Who was more important: Brady or Belichick?

by Gary Shelton on May 24, 2020

in general

Was Brady more important than Belichick?/JEFFREY S. KING

Was it Jimmy, or was it Jerry?

Was it Joe Cool, or was it Bill?

Was it Tony, or was it Jon?

As a nation, we seem to hate this notion of shared glory. Save it for Starsky and Hutch. We look at success from this way and that, from over and under, and the only thing we agree on is this: The credit has to go to one lone rider above all else. Someone has to be the star of the show.

And so we debate again. Was this guy more responsible for the victories or was that one? Never mind the thought of shared credit. Someone has to sit on the throne. Someone deserves all the glory.


Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the GarySheltonSports.com blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on GarySheltonSports.com.

I mention this because of the newest game to hit the NFL: Did the credit for winning six Super Bowls belong to Bill Belichick? Or did it belong to Tom Brady? In some corners, it is a debate that will continue until one man or the other wins another Super Bowl.

Oh, we've seen it before. Tampa Bay fans still want to debate how much credit Tony Dungy should get for the Bucs' Super Bowl win, and how much should go to Jon Gruden, who was actually the coach of the team. Me? I'm in the minority. I think it took both men -- and a lot of other men -- to win the trophy. It took Dungy to build much of a roster, and it took Gruden to put it over the top. What's wrong with giving both men a share of credit? (And Rich McKay, and Derrick Brooks, and Warren Sapp, and John Lynch, and Ronde Barber, and Monte Kiffin and dozens of others).

In a wise world, that's how it works. There are reasons there are different tasks for different men, and when it all comes together, what's the harm in recognizing different contributions?

Not us. We like Lennon over McCartney (or vice-versa). We like Mr. Outside over Mr. Inside. We like Romulus over Remus. It holds assetive. It sounds decision. There is nothing wishy-washy when you pick one guy over the other.

(It's odd. You never hear people argue over whether Greg Schiano or Josh Freeman were more to blame for their disappointments, do you?)

It's all over a version of the same argument in other places. In Dallas, they debate Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones. In Washington, it's Joe Gibbs and Bobby Beathard. In San Francisco, it's Joe Montana and Bill Walsh. I suppose among the old-timers in Green Bay, you can get a debate going for Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr. We want a star to the show. We want a face on the money. Just one face. Just one hero. Hey, the movie wasn't "Shane and that other guy."

The discussion is popular, of course, because Belichick and Brady have broken up the band. And, immediately, fans began to take sides. Belichick is a guy who just directed traffic while Brady led his team to victory. Or Brady was just a system quarterback who danced while Belichick played the fiddle.

To me, it's simple. In these days of free agency and constant change, it took both me. You'd have a case if you want to argue that Brady is the best quarterback ever to play. You'd have a case if you want to argue that Belichick is the best coach. Neither one of the guys is a second banana.

Hey, I understand the breakup. One of the reasons the Patriots' run has gone on so long is that Belichick isn't afraid to send talent elsewhere. He saw Brady near the end of the line, and he didn't want to commit millions to keep him. Brady, in an era where quarterbacks play longer because they have more protection, wanted another battlefield.

So who is in better shape? The Patriots still have a playoff roster (except for quarterback), and they play in a division that doesn't scare anyone. Brady has weapons, but the Bucs haven't made any noise for a long time. Certainly, it will be interesting to see which of the two has a better season.

But does it prove which man was more responsible for the rings? Of course not.

Both men were essential.

Of course, that's only if you're fair.

Rank the biggest Bucs’ bust of them all

by Gary Shelton on May 21, 2020

in general

Aguayo was a forgettable pick./CARMEN MANDATO

The NFL draft is less than a month old, and still, you are looking for new adjectives for the world "wonderful."

Also, "terrific."

And "game-changing."

Around here, that's the way it goes. After the latest NFL draft, the Bucs' front office slaps itself on the back, and the critics drool, and the fans prepare for a brand new canvas. The team has renewed hope, and the world prepares for a new, improved Bucs' franchise.

No, this isn't to say that Tristan Wirfs is going to fizzle. But a lot of Bucs' draft picks have over the years. Considering how often the Bucs have drafted in the top 10, the team has had to work overtime to build this messy of a resume.

But who is the biggest flop the Bucs have had? Who is the worst of the worst? Who should embarrass this franchise more than anyone else?

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the GarySheltonSports.com blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on GarySheltonSports.com.

Oh, let's be honest. Some would say Bo Jackson. But the failure with Jackson had zero to do with talent; he proved that with the Raiders. The problem with Jackson was that the team didn't listen when he told them he wouldn't play here.

Jameis Winston? No. His disappointment is still fresh, but he made a Pro Bowl, and he led the league in passing. You can be a heartache without being a bust.

Kenyatta Walker? He wasn't as good as he was supposed to be, but he lasted six years and started 73 games. He started in a Super Bowl. The Bucs have had bigger flops.

Oh, and if you aren't counting just the draft, the Bucs have traded for busts (Chris Chandler), and they've signed busts as free agents (Anthony Collins).

But when it comes to drafted players, who's in the Top 10?

Let's see.

10. Rod Jones, 25th overall, 1986: The biggest busts come with a nickname that measures their disappointment. Remember Rod "Toast" Jones, who chased receivers across the goal line for four years for the Bucs.

9. Vinny Testaverde, 1st overall, 1987: Testaverde was such a survivor he made a lot of people forget just how bad Testaverde was for the Bucs, when he threw 112 interceptions in six years. He was 24-48 for the Bucs.

8. Brett Moritz, 44th overall, 1978: You might think a second-year franchise could use linemen, but Moritz played only one year, and appeared in only is games, and never started. Oops.

7. Eric Curry, 6th overall, 1993: Curry lasted five years with the Bucs, but in that time, he had just 12 sacks. In his last two years, he had only four starts.

6. Dexter Jackson, 58th overall, 2008: Jackson was drafted onto a team that was desperate for wide receiving help, but he never caught a pass for the Bucs. He appeared in seven games without a start.

5. Keith McCants, fourth overall, 1990: There was a time that McCants was speculated as the overall No. 1 pick. But with the Bucs, he couldn't find a home at defensive end or linebacker. He played three years for the Bucs and finished with 12 sacks.

4. Gaines Adams, fourth overall, 2007: The Bucs wanted Adams so badly that, as soon as they signed, the team jettisoned Simeon Rice. It didn't work out. Adams had just 13 1/2 sacks in his three years.

3. Charles McRae, 7th overall, 1991. McRae was big, and he was strong. But he didn't particularly like football, which is kind of a shortcoming. He started just 38 games in five years.

2. Roberto Aguayo, 59th overall, 2016: The Bucs not only over-drafted Aguayo as a kicker, they traded up to do it. He lasted only a year before he was gone.

  1. Booker Reese, 32nd overall, second round: The Bucs botched this as badly as a pick has ever been botched. They drafted the wrong player, then they traded their No. 1 pick the following year (it could have been Dan Marino) chasing the mistake. Reese had two sacks as a Bucs and stared just seven games.

In other words, Wirfs should take heart. No matter how much time he takes, the Bucs will have seen worse.

Trust me.

Random thoughts: Did Bucs lose to keep on losing?

by Gary Shelton on May 17, 2020

in general

Winston is near the lead in many categories/JEFFREY S. KING

Sean Payton, the Saints' coach, says he thinks the Bucs' intentionally lost to his team in 2014 to ensure the draft pick of Jameis Winston. I believe it, too. Of course, after 28 wins in five years, what further punishment would you give them?

-- The thing is, I've been told by someone who was with the Titans that the team preferred Marcus Mariota (another fizzle) anyway. So there's that.

-- Personally, I didn't care when Blake Snell said he wouldn't risk his health to play a shortened season for less money, despite the rantings of professional ranter Stephen A. Smith. What I did mind was him saying that in a world where medical workers are risking their lives everyday. Snell won six games last year, okay?

-- If sports were to re-start without fans, would that give the Rays an advantage? They're used to playing in an empty stadium.

-- I saw an interesting article the other day that asked who your favorite athlete was as a kid. Mine? Johnny Unitas, Mickey Mantle, Wilt Chamberlain. Anyone got a better threesome?

-- If sports cannot return, who loses out more than the Bucs? Yes, I know that Bo Jackson didn't show up, but how much better would even Bo have made those Bucs, who had zero expectations. This time, the Bucs are expected to be one of the more interesting teams in the league.

-- I loved that the attorney for Quinton Dunbar, accused of robbery, said it's because the police are over-zealous in pursuing a "celebrity." Dunbar has about as much celebrity as the guy who bags your groceries at Publix.

-- If Dunbar and Deandre Baker are indeed innocent, does that spoil the planned TV show "Miramar Vice?"

-- Let's see.If Brady gives the Bucs two years, would that make the timetable about right for the team to pursue Aaron Rodgers?

-- I love how there are a lot of articles saying that Winston "can't wait" to play against the Bucs. It would take two major injuries and a brain cramp by Payton for Winston to even see the field against the Bucs this year.

-- Somewhere, fans are booing what brand of toothpaste Roger Goodell uses. The guy can't win. Commissioners of other sports have their own scandals, but it doesn't stick to them the way Goodell's does. Yes, Goodell is kind of arrogant, but everything in the league isn't his fault.

-- Is it?

-- That said, I'm not crazy about the NFL's latest proposal to improve team's draft positions if they hire a minority coach. I'm all for hiring minorities (I saw what Tony Dungy did for the Bucs), but if it's all about hiring the best man for the job, bonus draft pics are too much. How about this? How about a team hiring a minority gets $2 million dollars from Goodell's wallet?

-- I wonder what Josh Freeman thinks of James' Winston's off-season.

-- With the passing of former Yankees' general manager Bob Watson, I'm reminded of the year when George Steinbrenner had a highly regarded horse in the Kentucky Derby. In the horse's stall was a goat -- a common sight -- who looked small and powerless and was largely ignored. We named the goat "Bob Watson" because of its relative insignificance. Good night, Bob.

-- Tristan Wirfs will have a much easier time playing tackle for the Bucs than Demar Dotson did. For one thing, he won't have to work nearly as hard on his tackling after cornerbacks intercept the ball.

-- If you aren't impressed with the Bucs' scheduled to play five times on primetime television next year, consider this: The remake of the series "Ironside" lasted only three episodes. It was based on an idea older than Tom Brady.

-- Watching the Lightning win the 2004 Stanley Cup again might be invigorating for some fans, but all I was left with was this: With young stars like Martin St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier, Brad Richards and Dan Boyle, why couldn't the team make another run to two?

-- And, yeah, the same goes for the Bucs after their Super Bowl. win.

-- Mike Tyson, at 53, is talking about a comeback. That's in the ring, not in a remake of Grumpy Old Men. I'm sure handlers will find him a Pee-Wee Herman clone to fight, but what if he breaks a hip?

-- If the distant drums mean anything, prepare for a war of owners vs. players. Players, understandably, see the increase in their risks and the devaluing of their contracts. Owners see empty seats and brace for TV to want money back. The difference is that this skirmish will be more understandable than most.

Finally, is there any way I can vote for Anthony Fauci for the Heisman?

Bucs have had their share of disappointments

by Gary Shelton on May 14, 2020

in general

Winston won't be remembered fondly./CARMEN MANDATO

Was Jameis Winston a bust?

He threw a lot of interceptions. He fumbled a lot. He lost too often. He could be such a comedy of errors that the Bucs washed their hands of him.

But was he a bust? Was he in the grand measure another Jamarcus Russell or Andre Ware? Was he as big of a letdown as Booker Reese or Brian Bosworth?

After all, he led the league in passing yardage. He threw for 121 touchdown passes in 72 games. Most days, he was the Bucs' best chance of winning.

So when you are listing the great busts of the NFL, is Winston one of them?

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the GarySheltonSports.com blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on GarySheltonSports.com.

Oh, no doubt, he was a disappointment. There is no escaping that. But the hard thing with Winston was always to measure his good moments against his bad, and figure out how much of the problem was the defense, or the running game, or the offensive line.

A lot of it, of course, depends on your definition of the word "bust." If that means he was of less value than his draft position, then, yes, Winston was a bust. Any quarterback who doesn't reach his second contract is. But if it means he was a total waste, without any redeeming qualities, then perhaps not. Winston could do some things; in the end, no one could justify paying that much money for a guy who made that many mistakes.

The former Bucs' lineman Keith McCants used to call me all the time to debate whether he was the bust that I had written that he was. I would try to tell him, gently, that a high draft pick who starts only 35 games for the team that drafted him was, indeed a bust. If the team couldn't wait to get rid of him, he's a bust.

But there is indeed a gray area.

Was Trent Dilfer a bust? He made a Pro Bowl for the Bucs, and he won a Super Bowl for the Ravens.

Was Bo Jackson a bust? He didn't sign here, but elsewhere, he became one of the most notable athletes of his time.

Was Vinny Testaverde a bust? He was horrible here, but he lasted 20 years in the NFL and reached an AFC title game.

Was Josh Freeman a bust? He ended up that way, but he had a season in which he threw for 25 touchdowns with only six interceptions.

Oh, the Bucs should know a bust when they see him. They have drafted Charles McRae and Eric Curry and Roberto Aguayo over the years. There is no defending any of them.

For the record, Jason Licht says that Winston wasn't a bust. Of course, he drafted him. Besides, what general manager wants to call his own guy a bust?

History will remember that Winston was a disappointment, an underachiever. He left because he was told to leave, banished from the fort. He never made a playoff game. His records are not covered in confetti.

If you want to argue that he wasn't a bust, well, that's acceptable. He had some very good numbers. But he also saw too many games decided because he threw the ball to the wrong jersey.

In the end, he was unacceptable.

And that's the highest praise you can muster.

What equals success for the Tampa Bay Bucs?

May 10, 2020 general

Sunday, 4 a.m. You loved their free agent period. You liked their draft. You look at their schedule and, despite some tough games, you are not overwhelmed. Now is the time you have to decide. What, in your mind, constitutes a disappointment for the Tampa Bay Bucs? Content beyond this point is for members only. […]

Read the full article →

Analyzing the upcoming Bucs’ schedule

May 8, 2020 general

Friday, 4 a.m. It starts with the Geezer Bowl, with last year’s man-to-blame on the sidelines watching. Along the way, there are five prime time games. There is a game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Jon Gruden is waiting. And can you wait to see it? The schedule for the Tampa Bay Bucs was released […]

Read the full article →

Shula’s legacy was stronger than his jaw

May 5, 2020 general

Tuesday, 4 a.m. A mountain died Tuesday. A tidal wave washed away. Don Shula, a force of nature, died. Against all odds, Shula died at the age of 90. And all of us who have withstood his icy stare, who have wilted as he roared “weren’t you just here,” when he didn’t want to expand […]

Read the full article →

Who is the face of Tampa Bay sports?

May 3, 2020 general

Sunday, 4 a.m. Once, the face of Tampa Bay was outsized, with a smile too big for its face, with wide-eyed rage and cornrows flowing around it. Once, to the rest of America, the face of Tampa Bay was that of Warren Sapp. Never mind that he wasn’t, by his own admission, the best player […]

Read the full article →

Not all former Bucs’ quarterbacks soar

April 28, 2020 general

Tuesday, 4 a.m. If you are a longtime fan of the Tampa Bay Bucs, right about now, you probably want to call the engravers. Remind them that the “e” comes before the “I” in “Jameis Winston. Yeah, the Bucs have a lousy history of watching their former quarterbacks celebrate. And now that Winston is Saintly, […]

Read the full article →

Are Bucs’ fans feeling buyer’s remorse after draft?

April 27, 2020 general

Monday, 4 a.m. Now come the doubts. For five minutes, maybe for 10, they were answers. They were going to plug holes, and they were going to help make the Bucs better, because that’s the role of draft picks. For five minutes, maybe for 10, they were golden. Ah, but the Tampa Bay Bucs have […]

Read the full article →