Running back Jeremy McNichols became one of the major storylines for the summer’s final episode of HBO’s “Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers" when he decided to sign with the 49ers' practice squad.
McNichols was the Buccaneers’ fifth-round draft pick from Boise State. Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter, who was shown throughout the series chewing out McNichols, spoke with the rookie in his office on Saturday to tell he was waived. Koetter also made it clear he wanted McNichols back on the Bucs’ practice squad the following day.
The following scenes took place on "Hard Knocks," which aired Tuesday night.
Koetter to McNichols: “Jeremy, this is the one I’ve been looking forward to the least. OK? Because I didn’t see this coming. All along, I had you penciled in as making it. You’re good enough to play in the NFL, but, you know, something is just not clicking right now. What do you think it is?”
McNichols: “Uh, I think it’s just actually grasping the playbook. . . knowing NFL defenses. Once I get that down like the back of my hand, like in college, I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.”
Koetter: “No, because I know you can do it. We want to keep working with you ‘cause I know what’s in there. We want you here, playing on the practice squad. If you don’t get claimed, do you want to come back here? Or are you saying, ‘I can’t wait to get the hell out of here?’
McNichols: “No, I want to come back. I think this is a good spot for me. I like culture. I like you guys, the coaches.
Koetter: “We like you, too. Don’t think just because I scream at you sometimes that it doesn’t mean I don’t like you. It means I want you to get better. When I stop screaming at you, that’s means I gave up. OK, I’ll talk to you. Good luck. I want you still here."
The following day, Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht was informed that McNichols decided to instead sign with the 49ers’ practice squad after he was not claimed on waivers.
Licht, on the phone with Koetter: “McNichols got his feelings hurt. If he’s going to mope and complain about being taken out of the game when he just made one mistake, we don’t want that kind of (expletive) anyway.”
A short time later, Licht received comfimation from Bucs' director of player personnel John Spytek that McNichols was gone.
Spytek: “He bailed.”
Licht: “He did? All right. (Expletive!)”
In the parking lot on his way out of the Buccaneers’ practice facility, McNichols stopped to explain his decision on camera before driving away.
McNichols: “I decided to go to the Niners. Just think it’ll be a new start. Got a chip on my shoulder, so the only way to go is up.”