Bucs fans and SR’s Fab 5 readers expressed their admiration for Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans, who is off to a hot start in the 2016 season, and their disdain for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. What does PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds have to say? Find out right here.
Welcome to another installment of SR’s Fab 5 Reaction where each week I take the time to answer your questions and respond to your comments from the previous week’s SR’s Fab 5 column. Due to time constraints from my responsibilities as publisher, I am unable to respond to every reader comment each week, but I do read every one of them.
Comments have only been edited for clarity and grammar. Now on to your comments.
Nice Fab 5, Scott. It’s kind of amazing to think that Mark Carrier and Kevin House are still the Bucs’ all-time receivers. I wonder how they stack up against all-time receivers from the other 31 teams? Sadly, I bet they are near the bottom of that list; showing the futility of the franchise over the decades.
I appreciate Mike Evan’s drive to be All-Pro. I would take him any day over Odell Beckham, Jr. The Bucs couldn’t afford to replace all of those kicker nets, anyways.
The ratings decline is an interesting one, and the Colin Kaepernick issue wouldn’t stop me from watching football. But I think about how I really enjoyed watching the NBA back in the Lakers and Celtics era, and the Pistons era, then the Bulls, but after that … something changed. Teams just became mercenary squads, going to the highest bidders. Owners were buying championships.
The NBA went from the feeling of being an institution to the feeling of just being a business, and I’ve lost interest. I was a Heat fan from the beginning in 1988 with Rony Seikely and Sherman Douglas and really loved watching that team grow up together. Then Pat Riley came in, traded everyone away and bought stars and eventually won championships, but I never had as much joy for that team – even though the LeBron James years, as when the finally made it to the playoffs for the first time against Atlanta and they lost in the first round.
Same thing with the Bucs – Tony Dungy (and Sam Wyche) built this great foundation that every Bucs fan endeared themselves to with Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Warrick Dunn, Mike Alstott, etc. and starting that ascent. The Super Bowl was great, but the NFC Championship Game in Philly was my peak moment as a long-time Bucs fan.
After Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen started really turning over rosters year after year, it took something away from my enthusiasm for the team. I think that this has happened league-wide and I think it is starting to chip away at general feeling that the NFL used to be an institution, has become more of a product. – e
It is crazy to think that not only have the Bucs’ receiving records stood for nearly three decades, but also that James Wilder’s all-time franchise rushing record of 5,957 yards on 1,575 yards from 1981-89 also stands to this day. Tampa Bay has invested some high draft picks in receivers over the years – a first-round pick in 1997 in Reidel Anthony, a second-round pick in 1998 in Jacquez Green and a first-round pick in Michael Clayton in 2004 – but none came close to living up to their draft billing.
Mike Evans is the real deal, though. With two more touchdowns against San Francisco, he’s on pace to catch 16 touchdowns this season, which would break his franchise record of 12 set in 2014.
I too was an NBA fan. I loved the Lakers back when it was team ball. There were star players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy and my favorite, Magic Johnson, but the role players were just as interesting. Guys like Kurt Ramis, Mychal Thompson, Byron Scott and Michael Cooper made the Lakers more than just Magic and Kareem. The same could be said of the Celtics, Pistons and Bulls teams you referenced.
But then the NBA did go the mercenary route you described and I too lost interest. It became more about Kobe Bryant rather than the Lakers and more about Kevin Garnett than the Timberwolves. The emphasis on the team was gone and players began to switch teams so fast through trades and free agency that my head began to spin. I watch very little NBA these days as a result – and only in the playoffs. I haven’t watched a regular season NBA game in well over a decade.
You do have a point with Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen hitting free agency too hard and not drafting well. Players like Jeff Garcia were viewed for what they were – a hired gun for a season or two. It’s hard to build fan loyalty that way.
I think Jason Licht has done a much better job, and re-signing homegrown talent like Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Doug Martin, and drafting star players like Jameis Winston, Kwon Alexander and Evans also helps create fan favorites like the Bucs had back in the late 1990s. The good ol’ days are coming back. – SR
Enjoyed the Fab 5, Scott, as always. Very interested in improving the receiver corps like so many fans. We need a guy with good hands and game breaking speed, obviously.
I keep thinking if only Joey Galloway and Mike Evens played in the same era. One can dream. Hate to be talking the April draft so soon but will be looking forward to much more of it come February. – Garv
Thank you, Garv. I try not to delve too much into draft discussion during football season, especially when anything can happen for Tampa Bay at 3-3. But many folks like myself watch both NFL and college football, and with wide receiver being a serious position of need, I thought it might be helpful to throw out some names to know for those interested in checking out some draft prospects in real time as the college football season begins to wind down. – SR
Jameis Winston throws a lot of jump balls, so I’m more concerned with body control, hands and ability to make people miss than I am with raw speed out of our receivers. To that end, Josh Reynolds, Cooper Kupp and Corey Davis looked the best to me.
However, given that Reynolds will likely go in the first round, I need to see how he does against Alabama this weekend before I’m confident saying he’s worth that high of a pick on a team with this many defensive holes. – LordJim
I like all of the names you mentioned, LordJim. Texas A&M’s Josh Reynolds was held to two catches for 27 yards by Alabama, but did score a touchdown. Keep in mind that the Aggies only threw for 164 yards against the Crimson Tide’s stingy defense.
I don’t think Reynolds – despite having an awesome last name – is a first-rounder, but he would certainly help Tampa Bay’s receiving corps. I know Mike Evans, a fellow Aggie, would love to see him drafted by the Bucs. – SR
Roger Goodell is definitely overdoing his job, and the rule changes are ruining the game. People watched football for the big hits and the entertainment, and he is changing both – limiting the celebration and completely taking away the big hits.
The concussion issue brought some changes to light but I think he went overboard with the changing of the rules. Penalizing defenders for hitting players in the helmet that curl up is stupid and I think the casual fan is started to leave as a result.
Then you factor in a lot of people watch for the TD celebrations but that’s so monitored and restricted these days that even that aspect has changed. It’s just one pointless rule after another and now the product is starting to suffer.
Lastly I don’t think people like Goodell because he doesn’t appear to be fair in how the rules or policies are enforced. In one breath he speaks about protecting the players, and QBs in particular, but then you watch clips of Cam Newton getting rocked in the head with no call.
He talks about the whole domestic violence thing and how serious that is, which it is, but you can’t rule with an iron fist like he did with Ray Rice but then turn a blind eye to the Josh Browns of the world, who admitted in court that he had struck his wife. This combination is what is ruining the NFL.
Goodell needs to watch the college game, see how they let the players play and realize it is football at the end of the day. Increase the padding and stress the importance of proper tackling, but this watered down flag football that some football games turn into is the main reason most people are choosing to watch other things. – stlbucsfan
You bring up some great points, stlbucsfan. I agree with all of them, which is why I picked your post for this week’s edition of SR’s Fab 5 Reaction. I remember when big hits were glorified by the NFL, and that was part of the attraction of the game. Mankind has always adored brutality in sport, from the days of ancient battle in the Coliseum in Rome, to boxing to MMA fighting. Watering the game down to flag football is not going to fly, as you suggest.
I’m not looking for players to get injured, but NFL players do know the risks associated with the sport and are paid handsomely to play a kids game. I remember writing about how John Lynch knocked out his brother-in-law, Bears tight end John Allred, and finding some charm and and even ironic humor in that play back in the 1990s. Lynch, one of the greatest Bucs heroes, would be a penalized villain in the modern day NFL, and that’s a damn shame. – SR
Excellent Fab 5 for a bye week! Thanks for writing Fab 4 without taking a personal stance on the controversial Colin Kapernick anthem-kneeling. It’s eloquent journalism for you to do so without demeaning the man with irresponsible nicknames or statements of false pretense, even after previously sharing your negative opinion of his dissent. Kudos for understanding that this kind of sensational trash talk is only divisive to your loyal fans and only cheapens the quality product you offer to Bucs fans from all walks of life. – BKNYfootballhead
An irresponsible nickname such as Captain Kneeldown? I would never do such a thing. I’ll let my journalistic integrity trump my personal opinions on this one. Thank you for the kind words, BKNYfootballhead. I do appreciate them. – SR
I found it interesting that Aqib Talib said: “With receivers, there are some guys where you either have this huge catch radius or you don’t. There’s nothing you can learn in the NFL. If you go watch (Mike) Evans’ tape from seventh or eighth grade, I bet he’s doing the same thing, catching jump balls, running past people, catching deep balls. It’s just that catch radius that makes him special.”
After reading that he didn’t play football until his senior year of high school, imagine how great he would be if he had started earlier. Also ironic that at the beginning of the year everyone was saying how great Jameis would have it with three receivers (counting tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins) that were 6-foot-5 or taller. Unfortunately, it is now down to one. – Randy H.
Great point, Randy H. Mike Evans only played three years of football – one year in high school and two years at Texas A&M – before coming to Tampa Bay. Now he’s in his third NFL season. I think Evans is just scratching the surface of how good he can become. The kid just turned 23 in August, too.
Alas, Vincent Jackson’s season-ending knee injury and Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ dismissal have broken up the Dunkaneers. It’s time for Jason Licht to find another big wide receiver to pair with Evans.
Although there are some rumors about the Bucs possibly trading for Torrey Smith (6-0, 205) or Chicago receiver Alshon Jeffery (6-3, 218), don’t buy it. Smith’s price tag doesn’t match his production, and Jeffery is slated to be a free agent after signing the franchise tag this year. If the Bucs are going to invest heavily at the receiver position, it will be re-signing Evans to a lucrative contract extension within the next year. Look for Tampa Bay to draft a receiver – perhaps one that I featured in last week’s SR’s Fab 5 – in 2017. – SR
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org