Buccaneers’ history of purging some of its greatest employees

By jawarrener  |   Wednesday, November 04, 2009  |  Comments( 1 )

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Let me take a breath before I dive into this...I am not one to pin this on anyone and I wouldn’t were it not for the glaring translucence of it. The Buccaneers organization has and still is systematically and intentionally trying to destroy the credibility of black athletes and coaches. It’s hard to say. They are my home team and I love them regardless of the injury they’ve caused me and regardless of perpetual ownership that seems bent on ruining it. I am reading this article in the local media with the headline, “Bucs’ Morris downplays report of confrontation with Talib.”, and it’s not something unheard of a player mouthing off to a coach but it’s indicative of a bigger picture that becomes painfully clear when you look at the pattern. Hugh Culverhouse ran the Buc organization from its inception and while I give him props for keeping Lee Roy Selmon around, he basically ran Doug Williams out of town. Doug, of course went on to win, toss for over 300 yards and four touchdowns, and get named MVP of a Super Bowl. The Bucs didn’t sniff the playoffs for fourteen years.

Until? When? They hire a black head coach. Ownership switched hands and the new owners did everything they could shake the old image of the Bucs. They ditched the old unis, brought in a new coach, new coordinators, they even got the taxpayers of the bay area to pony up for a new stadium. There was nothing wrong with the old stadium, maybe it didn’t have enough luxury boxes. It had an intimacy, even when you were on the top row, a vibe even the 200 level at Raymond James fails to deliver. Heck, the 300 level feels like you’re watching the game from a blimp. I digress. The new owners wanted legitimacy and made the one right move they’ve made their whole tenure, hire Tony Dungy. Dungy immediately turned the ship around. His second year they made the playoffs. He drafted the Rookie of the Year. Dungy began to bring in players that had both talent and character, black players that had both talent and character. This must have shattered some preconceptions of the current regime because they then proceeded to purge any black man on the team that could be construed as a quality role model. First, Warrick Dunn got chased out of town. This is a guy that lost his mother when he was in high school and helped carry his family through times most of us have no concept of. This is after he immersed himself in the community and began setting up families in their first homes. His foundation still exists and operates today and has helped 86 families realize their humble dreams. That’s not to mention the guy has rushed for over ten thousand yards and has a career rushing average of 4.1 per carry. Next, it was Dungy’s turn. Despite having only one losing season (his first), making the playoffs four of his six years, reaching the NFC Championship one year, building one of the best defenses of all time, and single-handedly bringing legitimacy to the franchise, Dungy was chased out of town. Not even given the decency to tell him before they broke it to the press. This was the beginning of the end. They felt like they had given the minority guy a chance and it was time to move on to the big, white-haired coach. See, they’d always known that blacks were sub-par to their idyllic misconception of a white-haired coach. Well, it blew up in their faces. They made the big power play for Parcells and they whiffed. Parcells could tell what was going on in Tampa. He sat out one more year and got the Dallas Cowboys. The owners were in panic mode. They scrambled to find a new coach, someone respectable, someone that would make this debacle a little less complete. Luckily, there was someone on the market. There wasn’t but after they sold their souls to Al Davis they pried Jon Gruden away from Oakland. This certainly contributed to their downfall (they didn’t have any draft picks for two years) but it was their prejudice, conscious or subconscious that was their ultimate undoing.

“Okay, we run Dungy out of town, what next? I know! Let’s bring in the biggest jerk of a player we can find and pay him all the rest of our money.” It is no coincidence that this player was black. Keyshawn Johnson may have settled down in his old age but when he was a player he was the worst role model you could imagine. He was the most selfish player I had ever seen and his behavior was that of a spoiled twelve-year-old. I remember one year, him trying to get Gruden’s attention on the sideline, during a game: Gruden was busy calling a play and thus ignored him, Keyshawn grabbed him by the arm and spun him around to face him. I really do not know how Gruden did not punch him in his face on the spot. I was even more shocked when I saw that there was to be no disciplinary action. He would much later get de-activated. Gruden didn’t turn out to be the Cinderella that the owners hoped. He squeaked into the playoff a couple of times after he rode Dungy’s team to the Super Bowl. Other seasons he had dreadful sub-.500 seasons, including last year’s total collapse. But it was Keyshawn’s behavior and the owners’ disregard for character that it began to snowball. They also neglected to keep most of Dungy’s black staff members. Herm Edwards went on to a head-coaching job. Lovie Smith went on to bring his team to a Super Bowl. Dungy and Tomlin went on to win Super Bowls with their respective teams. And the one guy they kept was Kiffin.

They brought Dunn back only to cut him a year later, a year after he led the team in rushing. Then the bomb hit. They cut Derrick Brooks. The heart and soul of the team. The face of the franchise. A future Hall of Famer whose charitable work and character are second to none in the league. One could say without much dissent that he is the best player to wear a Buccaneer uniform. And one could say that he is one of the best role models the league has ever seen. The ownership thought they had been rid of all that but much to their dismay, Brooks was still there. So they did away with him and Gruden went along too. Now the allegations emerge again. Are the new owners pulling a Culverhouse? They had to do something. This time they were a little smarter about it. They had been at this for a few years now and they were savvy. I never said they were stupid or incompetent, just prejudiced and greedy. No, this time they wanted to dispel all the rumors. What did they do? They hired another black coach. The thought they had pulled the wool over our eyes this time. No, sir. They hire a 32-year-old coach with absolutely no head coaching experience and throw him into a purged team with a new defensive scheme, and arguably the toughest schedule in the league? They want him to fail. They expect him to fail. They want all the notions to be dispelled because next year, after the Bucs go 1-15, they can go after the big, white-haired coach. Well, Cower is still pushing color out of his thinning scalp, likewise is Billick but you see what I mean. There are at least three well-seasoned, white head coaches that will be back on the market next year. This year’s hiring of Raheem Morris is just a deception to get us to accept whoever they want to bring in next year.

Now the Talib incident means much more than it did earlier. Let’s face it, Talib is a good player but he has about as much character as a bowl of oatmeal. The guy has already been booked for punching out a cab driver. And I don’t know the details, did the cabbie fling a racial epithet at him, maybe, but even if he did, an NFL player has to be bigger than that. He has to be an example to people that will never know the details, only that he punched a cabbie, or his girlfriend, or an 130-pound man. Then the fact that Morris is so neutered that he cannot even discipline his awnry teenager is a product of all the past managerial decisions. He tries to play it off, he’s quoted in the article saying, “he’s never, ever disrespected me”. Well, the fact that you use “never” and “ever” in conjunction is a good indication that you’re lying. I bet Tom Cable “never, ever” punched an assistant in the face either. It’s a shame because I feel that in a few years, with good tutelage, Morris could become a good coach. However, he is caught in the game that the current regime thinks it’s getting away with. I apologize if I’ve offended anyone by using the words, “black”, and “blacks”, it’s simply easier than spelling out African-American every single time you need to say it. Plus African-American is so sterile. It’s like you’re talking about a species of deep ocean, jellyfish. No one runs around calling white people, “Albican Personae”.
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