Commentary | Will Josh Freeman prevent Bucs from taking Johnny Manziel

adell@bradenton.comJanuary 12, 2014 


In some circles, Josh Freeman is the cause of nearly every catastrophe on Earth.

Dennis Rodman's ill-fated trip to North Korea? Blame it on Josh.

Tonya Harding's misguided attempt to win a gold medal? Josh was behind it.

Lance Armstrong, Alex Rodriguez? Josh made 'em do it.

Watergate? Josh's fault.

But now this.

The latest charge leveled against sleepy Freeman is that he is the reason the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won't take quarterback Johnny Manziel in this spring's NFL Draft.

Now you can blame Freeman for earthquakes, hurricanes and Lake Okeechobee going dry. But if the disgraced former Bucs quarterback is responsible for the team passing on Johnny Football, he will be Tampa Bay's Benedict Arnold.

Even Freeman can't sleep through that.

Manziel has signed with NFL agent Erik Burkhardt, who is Freeman's agent and thought by some as persona non grata at One Buc Place.

The conspiracy theorists reason that the Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, does not want to deal with Burkhardt because of Freemangate.

Burkhardt accused the Bucs of leaking personal medical information about Freeman, which sparked an investigation and eventually led to the quarterback's exile.

The investigation has never been completed, but was a public relations nightmare for the franchise.

A more important concern for Bucs fans is whether Manziel is the type of quarterback new head coach Lovie Smith covets.

Smith has been given final say over the Bucs roster and it's hard to believe the Glazers would nix an attempt by him to add Manziel.

He says he loves athletic quarterbacks and Johnny is athletic as you can get.

But the Bucs pick seventh in the draft, and Manziel could be gone by then.

So would Lovie trade up to get him?

Money triumphs over most things in the NFL, and Manziel will fill seats.

Sparano stays West

Smith has more important things on his mind after Tony Sparano pulled off his heist.

Sparano appeared headed to coach the Bucs dysfunctional offensive line because the Oakland Raiders wouldn't give him a two-year deal. He used the Bucs as bait. The Black and Silver relented, and Sparano got his two years.

An offensive line coach is critical for Smith.

He also has to be concerned about Dashon Goldson, the most overpriced safety in the league last season thanks to deposed Mark Dominik.

The former Bucs GM gave Goldson a $40 million deal over five years. In return, the former 49er allowed a quarterback rating of 121.4, the 14th worst according to Pro Football Focus, which rated him the sixth worst safety in the league. Smith should get the best out of Goldson, but not at $8 million per year.

Call to the Hall?

The nomination of three former Tampa Bay Buccaneers into the final list of 15 for induction into this year's NFL Hall of Fame proves Tony Dungy is among the best NFL coaches of all time.

But you have to wonder if Dungy's success will prevent him from being a first ballot hall of famer?

Inducted in 1995, Lee Roy Selmon was the first NFL Hall of Famer who played the bulk of his career with the Buccaneers until Warren Sapp last year.

Dungy, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch are among the 15 finalists this year. Five modern-era players will be chosen on the day before the Super Bowl.

Brooks appears to be a lock. It's doubtful voters will go for another Tampa Bay Buccaneer, though Dungy basically split his career between here and Indianapolis.

In 1996, Dungy took over a Bucs team that had suffered 12 double-digit loss seasons in the previous 13 years. In his second year, Tampa Bay was 10-6. In his six years, the Bucs made four trips to the playoffs.

During his seven years at Indianapolis, the Colts had 12 or more victories every season except his first (10-6). He took Indy to the playoffs all seven years and won five division titles. He won Super Bowl XLI in 2006, becoming the first African-American head coach to accomplish that feat. His overall NFL head coach record is 139-69.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.

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