Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Until the Bucs do right by Matt Bryant things are gonna keep being shaky on field goals.

The Bucs cut ties with Bryant more than six weeks ago, ending the most successful kicking tenure in Tampa Bay history. The Bucs have portrayed it as a football decision necessitated by Bryant's hamstring injury in the preseason. Bryant, whose .831 field goal percentage is the best in Bucs history, says it had more to do with some pointed comments he made on a radio show.

There appears to be truth to both sides, perhaps more than either would like to publicly admit. But no matter where you point the blame, both have suffered from the fallout.

Bryant has spent the past two weeks with the Florida Tuskers of the UFL, hoping to impress some NFL team. The Bucs wasted more than $2 million on Mike Nugent, and now have Shane Andrus, who has never kicked a field goal in an NFL game.

"What makes it hard is the feeling that I should be out there. I look around the league, and I feel like I'm one of the best kickers out there. At least my stats have proved I'm pretty reliable," Bryant said. "I thought what I did on the field was pretty justifiable.

"But I guess it wasn't for the new GM."

This is where the story gets sticky. Bryant says it was general manager Mark Dominik's decision to release him, and Bryant believes it was because of an interview he did with morning show hosts Fisher and Boy on WSUN-FM 97.1 (97X) the day before the preseason finale.

Bryant, 34, seemed to suggest he wasn't getting a fair shot at the job. He also ridiculed Nugent's preseason performance, and mocked his $2.5 million in salary and bonus. A day later, Bryant said Dominik told him he would not kick as expected in the final preseason game.

Bryant now seems to regret his comments, but only to a certain degree. At the time, he was angry Nugent had been offered a contract twice the size of his own $1.2 million deal.

"If you go back and look at that interview, what is there for anybody to be mad at?" Bryant said. "They asked who was going to be the kicker, and I said it could be me, it could be him, it could be somebody else. I said, 'That's your $2.5 million kicker.' I shouldn't have said that. But did I lie? No. You have to look at where I was coming from. I'd been with the organization for four years. I tried to be a positive aspect in the community. My performance on the field, I felt, warranted some respect, some confidence.

"When they signed him, I felt it was a vote of no confidence and a lack of respect."

Bryant has a point considering his body of work, and the size of Nugent's contract. On the other hand, he handled the situation poorly. Bryant has been in the league long enough to know competition for roster spots is a way of life, and he knew better than to criticize a teammate in public.

Did the radio interview play a part in his release? Yes, according to someone in the Bucs front office.

Look,I was one of the most boring interviews every back when I was playing. I was old school in that regard in that I felt like the less rope you gave the media to hang you with the better. So I can understand being upset about what Bryant said but give me a damn break here. The NFL is about winning games and Bryant has won more than a few for us in a Buccaneer uniform. The truth is that he was right about Nugent as we have seen to start off the season. Being that the new guy missed a 43 yarder the other day, obviously the problem hasn't been fixed. Matt Bryant is a good guy, he is great in the community and he has given a lot to this city as a Buccaneer. Its time to bring him back down the road and move on because the guy can still help us. Letting somebody's ego get in the way of winning is how folks get fired in the league.

Just sayin

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