Tuesday, Aug. 21
The Bucs Buzz
I search the globe for the best Buccaneers stories on the Web — so you don't have to.
Today I wrote about quarterback Chris Simms, mainly because I soon wont' be able to. I believe Simms' absence against Jacksonville sealed his fate with this team. I think the Bucs are either going to cut him or trade him. Now, Simms doesn't think so — or at least he's operating under that assumption. He told me on Monday that he's still working toward being ready to play on Saturday at Miami. That would not hurt his trade value.
Off-site, the Tampa Tribune's Roy Cummings wrote about rookie safety Tanard Jackson and his big-play ability during Saturday's preseason loss. Bucsblitz.com will have its own take later today or Wednesday.
And, it appears he's a convert now. Despite the misfires the Bucs had in the shotgun last week with the center-snap exchange, head coach Jon Gruden told the media that he has no intention of abandoning the shotgun.
The St. Petersburg Times examined backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who appears to be making improvement this preseason in spite of fewer reps. I don't think it will lead to Gradkowski winning the backup job, though. I think the job is McCown's to lose — and he won't lose it.
Elsewhere, the Orlando Sentinel writes that rookies like linebacker Adam Hayward had a rude awakening on Saturday night in Jacksonville. Remember that missed tackle on Maurice Jones-Drew in the first half of that game? Hayward thought he had him dead to rights. And he wasn't the only rookie hit over the head by the NFL on Saturday, either.
Goodell's big challenge
I'm not going to bore you with another long, drawn-out opinion piece on Michael Vick. There are more than enough of those out there. He's going to jail for his crimes and he may never play football again, as it should be in a case like this.
I'm more interested in what happens after the Vick matter is settled, once he's convicted and suspended by the NFL.
This has been pretty easy so far for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his crusade to clean up pro football. Pacman Jones? Had a rap sheet a mile long. A one-season suspension was a no-brainer. Chris Henry? Eight game suspension for a litany of off-field alcohol violations? Sure. A long suspension for Vick? No problem.
This is the easy part. What's the hard part?
Say in the next few months or years a NFL player comes along and is charged with rape. Or a player is charged with murder, but then pleads down to obstruction of justice. Or a player is sought in the investigation of the stabbing of a relative.
These aren't hypotheticals. They've actually happened in the NFL. And those players, in the past, received relatively minor suspensions or fines.
If Goodell truly is the new sheriff in town, he's off to a promising start. But all he's done is nip pre-existing conditions (Jones and Henry). Once he suspends Vick — and he will, probably for two years — he'll simply be reacting to a crime to heinous to ignore. What if a player commits a crime such as rape, but has no prior criminal history? What if the case turns into something akin to the Duke lacrosse fiasco? What will Goodell do when the crimes become more gray and more human?
That is what I'm waiting to measure Goodell by. He's proved so far that he's a pragmatic commissioner who is willing to wait until all the facts are in, but isn't afraid to levy unnecessary action against a player still under investigation (witness Vick's suspension from training camp, which was fair under the circumstances).
The next challenge is the big challenge for Goodell, and that is what will define his fight to clean up football. He can't afford to be soft when it comes to acts against other people, and his action against Vick will set the bar.
That's all for right now. The blog in review comes on Wednesday, and then a new week begins. MP