Don’t Confuse Character And Business

August 3rd, 2010
Former Bucs DE Steve White

Former Bucs DE Steve White

By STEVE WHITE
JoeBucsFan.com analyst

Former Buccaneers defensive end Steve White (1996-2001) is a devoted student of the game, and White shares his knowledge with JoeBucsFan.com readers regularlly in his must-read Bull Rush column

Today, White breaks away from Xs and Os to set the record straight on the recent business rumblings of Barrett Ruud and Jeff Faine.

Driving home from Bucs practice at training camp yesterday I heard news that Barrett Ruud finally talked to the media about his disappointment over a lack of a new contract after Donald Penn got paid this weekend.

I think what Ruud said was ok, and he didn’t go over the top. But I then heard someone speaking about it and they turned it into a conversation about character. As in Ruud thought about holding out but it wasn’t in his “character” to do so.

On the flip side the argument was that for Penn it was about the money but for Ruud it’s about security.

Uhmm, what the hell?!

The money IS the security when it comes to playing in the NFL. Penn said a bunch of times that he wanted to end his career with Tampa and that it was ALSO about security for him, as well, going as far as to talk about how the injuries to Chad Jones influenced his decision to take the Bucs’ offer.

I was kind of leaning towards dismissing it until I saw a report from the St. Pete Times’ Stephen Holder that Ruud considered walking out of camp after he heard about Penn’s deal but his “character” wouldn’t allow him to.

Let’s get something straight right now. The NFL is a BUSINESS. Whether a guy chooses to hold out or not, if they really have out-performed their current deal isn’t a matter of their character, its a matter of BUSINESS!

The mistake Ruud made was signing his tender, which then allowed the Bucs to fine him if he did in fact hold out. It kind of got me wondering if he bought the false report the Bucs put out about their ability to fine restricted free agents even if they hadn’t signed their deal. Whether he did or he didn’t, once he signed he effectively gave up all of his leverage.

Now I happen to agree with Ruud that he deserves a new contract. I have even went so far to defend him against the talking point about making tackles 5 yards down the field. But him showing up and staying in camp doesn’t show that he has “character” any more than him holding out would have made him a “bad guy.” In both instances it would have been a business decision, and it’s bogus to view it any other way.

Why Not Shine The Character Light On Owners?

You know who never gets called out for a lack of character? Team owners who refuse to pay players that deserve it. Team owners who cut payroll even when their franchises are making loads of money. Team owners who cut or trade guys who were the cornerstones of their teams without so much as an explanation.

But do you ever hear anyone saying they showed poor character when those situations arise?

Nope.

Instead, the phrase “business decision” is tossed about. Well, holding out for a new contract is in the same category. Making it about someone’s character is not only wrong, it’s ridiculous. Nobody wants to be underpaid no matter what kind of job they have. Holding out is one of the only tools NFL players have to force a team to renegotiate with them. So everyone needs to chill with this “character” argument because it just doesn’t hold water.

Faine Shouldn’t Cast Stones

I was about to end this post when I happened to go over to JoeBucsFan.com, and I see this post about Jeff Faine weighing in on Ruud’s situation to FanHouse.com.

Faine, the player, sympathizes.

Faine, the suit, has a different take.

“I understand, but at the same time, [Rudd]‘s under contract,” said Faine, who hit the free-agent lottery after the ’07 season, his last with the New Orleans Saints. “If you’re going to have issues with the last year of the contract, don’t sign the contract. I’m really tired of [that]. … This is me, as a player — and we’ve been taught [by the union] not to talk about the league and guys around the league — but as a player in that position [last year of his contract] , I came to camp, I did everything. I could have easily done the same thing and held out for an extension and wanted a new contract … but I signed the contract as a rookie and that was the last year of my contract. If I didn’t want a five-year contract, I should have signed a four-year contract.”

Neither Ruud, a second-round pick in 2005, nor Penn, an undrafted free agent, could have foreseen the complicated CBA situation, but Faine’s point is that a contract is a contract. He’s played by contract rules on the football fields and been bound by them in the business fields.

So let’s unpeel this onion. First off, Faine does have a point in a sense. Barrett Ruud had the opportunity last year and this year to holdout for a new contract but he declined to do so. I happen to like his backup Adam Heyward because he gives you everything he’s got whenever he’s on the field. But the reality is he is not the caliber of middle linebacker that Ruud is and, thus, had he done what Penn did and not signed the tender, he would have had the same kind of leverage and perhaps a new contract.

He decided not to and when he made that decision he should have let it go. I don’t know where some players get this notion that teams are going to “do the right thing” if you just show up and play. History has shown that isn’t the case. But if it’s really about “character” as folks are trying to make it out to be, then that same “character” should have kept Ruud silent on the issue after he made the business decision to sign his tender and show up to camp.

On the other hand, however, what is Faine doing here? Is going public with his problems with Ruud’s situation going to help a team that was horrible last year in any possible way?

First off, he’s wrong on the details. Ruud DID play out his contract which is the reason he’s playing on a restricted free agent tender right now. Ruud was in line for a new contract, just like Faine was but the CBA situation precluded him from going out on the open market.

Besides that he goes on to say:

“Players complain when they get cut from a contract, but they don’t complain when they’re [under-producing] and already under contract. So it’s, ‘Hey, I’m already paying you $4 million this year — and you want more?’ You signed a contract.”

News flash Jeff, teams will ask players to take pay cuts when they under perform or are hurt and in some instances they release them if the salary cap allows it. And that is precisely the reason why players have to fight their butts off to get paid what they are worth when the iron is hot because the owners aren’t going to just give that money away and guys have to worry about their financial security.

Now I personally think Faine has played well since he has been a Buccaneer, but now might be a good time to remind him that since he signed his $37 million dollar deal here the team hasn’t made the playoffs and he hasn’t made the Pro Bowl. Considering his deal was the richest for a center in NFL history at the time, does that mean he has under performed? Should he be giving some of that money back to the Glazers, especially in light of last year’s 3-13 season?

See, that’s why its never good to talk about another guy’s contract status. Because then the spotlight gets shined right back at you.

And at this point it would probably be good if both Ruud and Faine took some STFU pills.

36 Responses to “Don’t Confuse Character And Business”

  1. McBuc Says:

    Great article Steve. I agree with everything you said.

  2. Sander Says:

    Great post, Steve. Couldn’t agree more.

  3. CreamsiclePasties Says:

    Great read Steve……..

    Don’t agree entirely….especially with this passage:

    “Now I happen to agree with Ruud that he deserves a new contract. I have even went so far to defend him against the talking point about making tackles 5 yards down the field”

    Ruud is above average AT BEST and completely replaceable (which he’ll find out first hand if he ever does get to test the FA waters)…..giving him big money would be a mistake. Obviously the impending lockout is playing into this as well (which you touched on)….guys want/need to get paid so they can afford not working for however long they’re without a paycheck next yr

    Ruud is nothing special….

  4. Greg Says:

    Steve, completely agree with the ending of your write up, Faine hasn’t exactly lit anyone’s hair on fire since he’s been here (although he did at least stop some of the bleeding when he came back from injury last year), and both guys need to STFU and play!

  5. Joe Says:

    Greg:

    While Jeff Faine hasn’t made a Pro Bowl with the Bucs, don’t forget what happened when Faine went down. (Hint: Sean Mayhem.)

  6. Gatorbuc15 Says:

    Just another great post by Steve.

  7. eric Says:

    These owners take the position that everything ought to be on hold due to CBA negotiations. But, I notice they don’t put a hold on the big TV money or the royatly deals, or the ticket prices, or the blackout rules, etc.,etc.,etc.

    Sorry Mr. Player, you gotta risk it all and wait to get properly compensated until we try and screw you over in the negotiations. All because we might get to pay your ass less later.

    Bunch of crap if you ask me.

  8. Radio Mushmouth Says:

    STFU pills?? I think it would be better if Rudd took some steroid pills, as weak as he is at the point of attack…

  9. RustyRhino Says:

    @ Steve
    Great perspective from a Players side of the Business, thanks.
    I have been down on him for saying not so much what he said but how and when he said it.

    STFU pills HAHAHAHA

    It is also know as S2
    SitTheFDown & ShutTheFUp

  10. Larry Says:

    I was thinking the same thing when I read what Faine said. WTF is he commenting on a defensive player for? I like Faine but he might have opened a can of worms that we really don’t need opened. The freaking haters will jump on those comments.

  11. Javier n Wimauma Says:

    Barrett Ruud needs to walk away from camp right now and hold out.

    He has the resume to sit out the entire season, and be signed by a team next year. He should do this on principle now. On character now.

  12. BigMacAttack Says:

    I totally agree with Radio Mushmouth. So many teams have these big, strong, fast MLB’s that are all over the field busting people in the mouth. We have Wittle Barwett Wuud. Watching Rudd play last year was nothing short of depressing. I hope this is Wuud’s wast season wif da Bucs. I like Heyward and he is 3 times the size of Wuud. As far as Faine goes, He should have pulled Wuud aside and smacked him upside his head instead of dogging him in the media. And Wuud just needs to shut up and play, and feel darn lucky to have a $3 Mill paycheck.

  13. bucfanjeff Says:

    Valid points Steve, you know the old saying, “don’t throw stones from a glass house.”

    Ruud is worth the money. If you don’t think so, tell us what available FA or upcoming FA, or upcoming draftee is better?

  14. Joe Says:

    Javier:

    Yeah, well if Ruud sits out this season he could likely miss next season if there is a lockout/strike, which is a very real possibility of happening.

    An NFL player has a limited window to make cash. No player is going to piss away two years of seven-figure salary to try to make some dumb statement. Ricky Williams blew off a year to smoke dope with the aborigines but he didn’t piss away two years.

    As Joe’s dad always said, “It’s one thing to be stubborn, it’s quite another to be stubborn and dumb.”

  15. CalicoJack Says:

    Steven Holder attributes some of the comments about possibly leaving camp to “representatives” and “sources”, not to Ruud himself…

  16. Matt Says:

    Very, very good article.

  17. FIRE GREG OLSON! Says:

    Steve White = the sound of reason.

    Although I disagree with the following statement:

    “But the reality is he is not the caliber of middle linebacker that Ruud is and, thus, had he done what Penn did and not signed the tender, he would have had the same kind of leverage and perhaps a new contract.”

    I’m fine with the Ruud is better than Hayward. Nothing tells us otherwise.

    However, the fact that Donald Penn is a LT and is protecting our young Franchise QB gives him far more leverage than Ruud ever could muster.

  18. BamBamBuc Says:

    Different sites give different stats, but since Ruud has been a starter he’s been around 100 tackles or more per year (under 100 only once in 07, his first year as a starter, and even then was close). He gets 1 or 2 picks per year and defends another 6 or 7. He doesn’t force a lot of fumbles, but did force one last year. These may not be the stats of an “elite” MLB, but they’re not bad. Last year he was 3rd overall for ILB (3-4 or 4-3) in tackles. Even last year with the “Bates Experiment”, he had 100+ tackles, a pick, a FF. In 2008, he had 3 sacks in the old Tampa 2 to go with the leading all ILB in tackles, tied for 6th in sacks, tied for 6th in INTs.

    Now, you can say those tackles were “downfield” if you want, but it’s only considered a tackle if it happens before the ball-carrier reaches the endzone… which means he prevented touchdowns over 100 times by himself each of the last 2 years. Sure, the opponent may have gotten a first down (which is much better than a score). I’d rather have a player that plays hard, doesn’t give up on the play when it gets by him, hustles to get back in and make a tackle. According to ProFootballFocus.com, about half of his tackles each year constituted defensive “stops”, which the offense failed to get a first down. Those numbers the past 2 years are also among the top of all ILB in the league.

    I’m not so sure I’d be willing to trust handing that over to some backup or bring in someone new to achieve similar results. They need to pay Ruud. He’s the “QB” of the defense? That should be just as important for the defense as QB or LT is for the offense. He has put forth the effort both offseason and during the season to deserve an extension.

    It wouldn’t bother me a bit if he walked out on the team at this point. It’s a matter of principle and business, not character. If it’s what it takes for him to get his extension, more power to him. I’d hate to not have him around come the season, but the team needs to pony up some dough for him.

    Yeah, he signed his tender, he’s under contract, they can fine him…. but there were also thoughts that he signed his tender before the draft in hopes of a “sign and trade” deal which never happened, and now he’s stuck with it or walk out.

  19. Javier n Wimauma Says:

    I doubt Ruud will WANT to come back next year. Not with the negative media protrayal (JP and others), the fans defaming his play, or the organization not giving his due.

    He will walk. The ONLY way to fox this is to pay him big before free agency. Otherwise, they will have to use the franchise tage on him.

    And if they don’t do either, he’s gone. But it is getting to the point that he may not re-sign period. And the only way to keep him will be soley through the franchise tag.

    Then the Bucs will need to put someone else at MLB.

    The Glazer’s want the cheap benefits of having a young roster, but they sure don’t seem to want to re-sign players from within without painfully prying those nuggets from their tight little hands.

  20. McBuc Says:

    @BamBam…I agree for the most part, but he should stick around and play as hard as he always does. He may see a contract before the end of the year.

    @Javier…Do you have some inside scoop with Ruud? If not, than you are just specualting. It is business and Ruud knows it. Try not to be so dramatic.

  21. Capt.Tim Says:

    Ruud is a very good MLB. He made alot of tackles down field last year because our Dts sucked so bad! Hovan( who had a great career with us!) could barely walk last year, much less play effectively! Sims played horribly, and should be banned from one Buc Place! The two DTs are at LEAST supposed to tie up the guards, so Rudd can make the tackle. Most plays, Ruud had the back AND both guards running free up the middle. Alot if his downfield tackles were preventing scores, as his “backup” help, Sabby, was wondering around lost somewhere in the middle of the field! No help in front or behind! The guy was the loneliest MLB I’ve seen in twenty five years if watching football! You don’t think he’s a great MLB- watch how fast every other team throws a contract at him! Oh, by the way, you wanna tell me who on our team is gonna replace him as the QB of the defense??

  22. Capt.Tim Says:

    Forgot- Mr. White, great insight and great read as always! Thank you for providing perspective from a players point of view! And Faine was Waaaay outta line with his comments! Rather hear from him why our running game sucked last year, and what him and his highly touted, yet unproductive limemates are doing about it, than him messing with somebody elses money!

  23. BigMacAttack Says:

    Cody Grimm, if he bulks up could be a future candidate for Ruud’s spot. he’s a smart kid with a lot of drive. Ruud has been pulling this whiny crap for 3 years now and as a fan, I agree with Faine. I’m sick of it. When you sign a contract, own it, live up to the terms of it, and be positive. It’s one year and after that Rud can do what he wants. But as a Buc, under contract, that he signed, he should recant his bogus statements and work as hard as he can to help achieve wins. Bad attitudes are like cancer. They infect others and spread like a rash. Dominick should pull Ruud into his office and straighten his ass out, read him the riot act and if Rudd doesn’t like it, pay him $3.2 Mill to sit on the bench and whither away. I wonder how Mike Shanahan would this. I bet Ruud would be right there with Fat Albert playing head games looking like an idiot. Ruud may understand the system, but since he became a Buc, it is apparent that he has made little effort to increase his strength or speed. When you look at guys like Graham, Black, Heyward and even Cadi, they have big arms, chests, shoulders, and you can see they are workout warriors. And people wonder why Ruud gets dragged down the field by Jonathan Stewart. He is to small and weak. I’m sorry but Barrett Ruud has gone downhill over the past 2 seasons. I hope they send him packing and I’d like to see one of the young backers step in and take his spot. I think the Bucs will be good and win despite Ruud, but He will continue to get his weak little ass dragged down field.

  24. Capt.Tim Says:

    Bigmac- if the Grimm reaper could bulk up, he would have! I doubt he sat around saying” everyone says I’m to small to play Lb, and I easily could add twenty pounds of solid muscle, but I feel I have better options entering the league as a 7 th rounder! I think I can “sneak up “on the NFL better as a last round pick!!” I like the kid, but neither the speed or the size to play MLB in the tampa 2! Only chance of playing anywhere but special teams is at Strong safety.

  25. BigMacAttack Says:

    Capt…and Barrett Ruud has size and speed??? I don’t think so. Grimm may be a long shot and most likely couldn’t do it, but he is young and can do it with the right work ethic and teaching. Ruud sucks compared to other MLB’s in the NFL. I’d rank him in the bottom 10 and don’t care what his bogus trumped up stats are. Just my opinion and I would have left it alone, but Ruud is the one who started running his suck, complaining. I have stomached this experiment the Bucs have tried and maintained a positive demeanor, or as much as possible, but that doesn’t mean I don’t agree with many things said by Eric, Thomas, Louie and some of the others that despise Raheem. I’m hoping for the best and right now giving them the benefit of the doubt, but Ruud really should shut the eff up. Not he no anyone else on this team, other than maybe Penn and K2 have any room to complain or whine about anything. This team totally sucked last season and Ruud was the leader of the Sucky defense that got trounced time and again. Remember the Jets game. Boy that was like a Pop Warner team playing an SEC powerhouse. So when I hear someone like Ruud who is getting paid quite well for his performance resume complain, it makes want to turn on them and join the haters. I’m still going to all the games and right now I’ll refrain, but I hope Dominick turns Aqib loose on Ruud.

  26. BamBamBuc Says:

    BigMac…. by leader of the Sucky defense, are you saying that if he didn’t have over 100 tackles, the other sucky players would have made the tackle anyway? or that we would have just given up another 20 or 30 TDs and who cares coz they sucked anyway? The whole team played poorly last year, offense and defense. It was disappointing seeing Ruud make tackles 5 or 10 yards downfield, but I’d rather have the tackle made there than not at all. Making that many tackles is not “trumped up” and it ranks among the best at the ILB position in the NFL each year.

    If a WR has 100 catches, but only 6 YPC that’s not very good, but he still caught the ball 100 times, a team could throw it to him twice and get a first down and move the ball downfield and score. It’s not different for a MLB. He made a load of tackles and his tackles stopped the offense over 50 times from continuing to move the ball downfield. More than most ILB in the league. I have never said he is one of the best MLBs in the league, but the stats say otherwise, and on a bad team where the SS can’t tackle and the DT’s can’t tie up blockers, he did a pretty good job.

    I’d also say Talib did a pretty good job. I would put Jackson in that group of “good job” but he was suspended the first 4 games when we needed his help against Dallas, Buffalo, and Washington. Those 3 were winnable, a few big plays killed us (and that’s what a FS is supposed to help stop). So really, there wasn’t much positive on D last season other than switching back to the Tampa 2. Ruud was one of the brighter spots on an abysmal defense.

    I know you won’t agree, and don’t really care if you do. But we both want the team to win, and right now Ruud is the best MLB we have. I wouldn’t be surprised if he walks after this season and he’ll be picked up rather quickly by another team, I’m sure.

  27. BamBamBuc Says:

    One other note… if Penn deserved his extension because he’s the second most important player on one of the worst offenses in the league last year, then I’d figure Ruud deserves an extension based on his performance on a horrible defense.

    Penn’s O-line last year helped that offense score the 3rd fewest points in the league. They were in the bottom third of the league in both rushing and passing. This was an O-line that also had Faine and Joseph (considered some of the better linemen at their position in the league by some). Penn gave up 5 sacks (Joseph also gave up 5 and Trueblood 8). He also gave up 32 QB pressures (putting him near the bottom of the league, and he’s supposed to protect our “franchise”????).

    Yet, Penn is worth a new contract and Ruud is not. I’m not sure I understand anyone’s thinking at this point. Ruud did well on a bad defense, give him a paycheck.

  28. topdoggie Says:

    Great read Steve. I’m just curious do you ever get in trouble for being so blunt when telling it straight? Keep up the good work.

  29. BigMacAttack Says:

    BamBam, I respectfully have to disagree. Ruud is mediocre, and how many tackles did he miss? Ruud plays a good game of chase, I have to admit. He also plays a good game of hide and go seek. I do not believe Ruud has given his best effort in the last couple seasons. I think he has let his contract dispute affect his play on the field. If you are happy with Ruud, more power to you, I am not. I believe this will be his last season here(not by his choice) and I don’t think many teams will seek his services. But as a Buc fan, that supports the team, in good times and bad, I would rather be wrong and win, than be right and lose. So good luck Barrett, but please honor your contract, bring it on Sundays, and shut your big fat mouth and let your play do the talking.

  30. BigMacAttack Says:

    BamBam, Donald Penn has faced the toughest defensive ends in the league over the past 3 years. He has consistently stoned them on pass rushes, pushed them to the ground and kept his QB’s backs clean 99% of the time. Garcia had happy feet and couldn’t find the pocket, much less see over the line at 5′-11″. Penn may be the most under rated LT in the league. The only way we will get a better LT is by a top 5 draft pick or free agent luck. It is an insult to Penn by even comparing Ruud’s play to his. Barrett Ruud has a myriad of excuses, DT’s, Safety, everyone else not doing their job. Pen has consistent results year in and year out. If Penn gave up 5 sacks with the zone blocking experiment, that still isn’t bad, and I did see Penn struggle with that, but how much was Zuttah or was there a back that didn’t make a chip, or was the play called just garbage where the defense swallowed it up.

  31. BamBamBuc Says:

    Since you asked, he missed 8 tackles (according to ProFootballFocus) which is tied for 34th among all ILB which is obviously not good. But then again, that means he made 109 and missed 8. Not a bad percentage. I’m sure there were many times he didn’t even have an opportunity to make or miss a tackle when he’s getting mauled by guards and centers.

    Now, if we’re gonna talk “missed tackles”, we’d have to talk about QB pressures allowed by Penn. And there are even excuses there. How many times did he give up a Pressure that would have been a sack if not for Freeman or Johnson using their feet to escape? 24 of the 32 pressures came in games that Freeman played. Looks like he was running for his life with his “protector” in the game. Penn did do better in 2008, but still gave up 8 sacks. Also, that could be attributed to the fact that Sears was next to him that year. Sears is much better than Zuttah. I think last year showed Penn’s true colors. He needs very good help inside to be successful. He’s not elite, he can’t dominate on his own. How many of those pressures or hits would have been sacks if it weren’t for the chips by the back or the TE?

  32. sgw94 Says:

    @topdoggie

    Nobody for me to get in trouble with ;)

  33. Capt.Tim Says:

    BigMac- Ruud is .6’2″, 242#. Cody Grimm is 5’11″, 202#. enuff said.

  34. Capt.Tim Says:

    On NFL scouting boards, the Majority have Penn as either the most talented, or second to Talib, player on the Bucs Roster. Ruud is between 4 and 7. He is considered a dominant Defensive Player around the league! You knuckle heads don’t Know what yer talking about!

  35. McBuc Says:

    I beleive FootballOutsiders has Ruud ranked as the 2nd best ILB in the NFL. It is crazy to expect him to shed blocks from OL size men all the time. With a better front four Ruud’s play will ellivate. It is like Steve White says, if you make 100 tackles you do not suck…or something along those lines. I have to agree with Bam Bam, we need to lock Ruiud up. There are plenty of teams that run a cover 2 style defense that would love to have him. You guys that say he sucks because of where the tackles were made ca not see the forest through the trees.

  36. BigMacAttack Says:

    All good points from you guys but we’ll soon see how Ruud does this season. Hopefully, he has a Pro Bowl year, we’ll see. I hope I’m wrong about him and I guess the Bucs’ opinion of Ruud is what really counts. If they feel he is as good as everybody thinks, he should get rewarded. I don’t think the Bucs think as highly of him as you guys do, otherwise he would have already been wrapped up. We’ll see….

 
 

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