Laura Okmin Talks Schiano, Freeman & BarberJanuary 29th, 2013
Joe’s swirling around Super Bowl media day talking to players, coaches, agents and various NFL media types. Joe looks forward to sharing their takes on the Bucs in the coming days and weeks. Below is Joe’s interview with veteran FOX sideline cougar Laura Okmin, who has been working Bucs games for years. She shared interesting behind-the-scenes takes on Greg Schiano, Ronde Barber and Josh Freeman, who Okmin claims was distracted during the Raheem Morris era.
JoeBucsFan.com. You have a relationship with Ronde Barber? Do you think he’ll return for another season?
Laura Okmin: As much as I think I get sometimes a good sense of Ronde, I would have said when they let Raheem go that Ronde wouldn’t have come back. So In other words, don’t listen to me at all. But I think he’s coming back for another year. It would be one thing if he didn’t add much and he was just being used for leadership and a presence in the locker. But I think he was used a whole lot more than that this year. I think the way that he’s playing and always saying he’s enjoying this new role, he always says, about mentoring these kids. I’d surprised if he didn’t come back.
Joe: And he was productive. He almost made a Pro Bowl at a new position at 37 years old.
Okmin: That was what was so cool about watching him, is seeing him in a different position. One of the great things, I asked him about that, ‘what’s the hardest thing?’ I loved what he said. He said, “I get so excited to load the box. Anytime I get up there I just want to get in. That’s the hardest thing for me. I worried I’m going to tip off what we’re doing because I’m so excited to get in there.” So I loved that. At 37 you’re still excited about what you’re doing that you’re scared about tipping off the other team.
Joe: What was your impression of Greg Schiano?
Okmin: I’ll tell you what. I was so pleasantly surprised. Before the first game we did with him, I had never met him. I just knew the reputation, that he was a tough guy, and picturing sort of the Belichick vibe. Tough to know and a little more, you know, a wall up. We did a production meeting with Schiano and we all walked out of that room kind of looking at each other saying, “Wow. What was that? What a great guy?” And all the players talk so much, No. 1 about liking him, but also about everything he says about loving each other like a family and about trusting each other. And that surprised me, too, that it wasn’t just Xs and Os, which we know what a disciplinarian he is and what a tactician he is, but how much he cares about his guys and they really seemed to respond to it for much of the year.
Joe: Do you think Josh Freeman he will ever turn the corner?
Okmin: Yeah, I hope so. I think it’ll be nice to see him with some consistency next year and another offseason with this new season. I was just so impressed with Josh this year in terms of how much he’s changed mentality-wise. He’ll be the first to say he got a little caught up, not being a quarterback, but what you get from being a quarterback. And the weight that he lost and more of the makeover he did on the inside, how serious he’s taking it. So I know how hard he’s going to work this offseason. I know how much he’s going to put into it. I saw a different hunger in him this year and a different frustration with the turnovers and with the losing. I root for that kid on and off the field.