoning, and yet still be dumb enough to believe it’s about the flag,” he wrote. “Like HOW???? He should know better than that. He just doesn’t care. Damn man not Drew …”
WOW MAN!! 🤦🏾♂️. Is it still surprising at this point. Sure isn’t! You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of 🇺🇸 and our soldiers(men and women) who keep our land free. My father-in-law was one of those https://t.co/pvUWPmh4s8
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 3, 2020
men who fought as well for this country. I asked him question about it and thank him all the time for his commitement. He never found Kap peaceful protest offensive because he and I both know what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong! God bless you. 🙏🏾✊🏾👑
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 3, 2020
James also responded on Twitter, saying kneeling during the national anthem has “nothing to do with the disrespect of [the United States flag] and our soldiers.”
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