When the Buccaneers walked off the field in Detroit the day after Christmas knowing they had secured their first playoff berth in 12 years, the high-fives, hugs and congratulations were scattered all over the locker room.
But one player in particular got more teammate love than any other – and rightfully so. That’s what happens when you are the longest tenured player on the team and someone who has never experienced the intensity and spotlight of an NFL playoff game.
Bucs star linebacker Lavonte David is experiencing his very first playoff preparation week and spoke to the media on Tuesday, talking about the sense of urgency as the team gets ready to take on Washington on Saturday night.
“Obviously, this can’t be a normal game because it’s sudden death, basically,” David said. “If you lose, you’re out. And if you win, you keep on moving forward. Our whole mindset is focus on us and forget about everything that happened the last 17 weeks. It’s a new start. It doesn’t matter [what] a team’s record [is and] it doesn’t matter how they got here. They’re here, so they’re going to give you their best and we should put our best out there. It’s definitely going to be fun to be a part of – to feel the atmosphere, the intensity that being in the playoff brings. Definitely have to be able to focus on what we focus on and just try to end this thing with a victory Saturday night.”
Since being drafted in 2012, the day after the regular season ended, David and his teammates were cleaning out their lockers, tossing stuff out and taking home their possessions. For the first time since entering the NFL, things are different for David.
“It means a lot. It’s huge. The past eight years, I haven’t been in this position,” David said. “I’ve been in a position where I was having my exit meeting and getting ready to head on to what I need to do in the offseason. It’s different now. I was kind of joking around about it after the game, but it’s different now. This is what I’m here for – to be able to compete in the tournament. It’s finally here and now I have to do what I have to do [and] the team has to do what we have to do to continue to survive.
“The level of excitement is crazy, but at the same time, you know what’s at stake. You can’t get too high and you can’t get too low. We just have to go out there, try to forget about everything that happened in the past and focus on right now. Every day, the moment is right now and we’ve got to be able to stay in that moment.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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