A Forever Buc Keeps On Driving

April 2nd, 2018


You never know who you’re going to run into at the NFL owners meetings.

The league’s movers and shakers gathered at a posh Orlando resort last week for a little sun, fun and golf. In between, they managed to get some business done.

When my wife and I arrived for the annual pool party, a big man greeted me in the lobby. He gave me a bear hug that I’m still recovering from, but it’s always good to see Donald Penn.

The former left tackle of the Buccaneers was in town to participate in a youth football clinic. He still follows JoeBucsFan.com religiously and Penn is on top of Buc news, even though he is now playing in the other Bay area.

Penn is listed at 315 pounds, but that’s fake news. He’s 330 if he’s a pound, but that playing weight seems to suit a three-time Pro Bowl player who was involved in one of the biggest gaffes in recent Buc history.

After seven accomplished seasons in Tampa protecting the blind side of an array of quarterbacks, Penn was released in 2014. The Bucs quickly jumped on Anthony Collins in free agency as Penn’s replacement.

“Watching all the tackles, he’s the one that jumped out the most to me,” Jason Licht said, explaining why the Bucs pounced on Collins.

To say Collins was a free-agent bust is a little like saying Harvey Weinstein is a bit of a dork.

Meanwhile, the Raiders scooped Penn up five days after he was jettisoned by Licht and new head coach Lovie Smith. Until he missed the final two weeks of last season with a foot injury, Penn had reeled off a dazzling streak of playing in 170 consecutive games.

Penn said some nice things about Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith, but added that Smith still needs to work on his technique after three seasons.

When I mentioned Jameis Winston, Penn arched one eyebrow and suggested Tampa Bay’s franchise quarterback still has much to prove at the pro level.

Throwback Signings

Oakland’s slide from 12-4 to 6-10 still rankles Penn, but he’s looking forward to working with Jon Gruden the second time around.

“I love Coach Gruden,” Penn said. “I started my career off with him. I know the mentality he has. I know the passion he has for football, and I told him when I talked to him, ‘You’re coming into a room of hungry dogs’ because we didn’t like the way we ended last season.”

Penn, who turns 35 in April, made it the hard way. He was undrafted out of Utah State but eventually landed in Tampa, where Gruden installed him as a starter a month into the 2007 season — the last time the Bucs made the playoffs.

Buc fans still remember how Penn and his teammates up front opened huge running lanes for Earnest Graham against the Giants in the opening quarter of a postseason matchup. Then Gruden veered away from the ground attack and the Giants won 24-14, the first step in their improbable championship run.

Donald Penn counsels Derek Carr

Now Penn is eager to resume acquaintances with Doug Martin, who ran for 1,454 yards as a rookie in 2012, with Penn making all 16 starts for Greg Schiano.

“Martin is smart,” Penn said. “He’s always going to be in the right spot. He’s small and tough and strong, so he gets to hide behind us, and then he just pops out. He did that so many times in Tampa. He does a good job of finding those little creases in the hole and breaking through them. That’s another guy that has a chip on his shoulder, so I can’t wait to get him out there.”

Yes, Penn still has his passion for the game after 11 years in the trenches. He’s upset that his ironman streak ended last December, but he’s ready to start another one with Chucky screaming in his ear.

“We’re all coming in with a chip on our shoulders,” Penn said, “and I think our coach has the biggest chip of ’em all.”

Ira Kaufman is the most revered sports personality and writer in town. He has hung his hat at JoeBucsFan.com 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. You can also hear Ira on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio Wednesdays during football season, and see him now on Mondays at 10:30 p.m. on Spectrum Sports 360 (aka BayNews 9). Ira also is part of the FOX-13 Tailgate Sunday and enjoys beet salads, Riesling, Chiefs victories and needling Joe.

41 Responses to “A Forever Buc Keeps On Driving”

  1. Broy34 Says:


  2. Buc believer Says:

    Yeah that’s nice….. (dripping with sarcasm) 🙄

  3. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Earnest Graham…Mister September.

    I have a signed rookie card of him sealed in a plastic case…probably will never be worth anything unless he goes all OF Simpson on someone.

    He wasn’t nearly good enough for us. Good guy though.

  4. Crazed Bucs Fan Says:

    I just wanna say let’s draft Penny. Baby Ladainian Tomlinson. Could get us 150 yards rushing every single game. Do it! Do it now!

  5. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Peyton Barber is today’s Earnest Graham. Everyone screamed for Graham to get his shot too.

  6. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Penny will fail in the NFL. 😛

  7. Bucsfanman Says:

    Man, we let so much talent walk out the door that year. Isn’t that the same year we traded Zuttah for a bag of chips and a lemonade?! And, if memory serves, there were flocks of “fans” willing to trade everything for draft picks that year, well every year now that I think about it.
    2 offensive line starters that only now would we be looking for their replacements.

  8. Destinjohnny Says:

    Most coaches aren’t scouts. Case in point
    Personal decisions like this have kept us awful

  9. Bucsfanman Says:

    Might want to pump the brakes on comparing Penny to a HOF’er. I’d hazard Penny’s stats and film are nothing like LT’s.
    Could be a nice pick-up in later rounds.

  10. Crazed Bucs Fan Says:

    Penny has the speed and vision to succeed. You think they just let him score touchdowns in college. His jump cuts and acceleration are his weapons. I should know. My uncle’s cousin father’s next door neighbor is Mel Kiper Jr.

  11. BucFanFromOhio Says:

    Penny looks like a joke, I’ll be pretty bummed if we draft him.

  12. Bucsfanman Says:

    Well, that must make me a kicking expert then! My wife’s best friend’s husband’s sister is married to Steve Christie! 🙂

  13. Crazed Bucs Fan Says:

    We compare everyone to Michael Jordan, and every QB to Brett Favre.

  14. Crazed Bucs Fan Says:

    That’s funny my wife’s best friend’s husband’ sister is married to Steve Christie. See you at that the barbecue!!!

  15. Crazed Bucs Fan Says:

    You probably liked Mariota too. Didn’t you, Buc fan from Ohio?

  16. BucFanFromOhio Says:

    @Crazed Bucs Fan

    How does my not liking Penny correlate to wanting Mariota over Winston? That year everyone was comparing the top 2 prospects JW/MM as to which is the best QB in the class. By your idiotic logic you are stating Penny is comparable to Barkley. Put the pipe down.

  17. StPeteBucsFan Says:


    I’m not sure about your beef with Graham. He was a great Buc who did what was asked of him.

    He was on the practice squad for his first couple of years and then the Bucs made him a special teams star for a few years. During those years Graham would always lead all Buc rushers in the pre-season..of course Chucky never gave him a shot in the regular season and with his genius observation snarkily called Graham “Mr August”. Play him moron and maybe he has more to show.

    That’s exactly what happened when Cadillac Williams blew his knee out and Chucky HAD to play Graham. How did that work out?

    Graham took advantage of his opportunity, rushing for 898 yards and ten touchdowns in the thirteen games he played. In that span, he rushed for over 100 yards in a game three times and scored a touchdown in six consecutive contests. Graham became only the second running back in Buccaneers history to register back-to-back 100-yard rushing games.

    He only played ten games the following year and still recorded 563 yards.

    He was not a GREAT RB….but he was a very good Buc…he did EVERYTHING asked of him…special teams…blocking for Caddy and others…and he was a GOOD RB. His career average is 4.3 yards per carry.

    I HOPE Payton Barber is the next Ernest Graham. Not flashy…but if he goes 4.3 yards per carry this year our running game will be fine which will assure that our passing game is fine.

  18. Crazed Bucs Fan Says:

    No if you finished school you would understand. You say that Penny is a bust. Just as I’m willing to bet you thought Mariota was better than Winston. You were wrong then and you’re wrong now. Matter of fact I bet you’re always wrong. Now go drop my fries I’m getting hungry.

  19. Pryda ...sec147 Says:

    I don’t care -_-

  20. BucFanFromOhio Says:

    @Crazed Bucs Fan

    LMAO nice try guessing education, the only higher degree I could obtain is a doctorate. Also, my level of education has zero to do with the NFL draft or player evaluation so that doesn’t really apply here. In real school they teach you STEM courses, not football player evaluation. You are the one who seems to think “bust” is spelled “b-u-m” because that is the only thing I called Penny. Again, put the pipe down and try again I guess.

  21. BucFanFromOhio Says:

    Scrath that, I said he looks like a joke and I would be bummed. Again though, I never said he was a bust.

  22. Crazed Bucs Fan Says:

    Yeah and I’m Superman. I bet your shoes are on the wrong feet. You’re the one who stated my comment was idiotic. Now you say, oh I’m not a talent evaluator. Neither one of us are. You crack monster.

  23. Bucsfanman Says:

    @Crazed- Dude, we might be related! LOL!
    I like Penny, I’m just not “Crazy” (see what I did?!) about him. I tend to side with LUV in that, if we shore up the line with a Quinton Nelson, we won’t “need” a Barkley, Penny, or whoever. We could get away with a “serviceable” back until next year, then go big for RB.

  24. BucFanFromOhio Says:

    Crazed Bucs Fan Says:
    April 2nd, 2018 at 10:50 am
    You’re the one who stated my comment was idiotic.

    Learn to read kid. I said you logic of comparing Penny to the top RB in the class Barkley was idiotic. Nobody cares what RB you like, but comparing Penny to Barkley is moronic. For a 3rd time now…. PUT THE PIPE DOWN.

  25. donuts Says:

    Silly season in full effect in comments area..some things never change on JBF

  26. BucFanFromOhio Says:

    Apparently the fact that I don’t like Penny is akin to me telling CrazedBuc to stop kissing his cousin. It’s like his world is ending.

  27. ben Says:

    Mariota is a better qb then Winston per nfl ratings every year. You can say it doesn’t matter and make your excuses as Winston for better or worse is on the bucs.

  28. Pickgrin Says:

    Way to stay on topic posters…

    The problem with Penn after the 2013 season was that he had just put his worst season as a pro on tape and was due $8.5M the following year (a fairly significant amount 5 years ago). Oakland signed him to a 1 year deal for less than half that amount – so sure, they “scooped him up” – at a more than reasonable salary and risk. Penn getting cut obviously lit a fire under his ass and spurred him to better play in Oakland so it was probably the best thing that could have happened to him professionally in retrospect.

    Point is – $ was the problem the Bucs had with Penn – or should I say perceived value. A take that is somewhat substantiated by the fact that Penn has not earned $8.5M in any year since we cut him over that same amount – and salaries for LTs have risen substantially in that time.

    The Anthony Collins fiasco was just bad evaluating – plain and simple. Missing so badly on that pick up was independent of the decision that Penn coming off his worst year in 2013 was not worth the high salary he was due. People forget how BAD that entire 2013 OL was. I didn’t blame the regime one bit for “blowing it up” at the time. Licht was working with all of Dom’s talent evaluators that 1st year – so its no wonder the results of their attempted OL rebuild were unsuccessful aside from Licht’s astute decision to trade a 4th rd pick for Mankins.

  29. Mike Johnson Says:

    Always like Donald Penn. He’s a little like Charles Barkley in that..he’s not phony. He will not mince words. He just says whats in his heart. Never thought he should have left the Bucs. But again..its a..BucLife baby!!

  30. Crazed Bucs Fan Says:

    Wow. You don’t have a brain do you, Ohio? Head got more room than Raymond James Stadium. You just can’t keep up can you, Forrest! You don’t know how to interpret shi+. It’s like I’m talking to a stove. I know I know, put the pipe down. Pull the pipe out your A$$.

  31. Crazed Bucs Fan Says:

    What’s up Ohio? I guess the drive thru is busy and you ain’t got time to talk. Lol. I’m done. The fued is over. TKO.
    Penny in pewter!!! Go Bucs!!!

  32. BucFanFromOhio Says:


    Always thought it was the wrong move getting rid of Penn, but never considered the money/value aspect of it back then. 2013 was rough in general (as you stated) so I didn’t really blame Licht for letting him go when he was set to earn that much $$$. It just sucks seeing all the Bucs that leave an do great elsewhere.

  33. BucFanFromOhio Says:

    Also, ty for the laughs CrazedBuc. My office is rolling reading the garbage you type and betting on which parent’s basement you are mashing your keyboard in. You take 3 hours to reply to my last comment, but when I take half an hour to respond it means I am at a drive thru? Wow, some insult. Thanks for “ending the fued” when I decided to just ignore you, w/e you have to tell yourself though.

  34. Crazed Bucs Fan Says:

    Is office code word for McDonald’s toilet? I’m not fueding just asking a question.

  35. BucFanFromOhio Says:


  36. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Seem to remember The Bucs also being concerned about Penn’s weight at the time. Note that Ira believes he’s playing at around 330 now. Collins was also
    one of the players that Licht took responsibility for in the retooled roster.

  37. Crazed Bucs Fan Says:

    Typo. Just like when you said you have a degree.

  38. BucFanFromOhio Says:

    LMAO! Wow, that one was almost as good as “you must be at a drive thru.” Such intelligent insults…

  39. BucFanFromOhio Says:

    You can have the last word (because apparently this is all you live for). I really will “end the feud” you seem to childish to leave be.

  40. Crazed Bucs Fan Says:

    Make sure you wash your hands when you come out of your office.

  41. Bradentonbuc Says:

    Man I what a mistake it was to let Penn go