The Polarizing Buccaneers

February 19th, 2020

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When it comes to identifying the most polarizing player in Buc history, Jameis Winston is in good company.

There’s no shortage of controversial candidates for a franchise that has endured more than its share of losing since the club’s inaugural 1976 season.

When Vinny Testaverde, Keyshawn Johnson and Aqib Talib can’t even make your final list, you know Tampa Bay fans have been through a handful of divisive figures.

Let’s begin with Winston, the first overall pick in the 2015 draft and the first overall pick on the polarization front. Before Winston was even selected, more than a few Buc fans were opposed to the decision based on his two years at Florida State, marred by several off-field incidents and a rape allegation for which Winston was never charged.

Not a finalist on the polarizing list, says Ira Kaurman.

Buc fans were divided about Winston’s play during his first three seasons before the NFL suspended him for the first three games of 2018 for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

Once Winston returned, he was benched in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick for three weeks before regaining his starting job as the Bucs finished 5-11 for the second consecutive year.

After a 4-game winning streak, Winston’s future in Tampa appeared secure until he melted down in the final two games of 2019, finishing with a league-high 30 interceptions while topping all quarterbacks with 5,109 yards.

A majority of Tampa Bay fans would rather keep Winston than let him explore free agency, but the fan base remains sharply split. Some 37 years ago, Doug Williams also found himself in limbo with Buc management.

Despite leading Tampa Bay to three playoff berths within a 5-year span, including an appearance in the NFC championship game, Williams and the Bucs couldn’t reach common ground on a new contract. Williams wanted $600,000, the Bucs offered $400,000 and the two sides remained apart, so Williams departed to the fledgling USFL.

Fans were split about the impasse. Some admired Williams as a team leader, others struggled to accept him as one of the NFL’s few black quarterbacks at the time.

In later years, Williams talked about the hate mail he received during his years in Tampa.

The first Bucs star QB, Doug Williams

“When you get mail with no return address, I learned very quickly that there was a 99 percent probability that you were being talked about not as a quarterback but as your race,” he said. “When you put race into it, it’s a personal vendetta.”

Williams says he once received a watermelon in the mail. While the Bucs embarked on a 14-year streak of losing football upon Williams’ departure, he led the 1987 Redskins to a championship, earning MVP honors with a historic Super Bowl performance.

“He was a very impactful player in this community,” said former Buc Vincent Jackson. “He’s one of the earliest black quarterbacks. He’s one of the guys that started opening up that gate for younger college players and younger kids to say, ‘Hey I can play the position as well.’ He did it the right way. What he did here and what he did in Washington was pretty amazing.”

Lurking behind Door No. 3, clad no doubt in a kimono, stands Gerald McCoy.

Lots of Pro Bowls, limited love.

The third overall pick in the 2010 draft was labeled brittle when bicep injuries undermined his first two pro seasons. Although McCoy would reel off six consecutive Pro Bowl berths, he never earned the full support of Buc Nation.

McCoy’s biggest sin? He was no Warren Sapp, the Hall of Fame defensive tackle who defined Buc swagger during the glory days.

Before games, Sapp made it a point to skip over opposing players while they stretched — just to let them know they were in for a long day. McCoy was ripped by some fans for helping quarterbacks to their feet.

By 2017, McCoy had his fill of Twitter barbs.

“There’s a bunch of people out there that say a lot of terrible things that I know they wouldn’t say to our face,” McCoy said. “These social media tough guys, I would love to meet them. Just being honest. I probably wouldn’t have said this last year, but I’m saying it now: I would love to meet you.”

Those are three lightning-rod Bucs who embody the definition of polarize: divide or cause to divide two sharply contrasting groups or sets of opinion or beliefs.

Winston tops the list, and that’s no proud accomplishment. Divide and conquer may be a winning strategy, but No. 3 is only halfway there.

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42 Responses to “The Polarizing Buccaneers”

  1. 813bucboi Says:

    regarding JW and GMC, polarizing doesnt equal WINS!!!!!!!!!

    doug came into a rotten situation just like JW and GMC BUT HE WON….

    GMC & JW are still looking for 10wins and a playoff game…..

    we made the mistake in signing GMC to a long term 100mil contract, dont repeat history…..

    GO BUCS!!!!!!

  2. BrianBucs Says:

    You are very wrong about the majority of the fan base wanting Winston to return. You have it totally backwards.
    The vast MAJORITY of Bucs fans want Winston to move on and the Bucs go in a different direction at the QB position.
    I’ve been a devoted Bucs fan since the beginning. I’ve seen every player, coach and GM come and go. And I can tell you now that Winston is the most Polarizing player the Bucs have every had. PERIOD.
    Because of Winston the fan base is split, as is the Bucs staff and media.
    Having Winston as their QB is also costing the Bucs a lot of money.
    The stadium is half empty on game days, lost corporate sponsors and advertisers, and so on.
    There is one remedy to this situation. Bucs need to move on from Winston.

  3. WyldKat Says:

    The Panthers season went to Hell with GMC. Sure it wasn’t his fault, but a rather coincidental chain of unfortunate events.

  4. Morgus the Magnificent Says:

    No one….NO ONE has polarized our fan base the way Winston has…….time to move on!!!

  5. sunshine Says:

    As a bucs fan and season tkt holder.. Winston needs to be gone !!..He is rated near the bottom by the nfl qb rating with good receivers but excuses keep coming ..5 years has shown he is not the answer.

  6. NPRSageBoy. Says:

    League sources say that there are really only two “QB Whispers” in the NFL.

    One is Andy Reid, who already has Mahomes and a Super Bowl win.

    The other is BA. Arians has already had a crack at JayMiss and by all appearances wants a look behind Door #2 before committing to another year with America’s Turnover Machine.

    Maybe Marc Trestman would welcome JayMiss to the XFL.

    Peace, out

  7. 813bucboi Says:

    most want him back just so he can prove,”he is who we thought he was”….

    IF he does return, BA will have a quick hook…..he tosses 10INTs by mid OCT like he did in 2019 and he’ll be a back up the rest of the season…..

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  8. Youngbucs Says:

    Hey joe that poll doesn’t count u know the 1 with the time limit lol

  9. stravenite Says:

    “You are very wrong about the majority of the fan base wanting Winston to return.

    Every (unscientific) poll Joe has seen or even run on this site has the majority of Bucs fans wanting Jameis to return as the quarterback.”

    Let me refresh your memory, the last 24 hr poll had 48% wanting him gone, 33% wanting him to return, and 19% undecided. Approx 3200 voted

    There was a 40 minute poll last week what approx 120 people voted and the majority wanted him back.

    At least get the facts right, not your preference.

  10. zzbuc Says:

    Joe with al due respect…..I couldn´t vote….Pretty sure the time was narrow Sir….

  11. stravenite Says:

    Top 10 QB’s available through the draft and free agency, JW does not feature, don’t give us another 12 months of futility as there won’t be the opportunities to replace him then that there are now.

  12. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    If Doug played now with the results he got there is no question the fan base would overwhelmingly want him back. Did not want jameis here to begin with but once he arrived he was the bucs QB and definitely wanted him to succeed. He was unfortunately given a GM that has no clue; that being said jamies has not helped the bucs and I really hopoe he goes on to do well but let jamies be some other cities roller coaster, think most fans have seen what are his limitations and the queasiness that has goes with it

  13. miken Says:

    Every (unscientific) poll Joe has seen or even run on this site has the majority of Bucs fans wanting Jameis to return as the quarterback.

    As usual, the haters holler the loudest so it may seem as if the fanbase is anti-Jameis………If Jameis went to Texas or UCLA, most everyone would say time to move on. FSU favorite , so I totaly understand the fanatics that love him and go to great lengths to explain every interception and every off the field issue. No

  14. zzbuc Says:

    I am not a JW hater neither a lover…Nothing personal with him….I find Keyshawn JOhnson way much more disgusting that Jameis, even though I think if we can get a better replacement, I think is time to move on in the QB position….Bridgewater is an upgrade…Maybe not sure Dalton and Tannehill are an upgrade…..Rivers Dalton Mariotta I dont wanna see them near close of Bucs facilities…..

  15. Mitch Says:

    If Jameis stays this is it. As someone who is nearsighted learning that he has been playing with uncorrected nearsightedness makes me lean towards giving him a year with corrected vision under the transition tag. After this year he is either a winner or he is gone. No 8-8 or 9-7. This fan base needs double digit win season and a play off game come 2020.

  16. ou812 Says:

    admin says nothing again:
    What should the Bucs do with QB Jameis Winston?

    Sign to long term contract >685 /16%
    Franchise tag> 1698/ 40%
    Let him walk>1549/36%
    Other >347/8 %

    POLARIZING in deed !!!!!=Empty Stadium / But more Clicks for you !!!!
    Pewter reports survey /Not yours !!! Every (unscientific) poll Joe has seen or even run on this site… LMAO / Winston all Winston Every day Winston!!! JOE gets all sticky in the panties!!!! Be careful ! Johnny Manziel might get jealous. Dolt!!!

  17. miken Says:

    take all the pools you want but 31 gms arent giving him a long term deal for a reason. Jason might, but the yest would give a 2 yr deal at a low #. I guess most in football know you can’t win games with turnovers… no matter how exciting

  18. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Maybe Jameis needs a coach/manager like Billy Martin , whose physical threats and confrontations with Reggie Jackson seemed to propel the ‘77 Yankees to the World Series.

  19. BucsFIRE Says:

    miken Says:
    “take all the pools you want”

    How does one take a pool?
    You would have to be a REALLY crafty thief.

  20. Alaskan Abdominal Snowman Says:

    “Don’t give us another 12 months of futility”

    Dude, only 4 human beings on earth have thrown for more yards in a season than JW. I know, I know, but the interceptions!!
    Either way, that is not futility. Quite the opposite.

  21. D-Rome Says:

    Every (unscientific) poll Joe has seen or even run on this site has the majority of Bucs fans wanting Jameis to return as the quarterback.


    There have been others that look like this. I’m talking about the 24 hour polls, not the half hour ones.

  22. Mike Johnson Says:

    That Doug Williams thing Ira..I was around..It broke my heart. Yes, Culverhouse F’d up royally with that one. He should have stayed in Tampa. And back then, you had fans who were a bit..tainted when it came to blacks playing QB. Especially here in Tampa Bay. Williams proved them wrong and went on to win a SB. Now we have Winston some 30 plus yrs later. And fans are divided. No race involved. Only Jameis’s helter-skelter abilities. I’m so torn, I don’t care what they do. Keep’em I’m good..Let’em go..I’m good there too. My gut says Jameis can and will improve. But how long will that take? Give’em one more prove yr. Make or Bust. Good luck Jameis. If he stays and fails, he can never say The Bucs were not patient with him.

  23. Bucsfanman Says:

    “Polarizing”! Understatement of the century!

  24. Dewey Selmon Says:

    I’ve given this franchise 44 years of my life. I’m willing to keep Winston 1 more year. I know he’s not a player but Gruden was as polarizing as any player.

  25. thisisouryear!! Says:

    Joe- I thought you did a 24 hr pole a week ago that came back something like

    Want Jameis back 40%
    Doesn’t want 42%
    Undecided 18%

    Isn’t that pretty close?

  26. doctor_berto Says:

    Im curious to see how Jameis plays in night games. Lasik can cause a lot of issues at night with lights.

  27. doctor_berto Says:

    thisisouryear, it was actually

    45% want him back
    34% dont
    21% not sure

  28. Tampa Bay Demon Says:

    thisisouryear, it was 45% to stay, 33% to go, and the rest undecided.

  29. Tampa Bay Demon Says:

    Sorry doctor_berto. You literally posted that right before me. Apparently I am the one that needs Lasik. LOL!!

  30. Loyaltotheend Section 312 Says:

    GMC’s biggest sin wasn’t that he wasn’t Sapp

    It was that he was a highly paid player that didn’t lead this team or defense anywhere!! The defense’s he captained were pathetic and he never made anyone around him better he just laughed and joked and seemed ok losing

  31. Buczilla Says:

    Good article Ira.

  32. D-Rome Says:


    On January 7th it was:

    45.07% don’t want him back
    38.50% want him back
    16.42% not sure

  33. ATrain Says:

    Here is the problem the Glazers have

    If they bring Jamies back and it is more of the same or worse the Fan Base will drop the team quick to include the “fans who want him back” as the fan base is very fickle

    If Jamies doesn’t come back and they pick a junk QB same result

    Tough spot

  34. Earl Bedford Says:

    Ira, I have been reading Joe Buc Fan for years. I must admit, “you suck!” Plain and simple! If I met you, I’d have no problem telling you to your face! [This is an outrageous accusation. No call for that here. — Joe] It’s about being “wrong or right.” Every time anyone on TV or press, ask you about Winston, it’s negative and rehashed things from college and his first couple years as a pro. This man knows he messed up, but every chance you get, you want to bang it in the listeners head that he’s garbage as a quarterback and human being. Like you’re perfect! I could be wrong, but I don’t believe I read an article of yours or interview you’ve done about how he is turning his life around. How he’s donated countless hours of his time in the community and giving back to kids or how he has settled down with his soon to be wife and son. You want to make everyday a living hell for this man for pass transgressions. You sir, are a joke of a writer and reporter!

  35. LuxuryLuggageDelivery4Less Says:

    WHO CARES ABOUT POLARIZING THE FAN BASE. No fanbase in the league is united! As long as they don’t polarize the locker room they’re all right as long as they keep “Balling OUt” Go Jaboo!

  36. Formerly Tampa 2 Says:

    Take a poll of this thread Ira. I think you will find that You are wrong! By the way, Doug Williams was one of my favorite players. Nothing against Winston, but 5 years of losing is enough.

  37. mark2001 Says:

    So funny… Williams was great…arguably the best QB we ever had. Winston couldn’t carry his jock, in terms of play or character.

    No logic for Williams leaving…but that was Hugh.

    Many reasons to allow Jameis to walk.

  38. Kansas95Buc Says:

    How many times we gonna bring up these bs rape allegations? Funny how Rothlisburger had some rape cases but nobody brings it up constantly. Some days Ira sound like a male feminist smh

  39. Alvin Scissors Harper Says:

    Joe, the only ones who can vote and vote and vote in those half hour polls are the unemployed – like Ndog and Tmax.

  40. Pugs&Bucs Says:

    You know who makes the list but won’t make the list. Kellen Winslow Jr.

    The guy is obviously a sexual deviant. He got caught getting a little too excited about Target’s low prices and he’s doing time for a serious crime.

    But the guy had a bad knee his whole time he was in TB and he Never Missed A Single Game. Three years.

  41. Joseph Mamma Says:

    Every (unscientific) poll Joe has seen or even run on this site has the majority of Bucs fans wanting Jameis to return as the quarterback.

    As usual, the haters holler the loudest so it may seem as if the fanbase is anti-Jameis.


    I don’t run the website, nor have I seen or voted in every poll, but I know this statement is BS.

    Also, the opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference. So the people you’re calling haters are the ones that are following this team and website probably the most.

    If it wasn’t for the so called ‘haters’ this dung pile of a franchise would have no fanbase.

  42. Stanglassman Says:

    TRex- Did you read the part “ A majority of Tampa Bay fans would rather keep Winston than let him explore free agency,”

    Maybe you skip Ira’s articles cause they’re too long for you to read. Not enough pictures.