On Monday, we reported in the aftermath of a 41-0 blowout loss to the Saints, punctuated by a sideline brouhaha involving assistant coach Bryan Cox and linebacker Adam Hayward, that one member of the Buccaneers privately remarked after the game, “Can we send these coaches back to college?”
The story prompted a fairly quick response, with the team and multiple members of the Tampa media probing for more details, none of which were provided in the interests of honoring the promise of anonymity.
Now that the Tampa media has had a chance to ask the players about it, two days after the story broke, some players predictably have provided unrealistically sweeping denials.
“That’s a [expletive] made-up quote,’' cornerback Ronde Barber told the Tampa Tribune. “No one said that. I can promise you that.’'
I promise you that someone did, Ronde.
Who’s in a position to be more sure? The guy to whom it was told, or the guy who has no idea what his teammates have said in the hours after a frustrating shutout loss to one of their biggest rivals?That’s why we opted not to go with the same-old “we stand by our report” when asked for a response by the Tribune, choosing instead something far more pragmatic: “If Ronde is aware of every private communication in which his 52 teammates engage, that’s even more impressive than his Hall of Fame playing career.”
Our guess is that Ronde opted to react strongly due to speculation in the local media that he was the source. As his career in Tampa likely winds to a conclusion, it wouldn’t be the ideal way to make his exit.
Regardless, we won’t say who said it. But I promise you that someone did.