Bull Rush: A Sit Down With Stylez White (Part II)

May 18th, 2010

Former Bucs DE Steve White

JoeBucsFan.com analyst

Former Bucs defensive end Steve White, a JoeBucsFan.com analyst, author and blogger, talked shop recently with current Bucs defensive end Stylez White (no relation). The result is a two-part feature that no Bucs fan will want to miss — much like all of Steve White’s Bull Rush columns.

Today in Part II, the feature shines light on defensive line coach Todd Wash, and Stylez White touches on how Warren Sapp’s and Simeon Rice’s words to him back in 2002 are still fresh in his mind, among other topics. 

You can read the excellent Part I right here


The conversation moved to defensive line coach Todd Wash, and Stylez White gave him a strong endorsement, albeit in his signature tongue in cheek fashion:

“I don’t like working with him cuz he makes me work hard (laughing). I’ll tell you that in a heartbeat,” White said. “I can not stand working for Wash. Wash makes you work so hard like we’re the only guys that be out there. …He’ll be like, ‘if we’re going to win it’s going to be because of us up front and I’m going to make y’all work harder than anybody on our defense so y’all can be that type of defense.’ And I’ll be real with you, the only thing he wants is the best out of me. But he be killing me. Like coach, take it easy man, I’m 30 years old laughing).”

“He also wants us to know what kind of plays are being run so when were on the sidelines we can communicate better. Like if you have a run block. Instead of saying you had 2 guys on you, well,  what kind of block was it? Was it a straight double team was it a rub block did they scoop you? He needs those terms so we can communicate with him. He makes us a better more well rounded football player so when we’re talking we can communicate better. ….He makes us work hard and we need it. we definitely need it.”

Considering there hasn’t been much about Wash from the mainstream media outlets here in the Tampa Bay area, it was definitely reassuring, to me at least, to hear such a high opinion of him from one of his best charges.

Rookies Need To Ask Questions

Our talk then turned to the two defensive linemen the Bucs spent their first two draft picks on: Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. I wanted to know how he felt he could help those guys. His reply was very interesting because he used himself as an example, and I thought he made a good point.

For those who don’t know or had forgotten, Stylez had a very circuitous route to the NFL. He was initially drafted by the Houston Texans but after that he spent time on at least five teams’ practice squad, including Tampa Bay’s.

He spent time in NFL Europe and two years playing Arena Football, one of which he was the defensive player of the year and broke the league sack record with 15. But for him it wasn’t about guys taking him under their wing. For him it was about watching some of the great ones he was fortunate to be around and then asking them a bunch of questions to help himself get better.

“When I came in in 2002. I saw how Simeon (Rice) worked and I would ask him questions. I saw how (Warren) Sapp worked and I asked him questions And they were all really good about helping out. I remember Sapp telling me that when you’re pass rushing you only want to deal with half of a body. He told me all you want to deal with is half a body because I know for sure my whole body will beat your half body. He told me that and that’s what I learned from him.”

“So I ask and go from there. What should I do? Can I do it this way? What about that way? So if I have any advice for the young guys I guess its to ask questions.”

I know that many of us, myself included, tend to overuse the notion of older players “mentoring” the younger guys, but as White pointed out, many times those guys have to be willing to ask for help. A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.

An Eye On Strahan

Even to this day Stylez continues to try to improve his own game by studying the moves of other great pass rushers past and present. He singled out Michael Strahan as a guy he really pays attention to because Strahan was a technician rather than a guy who relied heavily on just athletic ability or brute strength.

The point he made was that you can teach a guy how to use great technique and be a successful pass rusher, but you can’t necessarily teach a guy to run as fast as a guy like Dwight Freeney and then spin all over the place.

On a side note ,I asked him about using a spin move more this year, something that I really endorse for him, and after a little hesitance initially and a little prodding from me he gave me this classic quote: “If it’s going to help me get sacks, I’m on it. If I gotta breakdance to get sacks or more pressures, I’ll do it.”

One of Coach Morris’ tweaks to the defense after he took over was adding some 3-4 schemes to help get pressure in definite passing situations.

Stylez is that rare defensive end who is perhaps just as good rushing the passer on one side as he is the other, and he really seemed to take to rushing the passer from a stand up position, so I asked him about whether or not he was looking forward to doing more of that kind of thing this year.

“You know what, it was fun. It was fun. I like my hand in the ground though,” he said. “I’ll tell you that much, but it was fun. I’m looking forward to it this year. Its a different aspect of the game.”

Of course, if Stylez can show the versatility to stand up and rush the passer as well as playing a traditional 4-3 defensive end spot that will likely make him a more attractive target for other teams in free agency next year.

With the Bucs opting not to resign him at this point, I asked him about the pressure of playing for a new contract and if Tampa was going to be his first choice if he ends up hitting free agency at the end of the season. His answers were, in my opinion, exactly what most fans would want to hear from one of their favorite players.

“At this point I think I have a lot of pressure on myself but this is what I’m doing,” he said. “All I’m going to try to do is control what I can control. Being in shape, like I said I think I’m pretty good skillfully. Being quicker, honing my skills more.

“It’s pressure but its football. I’d rather have it. I’d rather have it where the game is on the line it be on me.”

Pursuing A Teammate Legacy

As for re-signing with Tampa being a priority Stylez told me, “There’s no question about that. This is where I want to be. Is this where I want my career to end? Yes. No question about that. Definitely. But again I can’t worry about things I can’t control. I’ll just try to put myself in the best situation I can. And if it’s not here it will be unfortunate but it won’t be here. I understand that it’s a business.”

Considering all the current hoopla about Lebron James and where he may land as a free agent it’s refreshing to my ears to hear a guy express that strong a sentiment about staying with a team that first provided him an opportunity.

Selfishly, I hope that if he goes out and has the type of season he has predicted, and which I think he has the potential to have, the Buccaneers will step up and do the right thing.

At the end of our discussion the conversation turned to legacy and what he wanted his legacy to be both on and off the field here in Tampa. Both answers give a glimpse into the strong character of the man as much as the player.

I referenced an interview up on Buccaneers.com where Stylez said he wanted to make the Pro Bowl and win Defensive Player Of The Year when asking him about his legacy on the field.

Instead of pointing to an award he said what he really wanted is to be remembered as a great teammate. Whether making a lot of plays or even if he gets passed up on the depth chart due to injury, or another guy just being better than him, he wants everyone to remember that he first and foremost he wanted to help all his teammates and he wanted to see his team do well regardless of his own personal achievements.

Off the field, White has his own foundation, Better Us Foundation, which has a Shining Stars Program designed to “keep youth off the streets and provide for a safe, healthy social life.”

Stylez is a partner with the Boys and Girls Club and sits on their Board of Directors. You can hear in his voice just how important to him this venture is to him and how committed he is to making a difference in the lives of these young men and women.

He wants to learn all that he can from the Boys and Girls Club, which has been a remarkable institution for decades, and apply those lessons to his own foundation and try to leave that same kind of mark in the world.

As impressed as I already was with Stylez White as a player before the interview, my respect only grew for him as the conversation went on. He says the kinds of things that would make any serious football fan want to pull for him and see him do well.

Of course, talk is cheap in the NFL, so it remains to be seen just how well he and his team will do this year. But while I may remain skeptical about a deep run into the playoffs, I have to admit talking to the guy made me at least consider it, which is more than I had previously done.

And that’s saying something.

9 Responses to “Bull Rush: A Sit Down With Stylez White (Part II)”

  1. d-money Says:

    Great interview Steve.

    Anyone who says the defense isn’t going to have any veteran leadership this year needs to read this.

  2. Kirk Says:

    This type of interview is what keeps me coming back. Good job Steve. I raise my cold bottle of Caybrew and salute Joe. Thanks.

  3. sgw94 Says:

    Thanks dmoney and Kirk. I appreciate it!

  4. Eric Says:

    This dude sounds like the kind of guy that richly deserves a good contract.


    Forgive me if you have already written about this, but I wondered as a former player whats your opinion on a rookie salary cap?

    From the outside looking in, I would think the vets might support it cause the money might flow more their direction rather than in the rookie contracts.

    How do some of these guys play together with these wildly fluctuating salaries? Human nature would dictate some bad feelings I would imagine.

  5. sgw94 Says:


    I kind of have mixed emotions about a rookie salary cap. On the one hand obviously the top 15 picks in the first round are totally out of whack in terms of compensation. When you have a guy thats never played a down becoming the highest paid player at his position as soon as they sign their contract, thats a problem. But on the other hand because contracts are not guaranteed and because teams can and do cut guys a few years into a long term contract but refuse to renegotiate at the same point if the guy has out played his contract ala Chris Johnson then you almost feel like guys have to get their money when they can get it.

    I think Im for a rookie salary cap if and only if a majority of it is guaranteed for say the first 3 years in the 3rd round and up. Usually 3 years is the time most GMs give players to show what they can do anyway. At that point both the player and team have the option to continue together or part ways much like the NBA

  6. RahDomDaBest Says:

    Too bad he’s 30.

    We need to re-sign our LT so we can draft a DE next year early before he gets too old. Would like us to go after a DE in Free Agency next year…. and a CB, and maybe a HB… young guys that is…. and maybe a MLB.

  7. Dave Says:

    He’s also a low-mileage 30. If he gets 10 sacks and doesn’t get fat, the Bucs have to pay him. …Great work, Mr. White. You and Joe do some great stuff sometimes.

  8. Jonny Says:

    Great interview Steve.

    I think Styles has the ability to have a 15 sack season if he starts and stays healthy throughout the season. He has always been a 7-8 sack guy anyways with the limited time he saw, hopefully it only gets better for him this year with some inside pressure.

  9. oar Says:

    Mr. White, Another fine piece of work/interview. Thanks!