Ask Gary: Do problems spoil the Olympics?

by Gary Shelton on August 6, 2016 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays

(Each week, the readers take over and play Ask Gary. They send in a question, or a couple, on Thursday night or Friday morning and we all talk about the world of sports.  Think of it as a radio show where you don't have to be on hold. Join us and ask a question, make a comment or be funny. Send the questions to

Saturday, 6 a.m.

You've stated in the past how much of a fan you are of the Olympic games. To me, its hard to justify the prominence of the games in light of the doping scandals, corruption, financial boondoggles, poor tv viewership,etc,--unless the athletes themselves view their experience as a pinnacle in their careers. What is your insight into the athletes' perspectives?​

Barry McDowell

I feel the way you do. To me, the Olympics are about amateur athletes building their careers for years for the Olympic ideal. It isn't about a basketball player fresh off an NBA title or a golfer who has just won the Masters.

I mouthed your words when I would describe it. If the Olympics aren't the pinnacle of your sport, then you should't

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be competing in it. Some disagree. Kobe Bryant swore to me that that representing his country meant as much to him as it did a shot-putter. I don't see how it can. LeBron James  has represented his country, but if you ask him the best thing he accomplished this year, it's winning against the Warriors.

I know the Olympics isn't perfect. Too much graft. Too many cheaters. Too much politics. But it tries as hard, on a competitor's level, as any sporting event I know.

Who do you think is the greatest sports broadcaster of all time?

Scott Myers

Play by play? Vin Scully. Analysis? Don Meredith. Commentary? Bob Costas.

I think Costas can do it all. His work in the John Sandusky case was flawless. He has perspective that most analysts lack.

I loved Scully on baseball. I loved the late John Facenda on football. And how about Gordon Soley on wrestling?

Overall, I think we're a victim of the guys we listened to growing up. I was a huge Curt Gowdy fan. I loved Skip Caray. I used to be amused by Larry Munson.

But if I was a great athlete for a weekend, I would want Costas calling the action.

Two of the presidential debates will be held opposite two prime-time NFL games.

Would it be okay to eat wings while watching the presidential debates?

Howard Powders

Howard, in this election, I wouldn't stop at wings. I'd order a few pitchers of beer, too. It might be the key to staying sane.

Just asking: What does Trump think of Russia now after the Olympic debacle?

Tony Dungy is being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend. What stands out for you when you think of his time with the Bucs? What do you think is his most significant accomplishment in the NFL?

Larry Beller

I almost said his Super Bowl win, but I know better. Tony's finest quality was his basic human decency. He cared about people.

During his time with the Bucs, Tony was the finest builder this team has ever seen. He got Derrick Brooks to the proper side of the defense, where he could run without worrying about the tight end. He motivated Warren Sapp.

Jon Gruden won a Super Bowl here, and Dungy couldn't. But Dungy built a dynasty, and Gruden didn't. He took the biggest joke in the NFL, and he made it a serious franchise.

If you remember, I was fairly hard on Tony while he was here. I never thought he got his offensive staff right, and I don't know that he ever would have. The Bucs were going to win a lot of games by scoring 17 points, but eventually, that catches up to you.

But during the days of Dungy, the Bucs were an easy team to like. They had so many good guys as coaches and scouts and players. The franchise hasn't felt the same since he left. I'll tell you a story. I was in the team's draft room once, and they cut to commercial right as the Bucs picked. I swore that they could have waited until the bleepity-bleep Bucs picked. I looked up, and Tony was standing next to me. And I felt like a six-year old in church. I've never covered another man who would make me feel like that. Not Shula. Not Bryant. Not Bowden.

That tells you how much I admired the guy.

I am turning the tables on you. Lets play overrated/underrated,management edition:

Jim Willson

Matt Silverman: Overrated. I like Matt a lot. I want him to succeed. But so far, you can't say he's doing so. I've said that Silverman's job is harder than Friedman's, but last place is last place.

Glazer family: Overrated. The Glazers are the only ownership group in Tampa Bay who have won their sports ultimate prize, but it's been a long time. They seem very impatient when it comes to replacing coaches, and you never know how much they'll spend in free agency. I wish they were in the community more.

Steve Yzerman: Underrated. Yes, the whole world is impressed with Yzerman. Even so, he's underrated. It was Stevie Y who built the Lightning's farm system. He's made the team good, and he's keeping it good.

Stu Sternberg: Underrated. I know, I know. He's in last place, and he wants a new stadium, two factors that are never very popular. But Sternberg cares. I've stood with him after the Rays lost a playoff series, and I've seen the sick look on his face. I don't know if he'll ever have enough money to win a World Series, but I'd like it if he could.

Rich McKay: Underrated. Some don't even remember that he moved around enough to draft Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks, but he did. He once said you didn't have to have the best plan in the world, but you had to have a plan. I always think of McKay that way. He blew some draft picks, but he hit on some, too. And he got a new stadium built.

Tony Dungy: Underrated. Dungy was solid and sane, and he brought a balance to the Bucs. He built in a wasteland, and he got his players into proper positions. I'm never a fan of giving credit to the previous coach. But ask yourself: Would the Bucs have won a Super Bowl if Jon Gruden had come before Tony Dungy?

Jon Gruden: Underrated: I wrote this once and was criticized for it. I think Gruden did the best one-year coaching job in NFL history. Think about it. He didn't even know Mike Alstott's name (he called him Mark) on the day of his hiring. Yet, he gave this offense enough energy to win a Super Bowl. I criticized him; yes, I did. But not for that season.

Jeff Vinik (you left him out, but I'm adding him): Underrated. There is a reason that Vinik is the most popular sports owner in town. He hasn't missed a beat. He's into his community, and he has the proper distance from his team. Who doesn't love the guy?

With Tony Dungy going in to the HoF, what is your personal favorite Tony story?

Jim Willson

It was the last night of the last millennium. We had flown to Chicago because no one knew the planes were going to fall out of the sky because of the computers.

It was a Friday, and the game wasn't til Sunday. So Tony (his wife Lauren was in town, so we met in my room) came to my room to help me on a story I was working on. I was comparing the Bucs, player for player, with the old Pittsburgh Steelers.

It was the kind of stories that most coaches never go near. But Tony did. He compared Jack Ham and Derrick Brooks, and Sapp and Joe Green, and Ronde Barber and Mel Blount, and John Lynch and Donnie Shell. Sometimes, he picked Bucs. Sometimes, he picked Steelers. Sometimes, he called it closer than you might think.

That was Tony. He was a better quote than most people believed, because he was so honest and insightful. He made your stories better.

Another story? I've told this one before, too. But I had been really hard on the Bucs lately, and they took it out on someone. Tony was saying that the criticism had motivated them. "I should get a game ball," I said. "You got some votes," he said.

I know it's early, but what's your assessment of the new Bucs head coach? He certainly seems more open to the media/public than his predecessor. Isn't that a breath of fresh air from the" aloof, it's none of your business" approach Smith seemed to have towards folks covering the team? Does the team seem to be "bought in " to the new regime? Also, don't you think we have the best back-up quarterback in the NFL? That's all I'm asking!

Richard Wade

Richard, what coach hasn't gotten a great grade before the preseason games even start? Dirk Koetter has been impressive (read: he isn't Schiano). He's a more relaxed man than Lovie Smith, and it shows. Lovie once got bent out of shape over a story that said who the best starting nickel back might be. Really. Wouldn't another team assume you're starting nickel back might be your best one? Sheesh. But Lovie was just that uptight. I don't think he thought the game was no one's business. He just believed in secrets.

Teams get so wound up because of this. Do you think of all the games that Smith lost here, any of them were because someone knew who is nickel back was?

I have hopes for Koetter (and Mike Smith), but in early August, I'll be honest. I had hopes for Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano, too. We'll find out about Koetter when they start keeping score. But, yeah, scoreless, he's fairly impressive.

Personally, I'd stop short of calling Glennon the best backup quarterback in the league. His record is 5-13 lifetime, and he's still kind of slow. But a lot of people disagree with me. ranked him as the second-best backup quarterback in the league, behind Carolina's Derek Anderson.

With the exception of high-priced draftees who are waiting to take over, I don't really think it's a great time for backup quarterbacks.  Think about these guys: Bruce Gradkowski, Dan Orlovsky, Josh McCown, Josh Johnson and Luke McCown. All former Bucs. Right now, they're all still in the league.

You saw that Dallas was flirting with Josh McCown and Glennon, which should make Lovie feel warm and fuzzy. Where did Earl Morrall go? George Blanda?

I meant to ask this right after the passing of Pat Summitt. Did you ever have an opportunity to see her coach in person and interview her​? Even though I don't follow women's basketball all that much I, of course, always heard about her and the team and her amazing accomplishments and thought she was a very special person.

Vee Richardson

I thought the world of Pat. I covered her when she won her last national championship in Tampa. She was humble and funny and smart, but you never forgot who was in charge.Like most of the writers who covered her, I thought it was a shame that she and Geno Auriemma didn't get along any more. They were both terrific coaches for their sport.

Pat was pure country, though. She would be talking about her team, and suddenly, she was talking about wrenching her should trying to chase an opossum, and before long, everyone was laughing as she made her point about playing through adversity.

Pat was priceless. It doesn't matter what you think of women's basketball, she was a legend.

Also, I read that one of the teams thought the Olympic Village in Rio was not fit for habitation. That is until they checked into the Days Inn and decided never mind. I'd always imagined reporters traveling all over for such events was a glamorous thing until reading about you standing in water resulting in wet socks?

Vee Richardson

When you get back from the Olympics, no one ever wants to hear about how cruddy you're room was or how long the bus trip to the media center was. They just want to hear about the magic.

But I'll tell you this: The best media village was never one-tenth of the worst media rooms. It wasn't even close. Filip Bondy, my old buddy from the New York Daily News, and I used to have wild arguments about who had the worst room. He had part of his toilet lid floating in the bowl once. I had a bus driver tell me it was okay to go East, but not West. Never go West, he said. It was a running joke, because all we did was sleep and shower in our rooms.

In China, I stayed at a hotel I called "a Motel Four." It only dreamed of being a Motel Six. In the media village, no one leaves the light on for you; it's broken out. It had all the metal-laced toothpaste you would ever want and a great view of the morning smog.

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