Commentary | Playing poker against Bucs head coach Lovie Smith is not for the timid

adell@bradenton.comMay 11, 2014 

TAMPA

With the NFL Draft tucked to sleep for another 12 months, here is what we learned about Lovie Smith.

You don't want to play poker against the Tampa Bay Bucs head coach.

Smith will bluff the socks of your feet and steal that fancy pinstriped suit hanging in your closet while you're counting your toes to make sure you still have 10.

Remember just a few days before the draft when the NFL world was a in a frenzy amid rumors the Bucs were going to trade up and get Johnny Manziel?

The smoke had not even settled on the first night of the draft when the Bucs had a chance to get the quarterback with the seventh pick without giving up a thing and passed.

We eventually learned the Bucs never had any in

tention of putting Johnny Football in pewter.

Lovie had a love affair with the other guy in the Texas A&M huddle and made receiver Mike Evans his choice.

But Smith wasn't finished.

He lit up the sky around Tampa Bay when he declared Mike Glennon was the Bucs quarterback of the future.

It made the Johnny Football to Tampa chatter a bedtime story.

Give it to Lovie. He knows how to push the buttons on people who carry the news.

With the words "I love Mike Glennon. Mike Glennon is our quarterback of the future here," Glennon's trade value shot through the roof of the New York Stock Exchange.

You can't help wonder what the Bucs would've done if they had a chance to draft Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr.

Now we are not calling Lovie a liar.

He is an honest, church-going man, but when it comes to playing high-stakes NFL poker, bending the truth is an accepted art form.

Smith and Bucs GM Jason Licht said they took the best player available in selecting tight end Austin Steferian-Jenkins and running back Charles Sims in the second round and third rounds, respectively.

But would they have done the same if Bridgewater or Carr were available when they picked second?

Smith told us Darrelle Revis was going to be part of the Bucs defense and then released him. He said troubled receiver Mike Williams was going to stay with the Bucs and put him on a bus to Buffalo shortly afterward.

The other night, he said in Josh McCown and Mike Glennon he has his strongest quarterback duo ever.

Really?

Better than McCown and Jay Cutler?

Would you take Glennon over Kyle Orton or a healthy Rex Grossman?

But Smith made a mistake.

He said he loved Glennon.

If the coach had said he liked Glennon and the young man could very well be the Bucs quarterback of the future, we would've believed him.

The love was too much to swallow.

Smith acquired McCown and declared him Tampa Bay's starting quarterback before Glennon had a chance to call former Bucs coach Greg Schiano to plan his escape.

The Bucs play in a division that features quarterbacks Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan. Neither McCown nor Glennon have proven to be better than any of them.

It's time to call Smith's bluff.

But you know he has an out.

If a new quarterback falls into the Bucs' laps, he can say you never turn down a chance to improve any position.

And maybe he meant the future as a day, a week, a month or even a year.

In the end, Smith will push those poker chips back in your face and double the pot.

Then you know you don't ever want to sit across the table from the soft-spoken man with a heart of gold and a warm smile.

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

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