Raheem Morris really can’t be enjoying life in the NFL all that much this week. Already, the lockout has put his young Buccaneers team in a precarious situation. Whereas other, more veteran teams can handle a lack of off-season work this Bucs squad can use every rep, every film session and every minute in the team facilities it can get. Now Morris has to go make the media rounds and discuss the character of his team. A topic that was already a sore subject last year when the Bucs were regularly painted as a team full of character-cases and Morris was credited with a lack of team discipline.
Per ESPN’s Pat Yasinkas, Raheem Morris offered a little bit more insight into the recent troubles of Aqib Talib and the Bucs approach towards character evaluation in general:
“Everybody in our league has issues,’’ Morris said. “For us, it’s about who we bring in and how we can control those guys. We look for captains (on college teams), guys with high upstanding quality. Every once in a while, you get a guy who’s not kind of the upstanding kind of guy that you want, and his talent surpasses some of the things that you may settle for. And you’ve got to figure out when you can take him, when you cannot take him and the calculated risk you take as an organization.
“Myself and (general manager) Mark Dominik hold ourselves accountable for helping those young men come along. But we can’t raise them. We can only pick them, get them in the building. You’ve got to be harsh. Unfortunately, Jerramy Stevens is not on our football team anymore. Unfortunately, Tanard Jackson had to sit out a whole year. I’m never going to be a coach who disciplines publicly. We do almost everything in-house.’’
Morris also went on to discuss his role in player development. I’m giving it ten minutes before some idiot goes on ESPN and sandbags Morris for this comment.
“The clear message is: you’ve either got to straighten it out or you won’t be here for long,’’ Morris said. “It’s the Not For Long League. Unfortunately, we had a few players learn the hard way. Fining guys is how I help the community. I’m highly involved in our player development program, how they’re handling their family life at home. I tell them, come in my office on Friday and let’s rap. You’re trying to help develop young men. Somebody’s got to do it and I don’t just put it on my player-development guy. I try to be active and lead them.’’
It’s not fair, but I guarantee someone is going to put this indiscretion on Morris’ shoulders. If he’s taking credit for being highly involved in player development and the Bucs continue to have off-the-field issues, one of the moralists in the NFL media will turn it around and make Raheem the bad guy. Already words like ‘enabler’ have been floated.
It’s also interesting to hear how Morris describes Tanard Jackson, to listen to him speak it sounds as though the Bucs are going to let Jackson come back. I’m a little surprised by that but I’m willing to let things slide if he seems to be on the right life-track. Still, that’s just going to be more fodder for the anti-Bucs brigade.