Winning With A “Psycho-Mentality”

August 23rd, 2017

Ira Kaufman is the most beloved, revered and esteemed Buccaneers columnist in town. He has hung his hat at world headquarters since July 2016. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Buc fans pining for the next Simeon Rice can stop chasing the impossible dream.

There’s only one Simeon, and for awhile, one was more than enough. The second-best defensive end in franchise history behind Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon should get a little Canton love next month when voters pick the 25 semi-finalists for the Class of 2018.

Rice deserves to make the cut to 25 candidates for the first time — and that would be an important initial step. But while he’s waiting for his judgment day, Rice is busy working on his second career as a filmmaker.

His next project is a documentary. You don’t need three guesses to figure out the subject.

Yes, Simeon.

Before the big man hits the big screen, he intends to make his mark on the practice field. Rice worked with some of Tampa Bay’s young defensive linemen at training camp, paying special attention to Noah Spence.

Rice still looks chiseled and he would be thrilled to see Spence become the club’s first double-digit sacker since No. 97 was angling past left tackles and executing his patented sack-and-strip from the blind side.

Simeon Rice

When Rice signed with the Bucs as a free agent in 2001, he had already established himself as a force in Arizona. He posted 12.5 sacks as a rookie in 1996, but played in relative obscurity before joining Warren Sapp up front and making an elite defense a historic defense.

Besides showing Spence pass-rushing techniques, Rice’s message was simple: dominate.

“I came in the league with a high sense of confidence,” he said. “You know, Rookie of the Year, a little brash sometimes, rubbed people the wrong way sometimes, but it’s all because I really believed in what I was putting on the field. Right out of the gate I believed in what I was capable of doing, becoming what I was capable of being and I truly wanted to be the best. I had a ‘psycho-mentality’ about being different.”

That self-confidence never wavered and when the spotlight came, Rice sizzled. He registered seven sacks in seven career playoff games and he could easily have won MVP honors in the Super Bowl rout against the Raiders.

Rice was blessed with rare physical skills, but he worked hard to be great. He would often be seen running laps around the practice field after all the other Bucs had called it quits. He kept his body in good shape, although he’ll be the first to admit he enjoys the pleasures of the flesh.

There were times when this free spirit faced costly repercussions.

Wine Tasting

In 2004, Rice was sent home from the Pro Bowl in Honolulu for disciplinary reasons. A year later, Rice missed a team meeting in San Francisco the night before a game against the 49ers.

Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen had seen enough, so they sent Rice back home on a commercial flight before dropping a 15-10 decision. The Bucs had been 5-1 entering the game, powered by Rice’s five sacks and a fast start by rookie back Cadillac Williams.

A few days later, I approached Rice’s locker, expecting to see an apologetic Buccaneer. Yeah, right.

Instead, Rice smiled broadly and talked about the exquisite chablis he downed on the flight back to Tampa.

How do you think that went over with Allen and Gruden?

Still, you couldn’t stay mad at Rice for long because he backed up all that bravado on fall Sundays.

“There’s no Hall of Fame without me in it,” Rice says. “There’s just not. I dominated when I played. There was nobody better at my position. Nobody.”

I wouldn’t go that far, but then again I never had to face the menacing sight of Simeon Rice bearing down on me on third-and-10.

11 Responses to “Winning With A “Psycho-Mentality””

  1. CautiousOptimism Says:

    More deserving than Strahan and lots of others already in. Sadly he is being judged with Sapp, Brooks, Lynch and Barber all from the same great defense and it’s turning voters off. Not fair but true.

  2. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Some old school folks like me were simply raised differently. My folks always taught me that if you have to toot your own horn it doesn’t count. It is only meaningful when others observe and boast about you.

    Certainly Sim has admirers but he actually pushed the bar higher by his antics.
    Not saying that’s fair but it is what it is. TO has the same problem.

  3. CautiousOptimism Says:

    stpetebucsfan- if he was considered a good guy like Brooks without the “antics” he would then be qualified for hof?
    Seems that it is his reputation outside of his play that is being judged by you and maybe some “old school folks” that vote in the hall. It’s BS

  4. pick6 Says:

    what a crime to see dexter jackson win that superbowl mvp due to an idiotic fan voting process that concluded before the game did. dwight smith was a pretty obvious superior choice, but simeon rice was also quite deserving given the pressure he put Gannon under all night, and “superbowl mvp” would boost his HoF credentials tremendously.

  5. Rod Munch Says:

    pick6 – there wasn’t fan voting then, it was just the media voting – and most ballots were turned in early since the Bucs were clearly going to win the game. I agree it was a terrible process – but it wasn’t quite fan voting terrible.

  6. Rod Munch Says:

    You know who else deserves to at least have their name brought up? Warrick Dunn. He’s 22nd all-time in rushing but 18th all-time in yards from scrimmage putting him ahead of players like Bettis and Jim Brown. Talk about someone who gets no respect – one of the greatest all-time weapons, the top weapon of the 90s and 2000s, and no one even knows it.

  7. stpetebucsfan Says:


    I sort of thought I addressed that with my last sentence.

    Not saying that’s fair but it is what it is. TO has the same problem.

  8. Pickgrin Says:

    Rice was the best and most consistent player at his position for a 10 year stretch and the #s back that up.

    If that doesn’t say HOF player I don’t know what does.

    Warren Sapp – a 1st ballot HOFer was dominant as F___ – but only for a 7 year stretch (96>02) and the #s back that up as well. Sapp did have one 10 sack season with Oakland but he also had a combined 9 1/2 sacks in his other 3 seasons there.

    Simeon Rice was consistently dominant for a longer period of time than Sapp and for 2 different teams. Just sayin…

  9. Rod Munch Says:

    Pickgrin – LOL! This is why people don’t take Rice seriously… when you have Rice defenders saying he was better than Sapp, that’s insanely ridiculous. Rice was a great player and deserves to at least be on the ballot – but he’s not Warren Sapp. Keep your hype in check since when you say things like that people just tune you out.

    Also Sapp had 20 sacks in 4 seasons in Oakland – PLAYING OUT OF POSITION. He was playing a DE in a 3-4. It was incredibly dumb of Oakland to play him there and for him to get 10 sacks in a season playing out of position for a loser team that no one cared about – it shows how incredible Sapp was.

  10. Pickgrin Says:

    I never said Rice was “better than Sapp” Rod Munch.

    Since your reading comprehension is a problem – what I said was – “Simeon Rice was consistently dominant for a longer period of time than Sapp”

    Was using that to make the point that Simeon belongs in the HOF conversation and he’s getting shafted – that’s all

    Sapp was among the top 3-5 DTs that have ever played in the NFL – but he was only that devastatingly dominant player for a 7 year period.

    Rice was dominant for a longer period of time – fact!

    The big difference is that Rice was probably a top 20 all time DE but Sapp was one of the very best DTs ever (for 7 years)

  11. Brandon Says:

    Rice’s biggest problems is that early on in his career he had the reputation as a pass rusher only that didn’t play the run. This might have been true in Arizona, but with the Bucs (where some idiotic fans continued repeating what they heard, said the same thing) he was very tough against the run.

    Ronde Barber has the same issue… people started saying he was a ” great system CB”…. when in all actuality he was a GREAT CB that played in a system. The Bengals tried to break the bank one offseason on Barber but he elected to come back to Tampa for less money. Not saying that proves anything other than that he had worth outside of Tampa’s system.

    As far as system players, great is great. Montana was the ultimate SYSTEM QB… did that keep him out of the HOF? How about Barry Sanders? A system RB, you say? Yeah, Barry ran his very best out of a spread out formation (run and shoot) than behind a FB. He probably wouldn’t have had nearly the production he had if he had been stuck in traditional NFL offenses lined up three yards behind a FB and being expected to run leads and traps all day instead of the draws and sweeps he excelled at. Great is great. Rice proved with the Bucs that he could play the run, he should be in the HOF.