Welcome to The Hook, my weekly column that hooks you into a different Tampa Bay Buccaneers topic each Thursday, as well as some of my thoughts on the Bucs and the NFL at the end in a section called Cannon Blast.
I invite you to offer me some feedback on The Hook below in the article comments section.
Dear Glazer Family,
I don’t normally like to go over anyone’s head – and I hope your general manager, Jason Licht, and your director of football administration, Mike Greenberg, finds the time to read this letter as well – but something of this importance needs to be brought to the attention of the top people. And as owners of the franchise, there is no one higher.
Bucs owners Joel and Bryan Glazer – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
First of all, I hope this letter finds you and the family well, healthy and still feeling the excitement of the much-deserved Super Bowl win. No longer will you have to duck behind a marble column in the lobby of the Biltmore Waldorf Astoria Resort in Phoenix at the next NFL Owners Meetings when you see Robert Kraft coming down the hall. That’s right, no longer are the Buccaneers the laughing stocks of the NFL – instead your team is world champions. You should be very proud.
But with being the best comes the problem of other teams wanting a part of your magic formula. You dodged a big bullet when your fellow owners were impatient with your Super Bowl march and hired coaches without giving assistants like offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and brilliant defensive coordinator Todd Bowles a head coaching job.
Shame on them, but good for you.
However a bullet you won’t be able to dodge is teams coming for your star players. And man, will they.
Outside linebacker Shaq Barrett was a playoff sack machine. Rising star Chris Godwin is a future perennial Pro Bowl receiver. And there are even lesser-in-the-spotlight contributors but major components of your Super Bowl winning team like defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, running back Leonard Fournette and even your kicking-curse-solver Ryan Succop that will generate attention – and lots of cash thrown at them – by other teams. That is a byproduct of success and inevitable. And we all hope you find a way to keep them all in the fold.
But speaking for all Bucs fans everywhere, please – and I emphasize please – whatever happens this offseason, please make sure linebacker Lavonte David is part of this team until the day he decides to hang up his cleats.
David deserves to retire a Buccaneers. And to see him play out the end of his career wearing the uniform of anyone but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be a monumental failure like none we’ve seen before. Allowing David to go and prosper elsewhere will be a decision that haunts this organization for years to come.
Lots of years I’m afraid.
They say we should study history in hopes we don’t make the same mistakes of the past. While you were all young teens growing up in New York in 1982 and the Buccaneers were likely not even on your radar when they made arguably the biggest blunder in franchise history in allowing quarterback Doug Williams to walk as a free agent following the ’82 season. Was Williams the best quarterback in the NFL? Of course not. Was he even a Pro Bowler? Nope.
But Williams was the heartbeat of the franchise and helped this football rise from the ashes of 0-26 –and late night television host Johnny Carson’s jokes – to a playoff team that went to the postseason three out of the five years in which he was under center.
QB Doug Williams – Photo courtesy of The Buccaneers
I am sure then-owner Hugh Culverhouse thought Williams was replaceable. And in theory he was. By Jack Thompson, then Steve DeBerg, then Steve Young, then Vinny Testaverde, then Chris Chandler, then Deberg again, then Craig Erickson, then Trent Dilfer, then Shaun King, then finally Brad Johnson, who helped you win a Super Bowl. By the way, Williams went onto win a Super Bowl in 1987 with the Washington Redskins – and oh, so did Young and then Dilfer. All before the Buccaneers won their first title.
But it wasn’t just letting Williams walk away that haunted Bucs fans. How was a legend like Warren Sapp allowed to get away in 2004? How about headhunter John Lynch a year earlier in 2003? How does Derrick Brooks get released in 2009 and not be able to call his own shot when to hang it up?
When you glance up around Raymond James Stadium the names of your Bucs Ring of Honor members are highlighted in big, bold letters. You currently have 13 names of coaches and players whose contributions you felt were worthy of that a honor. And I don’t disagree with a single selection of those 13. But of those 13, seven (Williams, Sapp, Lynch, Brooks, Jon Gruden, Tony Dungy and Jimmie Giles) were all deemed expendable at some point by the franchise.
Don’t let David be No. 8 on that list.
I could go on and on about David’s Pro Bowl-caliber stats, his work in the community, the sacrifice of playing through injury, toiling on losing teams and so on, but I wouldn’t be telling you anything you don’t already know. David at age 31, is already a Top 10 Buccaneer of all time, maybe even Top 5. Players like David are rare. They don’t grow on trees. If they did I would have a grove full of top linebackers growing behind my house. And you would too, Glazer family.
Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: USA Today
I and Buccaneers fans all over the world implore you to do whatever it takes to keep David in red and pewter until he decides he’s done. We don’t even care if 35 years from now he comes running out of the tunnel with a walker or a cane. He deserves to be a Buccaneer as long as he chooses.
Some will argue you can’t keep a player past his prime – which David certainly is not currently. But I say with David, yes, you can.
If David still thinks he can cover a tight end like Travis Kelce, Jr. 20 years from now, let him.
If David thinks he can still wrap up Dalvin Cook, Jr, in 2041, let him.
David will know when its time to hang it up. But please, let David make that decision.
Mark J. Cook and all Bucs fans everywhere
Table of Contents
• I’m still in the heat of football withdrawals and look for at least one thing to watch each day to feed my addiction. This week I found Showtime’s Inside the NFL Super Bowl segment. I’m too cheap to subscribe to Showtime, but was happy to see they put this on YouTube recently and it is a real treat to watch this perspective along with commentary from Phil Simms, Ray Lewis, Michael Irvin and the other panelists. If you haven’t seen it, stream it to your television and spend an hour reliving the best thing you’ll probably see until the season kicks off next September.
(It will say video unavailable, but click the Watch on YouTube link and it will play.)
• Do you ever wonder what happened to some Bucs who were solid, but never really big stars? Maybe I’m weird, but from time to time I end up Googling old players to see if I can find any updates. I was thinking a few weeks back what happened to wide receiver Courtney Hawkins. When I starting hanging around as a media person back in the early 1990s working for Sports Radio 910, I got to know Hawkins, who was a second-round draft pick in 1992 and played nine season in the NFL with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.
Hawkins is now the wide receiver coach at his alma mater Michigan State after being hired for that position in 2020. Prior to the job with the Spartans, Hawkins was a high school head coach at Beecher High in Michigan.
I love the Internet.
• I caught up with former Bucs tackle Demar Dotson on Tuesday, as we had lunch at the Capital Grille at the International Mall (order the fried shrimp as a hidden menu item – trust me) and spent nearly two hours catching up, talking family, business ventures and football. Dotson wasn’t re-signed by the Buccaneers last offseason and his departure paved the way for the team to draft Tristan Wirfs in the first round. Or maybe the plan to draft Wirfs paved the way for Dotson’s departure. Either way, a long-time fixture in Tampa Bay had to find a new job in Denver with the Broncos. And man, did Dotson tell me an interesting story about what took place with the Broncos. We will save that for the Pewter Report Podcast in the next couple of weeks, as Dotson said he would join us.
Former Bucs RT Demar Dotson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
But back to Wirfs. Dotson said he watched the Bucs’ opening day loss to the Saints, and despite the team losing, he was thoroughly impressed with the rookie’s performance.
“He was so athletic and has great body control and a great base,” Dotson said. “After one game I knew this kid was going to be good. But one sack in 20 games and playing every snap? C’mon Mark, that isn’t supposed to happen.”
Dotson wants to play another season at least he told me, but as he said, at age 36 it throws up a red flag to NFL teams. But Dotson told me he stayed healthy and felt as good as he had in a number of seasons before signing with Denver.
In the meantime, Dotson is back in Tampa and is part owner of a terrific restaurant with locations in Tampa and in St. Pete called The Mill. If you haven’t checked them out yet, make sure you do. The Mill advertises with us, but I would brag on their weekend brunch even if they didn’t pay us to promote them. Make sure to check the The Mill ads on PewterReport.com and visit their two locations. Go here for more information on The Mill.
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, the beach and family time.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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