The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been locked in a dramatic soap opera with former starting quarterback Josh Freeman for weeks now. It came to a head today with their toxic relationship finally splitting as the team released Freeman after weeks of bitter back and forth between the organization and their former franchise quarterback. It has been a complete embarrassment for the Bucs’ franchise but they have nobody to blame for this situation but themselves.
For three years, Josh Freeman was the starting quarterback and captain of the football team without a problem. His production on the field had started to slip with turnovers become a bigger and bigger issue each week, but plenty of young quarterbacks go through similar growing pains. Somehow this season, Freeman became a toxic sinkhole for the entire team and the Tampa Bay was sure to let everyone know about it.
First, head coach Greg Schiano made it public that Freeman had missed a meeting and the team picture because he was late. Freeman didn’t take getting called out in public all that well, but that didn’t stop the team from running with their public shaming strategy against their former quarterback. Schiano benched Freeman in favor of rookie Mike Glennon before eventually deactivating him entirely and forcing him to watch the game from a suite far away from the sideline and the rest of the team.
But it didn’t stop there. According to reports, Freeman wasn’t allowed to watch the entire game and was asked to leave the suite. To add to it, someone within the organization leaked Freeman’s involvement in Stage 1 of the NFL drug program to the media, marking a huge violation of Freeman’s privacy and striking a major blow to his character. Freeman defended himself, telling members of the media that he was in the program voluntarily for prescribed medications, but the damage was already done.
The Bucs didn’t stop there, either. This week, they asked Freeman not to show up for a meeting after allowing him to participate in practice (allegedly to make his teammates think he skipped out). They also told the world that they had fined Freeman multiple times this season, including once for an unauthorized interview with the media (where he defended himself for getting outed as part of the NFL drug program). At every step, they have done everything they can to make Freeman look like a bad guy who deserves to get buried by his own team.
And then Tampa Bay acted surprised when they weren’t able to get any other teams to trade for Freeman. After weeks of assassinating his character and telling the world what a bad person he was and how cancerous he was to the locker room of the Buccaneers, what did they really expect? You can’t spend all your time cutting a guy down and then expect others to offer something up for him. In this case, Tampa reaped what sewed and in the end had to cut Freeman with nothing but bitterness to show for it.
There could have been something salvaged from the doomed partnership of Freeman and Schiano. The former first-round pick has shown flashes of ability early on and could have been an attractive project for a team with a need to bolster their quarterback ranks. But after vindictively cutting Freeman down time and again, the Bucs get exactly what they deserve out of this situation; Nothing but criticism.