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Saturday, 4 a.m.
I love the fact that we have a PGA tour event here, but the quality of the field is always disappointing. Do you think it will ever be more than a second-rate tournament that the top pros routinely skip? What holds it back the most — lack of big time sponsorship, low prize money, poor attendance, quirky golf course that’s often not up to the usual ultra-plush PGA standards or all of the above?
Probably all of the above, Larry. Some tournaments are just constructed to be the average tournaments in between the big ones. They lack money and tradition.
It isn't a bad tournament. I've been a few times. But, no, it isn't the Masters or the British or even the PGA. I think it could be better, but again, it's never going to be known for what color jacket it gives the winner.
If this was a tournament that the top guys all played, one that they couldn't miss, it would help. But I remember asking Jimmy Connors once if the Miami tennis tournament could become a major. His response was to ask why we needed five majors?
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I don't think anyone has said "You know, the one tournament I'd like to win is the Valspar. Forget about the U.S. Open." I think the pros like that our tournament is a low-impact field. But the answer to your question is that it's all inter-related. The lack of big-time sponsorship leads to the low prize money, which leads to a lot of pros skipping it, which leads to poor attendance. I don't think the quirky golf course has that much to do with it.
To me, the PGA golf courses are all like paintings in a museum. They're all excellent. So what makes this one more famous than that one. I've seen the Mona Lisa. I didn't get it.
I think the Valspar is fine for what it is. Think of it as the Tampa Bay Rays of the golf circuit. It could be better, but it's baseball. Well, the Valspar could be better, but it's professional golf.
Do you think that trades like the Browns-Texans deal will become more popular in the NFL?
Maybe. Certainly, the money is getting larger, and teams are going to want to run from the contracts they have given. I thought the Browns-Texans sounded screwy at first, but if you think of salary cap room as an asset, why not trade that asset? If a team gets near the maximum, why not make a move for a little relief?
It's funny. In the end, it was two teams trying to run away from their own disappointments. Texas grew to hate the Osweiler contract as much as everyone else. Cleveland has cut so many high draft picks it had room. But that isn't uncommon, either. I can see, say, Dallas getting near the cap with it's young stars and making a deal with, say, Cincinnati to loosen the constraints a little.
I think Cleveland is screwy if it thinks it can flip Osweiler. He's overpaid and mediocre, and the only team that would take that contract on is, well, Cleveland. But a second-round draft pick isn't a small thing. Would you pay $16 million for a second-round pick? I think a lot of teams would.
Oh, it would be commonplace. But I think you'll see it again. Too many teams are giving too much money to average players (Mike Glennon, $15 million?) to think otherwise.
Let's say you are Jason Licht and when round three of the draft comes around, Joe Mixon is still available. Do you pick him? Do you recall any pro athletes who may have committed a violent act in their teens and then went on to be responsible adults? I can think of a few who didn't.
Robert, that's impossible to answer without asking what the Bucs do in their first two-rounds. If they were to pick a Dalvin Cook or a Christian McCaffrey earlier, then no, you stay away from Mixon. But if it's a matter of need, if the Bucs haven't been able to fill their running back needs, you think about it.
No, history isn't good of bad guys turning into good ones. Lawrence Phillips never did, right? Tight end Aaron Hernandez didn't. There are too many others to name.
But the Mixon incident was in 2014, and he hasn't had a repeat of his problems since then. If you take him, you absorb the risks. But he's a talented kid.
Here's what I would do. I would move heaven and earth to make sure I'm not there in the third-round needing a running back. I'd rather stay with Doug Martin. I'd trade up for Dalvin Cook. Anything.
The Chicago Bears just signed Mike Glennon to a 3-year $45 million contract with $19 million guaranteed. Does Mike have the greatest agent on the planet, or what?
I want him to buy my next house for me. I figure I'll pay six dollars. I agree with you. I like Mike, but to get $15 million for five wins and only mop play in two years stunned me. Frankly, I was surprised that the Bucs went to the pocket as deeply as they did and offered to make him the highest paid backup in the league.
I know some athletes only need an opportunity, but I've seen Glennon play. He's slow-footed, and he can be inaccurate. I think the Bears will want Jay Cutler back, and that's saying something.
What odds would you give that the Lightning make the playoffs?
I'd say, oh, 39 percent. They're playing well lately, but there are a lot of bodies to climb past. The injuries don't seem to be slowing down, either. As I've written, there are just too many shifts by too many guys the Bolts didn't count on being in the NHL.
Here's the better question, Jim. If the Lightning get in, do you have confidence they can get past a round or two? Their defense was very good in games against the Rangers and the Wild this week, but will they continue?
You can point to a lot of flaws with this Lightning team. It never did absorb the loss of Steven Stamkos to its offense. Too many defenders seemed to age all at once. And worst, the goaltending spent most of the season spinning its wheels. Does that sound like a dangerous playoff team to you? Probably not.
That said, I don't think this is the end for this Lightning team. The core is still good with Stamkos-Hedman-Kucherov-Drouin-Killorn. They'll be back,
You may have addressed this before, but if you did I don’t remember. Why do baseball players spit all the time? Basketball players don’t, and they engage in the same type of physical team sport… Football players seem to spit out water on breaks and such, but not so much that I notice on the field — you don’t see a football player lined up for a play spitting. I do see a hockey player spit from time to time, but normally on the bench, at least when I notice it. I do understand if the baseball player is chewing tobacco or has snuff, but I get the sense there is a lot of spitting from non-users out there, and those products aren’t allowed anymore. Understand sunflower seeds in the dugout, shells flying out of their mouth, but on the field it mostly looks like, well, spit! Why? Will the banning of tobacco products from stadiums result in less spit? More importantly (evidently), will it speed up the game?
They spit all of the time because they have great expectorations. Sorry. Bad joke.
I think it's tradition. Today's players spit because yesterday's players spat. It's allowed, You can blame it on gum or sunflower seeds or tobacco, but almost every batter includes a spitting during his routine. You don't see it in women's softball, you don't see it in track and field, you don't see it in golf (outdoor activities).
I don't think players will stop until they're told to stop. And I don't think it will speed up the game. Spitting is a fairly rapid activity.
Just wondering: Do you think the Roman gladiators spat? How about the World War II soldiers? The marathon runners of ancient Greece?
You know who led the world in spitting? Ex-Buc Warren Sapp did. He would spread a white towel at his feet, and stuff snuff into his lip. Someone would ask a question, and he would spit a brown stream into his towel and answer -- sometimes gruffly.
The bottom line is there is no good reason to spit now that tobacco has been banned and the spitball has been outlawed. But players continue it. Heck, even Little Leaguers spit as they try to emulate the big guys.
At the end of 1996, despite 14 years of losing seasons, 13 of them double digit, Bucs fans anticipated there really was a change in the team, and that winning was expected for the first time in a while.
Do you feel that from the general population this offseason? And what does signing DeSean Jackson do to that?
I'm not sure we're quite there yet. I remember, in 1996, it took us a while to grasp that this team had transformed into something special. Maybe that's the case.
I do think the Bucs have a chance, however. I like Jason Licht better than any general manager since Rich McKay. I remember McKay once told me that a team didn't have to have a perfect plan, it just had to have a plan and stick to it. I think Koetter is more grounded than any coach in a while.
Most of all, this team has a quarterback, which Dungy didn't have. And the league has turned into a quarterback's league.
Signing Jackson ups the ante of all of us. As a signing, it feels right. Keyshawn wasn't right, and Bert Emanuel wasn't right, and lord knows, Alvin Harper wasn't right. But this has a chance to be. Jackson isn't being asked to be better than he has been at his other stops; the same will be just fine. And as I wrote, Jackson can make everyone around him better. Winston, Evans, Brate, the whole bunch.
You know as well as I do Nick, there are still areas to address. The running back. Safety. The offensive line. But for the first time in a long time, I expect this team to be good next year. Tough schedule or not, it should compete. If I'm a ticket buyer, that pleases me. A good draft would do more, but winning doesn't feel that far away, does it?
In your opinion, what was the greatest trade in Bucs history? The best free agent signing? Draft pick? Undrafted player signing?
Tough series of questions there, Jim. Let's see. I think the greatest maneuvering by the team was in the 1995 draft. The Bucs traded backward, gave up a first-and-third and drafted Warren Sapp (and got two No. 2 draft picks), then used those picks to move up and draft Derrick Brooks. It clinched that era for the Bucs.
I also am a guy to look fondly on the haul the Bucs sent to acquire Jon Gruden. Yeah, it was a lot, but the team won a Super Bowl. I'd make that trade again tomorrow.
The worst trade? How about the one where the Bucs traded their No. 1 pick in 1983 for the No. 2 pick in 1982 and took Booker Reese, who had two sacks in his career. That 1983 draft pick could have been Dan Marino the following year. One of the all-time blunders.
The best free agent signing? I've got three. No. 2 and No. 3 came in the same year (2001) when they signed Simeon Rice and Brad Johnson. Rice was from a different planet, but man, could he rush the passer. And Johnson was a better-than-people remember quarterback who kept outplaying people down the stretch in 2002. A tough, smart guy who made up for a limited arm.
My No. 1 free agent, though, was Hardy Nickerson. He brought an attitude from Pittsburgh, and his leadership was eventually passed on to Brooks. Hardware, they called him. It fit.
The best underrated player? I'd go with Earnest Graham. Earn-it, they called him. He was a fine back, a tough back the team could use to this day.
Michael Bennett was good. The Bucs should have kept him. Shelton Quarles and Karl Williams. But I'll go with Graham.
The worst free agent has a lot of guys competing for No. 1, but I'll go with Anthony Collins.