FAB 2. Evans, David, Dotson Show Loyalty
College football has the transfer portal where players that don’t like their situation can transfer to another team these days.
But did you know that the NFL has its own transfer portal, too?
It’s called Twitter and Instagram where players can go online and unfollow their own team and spout off about their unhappiness.
In some ways, I think Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy was right when he was railing about millennials last year. We seem to be living in a front-runner society with an entitled generation that received participation trophies and seems like it wants to bail at the first sign of adversity when the going gets tough rather than to stay and fight.
There was a report on ProFootballTalk.com that multiple Dolphins players wanted out of Miami after a 59-10 loss to Baltimore on opening day. Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was the team’s first-round draft pick just last year, was traded to Pittsburgh this past week as a result. There could be more Dolphins leaving Miami soon.
Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey looks like he’s going the insubordinate player route to get his way out of Jacksonville. He might have played his last game in Duval County on Thursday night.
The “insubordinate play” was a move that wide receiver Antonio Brown gave a master class on this summer in Oakland after being acquired in a trade for Pittsburgh between his frostbitten feet, his unreasonable helmet squabble to bailing on training camp practices and drawing fines of $215,000. The Raiders traded a third- and fifth-round picks for Brown during the offseason, then gave him a significant raise when he joined the team.
According to OverTheCap.com, Brown had three years left on his deal worth $38.925 million at the time of the trade. As a condition of the trade, Brown had his salary increased to $50.125 million with $30.125 million guaranteed.
But once he got to Oakland and saw that there wasn’t much talent and that the Raiders likely wouldn’t contend for the playoffs he leveled up on the insubordinate routine to finagle his release. Just hours after the Raiders cut him, New England swooped in and signed him to a one-year deal worth $9 million with a $20 million team option in 2020. The Raiders traded away third- and fifth-round picks for nothing, and are left without a star receiver.
Former Bucs wide receiver DeSean Jackson was vocal about his displeasure last year, stating that he didn’t want to be in Tampa. The Bucs wisely traded him in the offseason.
There are some NFL players that become malcontents unless everything is perfect, which means they have gotten paid top dollar, their team is winning, and if they are on offense they are getting the ball enough. If one or more of those things aren’t happening they want out.
Yet Lavonte David isn’t like that.
Neither is Demar Dotson, who is in his 11th year in Tampa Bay.
The same could be said for Mike Evans.
All three long-time Buccaneers have had their chance at free agency and the opportunity. None of them – not even Gerald McCoy, who spent nine years in Tampa Bay – spouted off to the media despite the continued losing. None unfollowed their team. Neither David, nor Dotson nor Evans has requested or demanded a trade.
All have decided to stay in Tampa Bay to fight to turn the Bucs’ ship around. The same could be said of left guard Ali Marpet and left tackle Donovan Smith, both of whom just re-signed with the team over the past year.
“No, I’ve never thought about leaving,” David said. “I just take what’s given to me and I want to be the best player I can be. I don’t take this stuff for granted. Any day it can be taken away from me. Obviously, I want to be a part of a winner, but I’m the kind of guy that when I commit to something I’m going to stick to it. That’s what I’m going to try to do. I can’t look ahead into the future. I’m only concentrating on this season and hopefully making the playoffs because I feel like we’ve got something special going on here.
“We’ve been through some good times, and we’ve been through some bad times here. We’ve got a lot of guys here that want to be part of the turnaround and do something great – not only for this organization, but for this city – that hasn’t been done in a long time.”
No players drafted in Tampa Bay have ever been to the postseason. Dotson, the longest tenured Buccaneer hasn’t played in a single playoff game. But this core group of Bucs wanted to be the ones leading the culture change in Tampa Bay.
“No, they didn’t want to leave at all,” Bond said. “Mike is a humble guy and we’ve got a lot of guys like that in this locker room, including Lavonte. I’ve been here for a few years. You want everybody to buy in and be all in for the team. Some guys aren’t like that, but it’s not like that here. Our core guys have all bought in and that really helps.”
Evans didn’t think of living Tampa Bay before he signed his contract extension last year.
“Some guys feel like their time is done in other places,” Evans said. “For me, I don’t feel like my time is done here. That’s why I wanted to get an extension. It wasn’t about the money. The money is awesome, but I wanted to stay here with my teammates like Jameis [Winston] and C.G. (Chris Godwin) and try to be a part of the change and bringing that winning culture back to Tampa. I feel like we’re off to a great start. We just have to keep it going.”
David understands why some NFL players bitch and moan to get out of their situations, but that’s not the way it is in Tampa Bay – in part because of his leadership and the willingness of others to remain in red and pewter.
“It’s freedom of speech, I guess,” David said. “But if people aren’t happy in their situations why not wait and try to turn it around? Some people just want to get out of their situation and go to a better situation. I respect every athlete. I’m an athlete and I know what they’re going through. I know losing can be mentally draining and it can be tough. But it shows toughness to stick it out.”