Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Man Up Raheem

I happened to be checking out Pro Football Talk and there was a story there about Byron Leftwich keeping his captain status. I figured that was a good look and I wanted to read the story. Well the post actually had two parts. The first part did indeed talk about Leftwich continuing to hold the title of captain. But in the second part it seems that Coach Raheem Morris took a shot at Coach Tony Dungy.

Morris also addressed the general struggles that the team has faced through three games, using some questionable reasoning.

"[W]hen [Tony] Dungy was here, they were starting slow every year," Morris said. "They would be 0-3, 0-1 or 0-4 and they would run off six or seven wins, take their team to the playoffs, go 9-7, and lose to the Eagles. That was just the nature of the beast around here."
Ugh. If our eyes aren't deceiving us, Morris seems to be saying that it's OK for the 2009 Bucs to be 0-3 because the Buccaneers under Dungy typically dug a hole and then crawled out of it, only to peter out in the first round of the playoffs.

That's not how we remember it. Because that's not how it went.

In 1997, the Bucs started off 5-0, finished 10-6, won a playoff game over the Lions, and lost in the divisional round to the Packers.

In 1999, the Bucs started 2-1, went 11-5, won the NFC Central, and nearly beat the supposedly unbeatable Rams for a berth in Super Bowl XXXIV.

In 2000, the Bucs started 3-0, a far cry from 0-2.

In 2001, the Bucs started 2-1, finished 9-7, and lost to the Eagles in the playoffs.

Indeed, the only year the Bucs went 9-7 and lost to the Eagles in the playoffs was 2001, Dungy's last year with the team.

The bigger problem is that Morris seems to think that the 2009 Bucs are simply going to wake up from an 0-3 nightmare and reel off a bunch of wins simply because he incorrectly recalls that losing early and winning late was the modis operandi during a completely different era in the franchise's existence.

Now being as that I was a part of every one of the six years that Coach Dungy coached here in Tampa, I feel more than qualified to speak on this. And what Raheem Morris said was damned disrespectful not only to Coach Dungy, but to all of the guys who helped to set a new standard of excellence with the Buccaneers during those years. Instead of focusing on his own shortcomings he seems to feel like if he convinces everyone that Tampa's teams just always start slow then they will give him a pass. Well not only is he wrong on his history but really who the hell wants to explain away their failure by implying its "just how things are done down here"?

I have to wonder why Morris was so willing to take an erroneous shot at Coach Dungy in the first place. He hasn't coached this team since 2001, so why, if Raheem wanted to take a shot, didn't he do so at Coach Gruden whose tenure at least might have been relevant to the conversation. Indeed in 2002, the year the Bucs won the Superbowl, Gruden's Bucs DID start off the season slow then went on a late season run which they carried over into the playoffs. I will leave it up to people smarter than me to figure out the man's logic.

Here is what I do know however, Coach Dungy is owed a public apology from Coach Morris for what he said and to a certain extent so are those of us who turned the Bucs from a laughingstock to a powerhouse during Coach Dungy's tenure. I hear that Coach Morris is big on accountability, how he handles his own erroneous statement will say a lot about whether he practices what he preaches.

1 comment:

  1. In 1997, Raheem Morris was 21. What could he have known about the "nature of the beast" around the Bucs organization?