One thing I’ve heard over and over in Twitter conversations and in comment sections is some prevailing notion that Josh Freeman lost the locker room.
And whether that’s because he missed a team photo, or because he’s quite and talks in a monotone, emotionless voice, or because of baseless, ridiculous speculation about his life off the field, today was yet further proof that there are players who line up alongside Freeman and support him, even while he’s on the verge of leaving the Buccaneers.
Bucs RG Davin Joseph says Josh Freeman and the Bucs “are like rice and beans” and adds it will be uncomfortable when they’re not together
— Roy Cummings (@RCummingsTBO) October 2, 2013
It’s easy to be skeptical of the responses of NFL players to the media, as they can often feel (and can often be!) scripted and bland. But Davin Joseph seems to be speaking from his heart by using a creative phrase to talk about he and his comrades’ appreciation for Freeman.
Again, this could be totally scripted and created by Bucs’ PR to paint a certain appearance, but I doubt Davin would have such a unique way of describing his teammate if he were simply regurgitating team “press speak.”
But it’s the responses of Donald Penn which further prove that the locker room, or at least the offensive line, were behind Freeman and feel he’s getting a raw deal.
(H/T to JoeBucsFan for the quotes)
“You know, the stuff that came out and stuff like that, it’s like they’re really trying to bring him down and Josh is a great guy. I mean Josh is a very humble spirit. He’s a very good guy. He’s a very good person and he really cares about him teammates and he cares about his team. I know it’s killing him what’s going on.”
When asked who “They” is, he explained:
#Bucs LT Donald Penn says he knows who to blame for Josh Freeman mess: “Y’all, the media, the media, the media, the media, ya’ll”
— Tom Krasniqi (@TKras) October 2, 2013
Penn would go on to explain that he feels Freeman’s character is being unfairly attacked by the media, who is reporting and talking about these stories.
And while Penn’s anger is probably somewhat misplaced (as I pointed out in my article outlining the reactions to the Freeman drama, which include former players and national media members “siding with Freeman” and questioning the Buccaneers and the person who leaked the information), it’s proof that he is still sticking up for his now somewhat alienated teammate.
Davin even offered his support for Freeman when it was announced he missed a team photo and was late for meeting, admitting that he, too, was late at times. In other words, no one was thinking twice about Freeman’s commitment to his team until recently, when he was “absent” from team meetings.
Which as Jay Glazer reported, were meetings that Josh Freeman was at least once asked not to attend. There is growing cause for concern that something really underhanded is going on in the Tampa Bay organization.
Josh Freeman’s benching was completely justified from a football standpoint, and Greg Schiano even stated in the press conference following the change at quarterback that it was a performance-based decision. But the growing amount of leaks and negative information about Freeman getting out to the media shows that someone still has something to prove when it comes to the Bucs’ former starting quarterback.
And judging by the quotes above, it’s not his teammates. That really narrows down the possible suspects, and none of the answers are encouraging for the future of the franchise under current leadership.