TAMPA - One day after being verbally torched by Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman had his turn with the media.
Freeman said he was unaware of what Tarkenton had to say. When told that Tarkenton criticized his play as "God-awful," you could see Freeman was visibly hurt by the remarks.
He paused and then said, "Well, obviously he's Fran Tarkenton. His career speaks for itself. He's a Hall of Famer. But at the same time, everybody – they're entitled to their own opinion. The important thing is the people in this building – coaches, teammates. They've got faith, and they know who I am as a player."
Freeman took the high road. I don't think I would have been so kind to Tarkenton.
I was looking for a stronger response. Something like, "That's his assessment. I sure have a hell of a lot more faith in myself to be successful and plan on being successful this season."
Anything but the standard line of …"the important thing is the people in this building"…etc.etc.etc.
It's the same line Head Coach Greg Schiano used yesterday, but added the owners and management to the list of people who matter, who make decisions.
I do believe that Josh has all the physical tools to be an excellent QB in this league. I'm just not sold on what goes on between his ears.
Maybe I'm just reading WAY TO MUCH into this, but I find myself reverting back to my psychology studies in college.
Josh stands at the podium talking to us, always thinking about what to say next. Not to say that's bad, it's not. You can't take back what you spew out. BUT, it seems to take him a few hums and haws before coming out with his answer.
This is just me, and if I'm wrong, you can let me know, but here goes.
When I see someone who is slow to explaining or answering a question, I sense a lapse in time and confidence.
So, I say to myself- Self….if he is so methodical, slow to answer questions, how slow is his thought process on the field of play?
Schiano eluded to this very fact today. He says he wants to see good decisions made out there by his quarterback. "Fighter-like decisions" pilots have to make when being engaged. You see the opportunity and boom, you react.
Honestly, I've been looking for a more outspoken Josh at the podium by this time in his career.
But, he continues to be the nice, even-keeled, melancholy guy.
Maybe that's why he is rarely shaken out of the pocket on pass plays. He stands in there like a bull.
I've come to grips with the fact that's Josh and the heck with what I hoped he would be as the spokesman for this team.
I'm reminded by what Freeman said. "All that matters is what my teammates and coaches think of me."
Forget the "it" factor, I guess.
I never threw for four TD's and ran for another in my first game in the NFL like Fran Tarkenton. Heck, I never played in the NFL. I'm not a Hall of Famer in Canton.
I'm just a sportscaster who has seen and covered a ton of QB's in this league.
The successful ones were not afraid to speak their peace.
A little cocky, a little arrogant. Sometimes very arrogant. But sure of themselves.
So, I'm going to play Josh Freeman (without his permission) right now and end with this:
"Screw you, Fran."