Josh Freeman’s has given us another reason to understand why he is number one on the All NFL Value team.
Buc fans should be grateful. This young quarterback is doing what Roger Goodell won’t allow Raheem Morris or Mark Dominik to do.
If there is an NFL season before we flip the calendar to 2012, the Bucs will be as ready as any team in the league and they can thank Mr. Freeman, a 23 year-old quarterback with two seasons under his belt who already shows more maturity than Brett Farve.
No team in the league gets more out of the dollar than Tampa Bay gets from its quarterback.
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Freeman won more hearts this week just as much as he did last year when he used his magic to escape behemoth linemen bent on destroying him and his brash teammates, who had the audacity to believe they could win 10 games.
But Freeman knows something his teammates might not be aware of. The second trip to 10 will be more scrutinized and harder.
He is not taking any chances.
The Bucs had their first “mini-camp” of Goodell’s off season of the be darned on Tuesday.
It wasn’t official, but it seemed that way when the team gathered at the IMG Academies and went through workouts on a hot, humid day more suited for the beach and a couple of cold ones.
Freeman made this possible because he went where few professional athletes are willing to go these days -- into his pocket and his heart.
Freeman paid for much of the Bucs three days of workouts, according to some of his teammates. A few other players might have helped, but the quarterback was basically footing the bill.
He was also the one making the phone calls to persuade his teammates to come.
He made an offer they couldn’t refuse. No one wanted to get on the wrong side of Michael Corleone and it seems we can say the same about Mr. Freeman.
This is no easy thing. Freeman doesn’t take home the kind of paycheck that Peyton Manning and Tom Brady deposit into their bank accounts.
They are light years ahead of him, but he seems to better at selling the value of blood, sweat and tears.
Freeman reportedly earns less than most of his teammates with a 2010 base salary of $395,000, which is why Sports Illustrated put him number one on its NFL All-Value team.
He didn’t get the kind of money that went to the quarterbacks drafted ahead of him in 2009, Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez. And USA Today reported that his 2009 salary ($1.3 million total) even ranked below former Bucs quarterback Bryon Leftwich.
But Freeman knows how to get the most out of a “Buc.”
“We didn’t come here to sit around and look pretty,” he said. “We came out there to get some work in. This is how it’s going to be when training camp starts. These guys know that we have to come out and work so there is not really a whole lot to say.”
Nobody can think about looking pretty when sweat is pouring down their face like a damn that just burst and the ground feels like you are walking barefoot on coals.
But Freeman is selling a dream and his teammates bought into it or were afraid to say no.
The quarterback didn’t have to do any of this; the phone calls and providing the cash to help the players, particularly the younger ones who haven’t earned their first NFL check yet.
“For sure, it’s a quarterback’s job (to get this done),” Freeman job. “They voted me team captain last year. I take a lot of pride being the leader of the team and it’s something you have to do. I had to make a lot of phone calls. Some say they’ll call you back and they don’t get back and you have to call them back.”
Freeman said the fundamental drills he planned for this week are about the same as what the team does with the coaches. It was the bonding that was important.