“When Your Head Man Is Saying, ‘Well, It’s Going To Happen.'”

July 12th, 2020

Major considerations ahead for Bucco Bruce Arians, explains one of his former players.

Max Starks played left tackle under Bucco Bruce Arians for many years in Pittsburgh.

The two-time Super Bowl winner knows the position, knows the Bucs’ head coach, and has strong opinions on Donovan Smith considering sitting out the 2020 season.

Starks is a regular on sports radio in Arizona and is a fill-in host on SiriusXM NFL Radio, where the former Gators star talked about Smith last week.

What would the Bucs locker room think if Smith skipped the season because of virus fears or didn’t report to training camp until, say, on August 28, a month or so after his child is born?

“As a teammate, I don’t think I could really judge Donovan in a negative light because he’s made a very personal decision,” Starks said. “When we think about how players operate in silos when it comes to personal matters; you don’t really speak on those things.

“For a teammate, even though there is this promise, at the end of the day you have a family and the family is the first thing. I think his teammates will probably look at this and make the judgment [looking at] themselves. ‘Where am I at? What would I do to my family by playing?’ It starts to make people consider those options.”

It’s Starks’ opinion that Smith, after a year with Arians, doesn’t need training camp to be successful in 2020, as long as he stays in shape.

However, Starks said Smith’s public consideration of skipping the 2020 season means the Bucs should be looking at 38-year-old, nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters in free agency, as well as one of Starks’ former teammates, left tackle Kelvin Beachum. The 31-year-old Beachum manned left tackle for the Jets the past three seasons. Starks didn’t offer details, but he said Beachum and Arians know each other.

Did Arians get in Smith’s head last week, when he said he expects the entire Bucs roster to catch “The Sickness?”

Starks thinks so.

“That definitely put it probably more so at the front of [Smith’s] mind, when your head man is saying, ‘Well, it’s going to happen.‘ And you already know Bruce Arians has his pre-existing [health] issues, right? He’s had his issues and he’s like, ‘Well, we’re all going to get it. So might as well just get used to it,'” Starks said.

“And, you know, as a player, if I’m seeing my head coach say that out in the media, I’m like, ‘Whoa, wait a second. I can’t get this, not at this point, or else I’m going to have to get an apartment nearby and do a lot of FaceTime calls with my family if I’m going to play, because I can’t come into my own household; I can’t sleep in my own bed because of that risk.”

Lots to think about for the power players at One Buc Palace. As of now, there is no official opt-out-of-the-season clause for players to exercise, but that likely is coming this week, presumably with a firm and quick deadline.

54 Responses to ““When Your Head Man Is Saying, ‘Well, It’s Going To Happen.'””

  1. richbucsfan Says:

    While it may be true that Smith has fears of contracting the virus, I think it’s much deeper than that. IMHO, I believe he is more afraid of failure in playing his position. He no longer has the QB that can escape a crazed DE or LB when he fails on a block. He apparently is afraid he’ll miss the block that will allow Brady to get blown up.

  2. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The timing on a decision of a player is key. If the player sits out the team gets a salary cap credit….but if the decision may be too late to find a suitable replacement.

  3. Roy T. Buford Says:

    Good read, Joe. Thanks…

    Starks is really only speaking the obvious. It’s “family first” with Smith and that’s how most people probably think, should think. If he needs the money, then “family first” means he’s got to play and take the risk while mitigating the risk as best he can. Some guys, especially those making league minimum (still about half a mil), likely DO need the money, and/or “family first” to them means being next man up and hopefully create an opportunity to play well enough to have longer term employment…because of “family first.”

    So I’m back to my original point made earlier in the week; if Donovan Smith and others are concerned about playing to the point that NOT playing is a factor more imporant than money for “family first,” then don’t play. No one should fault him for that. But don’t expect to get paid.

    It’s an adult decision, a personal one, so it should be thought through. Different decisions are best for different guys. And the NFL should be very clear once you opt out, you don’t opt back in until some pre-set time in the future. May even be set up where a team can “recall” and “activate” x number of “opt out” players after a certain point.

    Another risk is someone steps up, plays better, and your value declines. That’s life, that’s business.

  4. Roy T. Buford Says:

    @richbucsfan…a lot of NFL players have an “invincible” attitude which is one characteristic that makes so many players seem fearless and it ups their game. I am betting Smith knows he’s not the best LT in the game, but I’d be surprised at his fairly young age and salary if he is afraid of his ability or failure. Either way, he knows he is probably one of the top 32 best LTs in the world.

    I think Smith’s line of thinking is on target. I admire him on that part. Where I think his judement goes mabye goes south would be thinking he should get paid MORE for playing than his (I believe) $11M. He should realize he deserves full pay for playing, and nothing if he doesn’t. Still his call, not to be second guessed by someone not in his position.

  5. Jason Says:

    I’ve had to quit a job over safety concerns myself, so If Donovan makes the choice to sit out over concern for his family, then I support it..

  6. Allbuccedup Says:

    Mlb players opting out and football there is a lot more contact on every play. I believe the closer you get to September a lot of NFL players will be opting out.

  7. Jason Says:

    Where’s my morning cup of Joe?
    C’mon guys, tighten up. Lol.

  8. Jaymiss Pick6 Again Says:

    @richbucsfan..I’m certain Mr. Smith is not suddenly suffering with a bout of “lost confidence” in his abilities. Especially since he will now be protecting a much better QB that knows how to get the ball out of his hand quickly. I don’t think we will see TB12 with a look of confusion, bewilderment and just plain shock after getting sacked while holding the ball for seven seconds.

    As for Mr. Starks…well said sir.

  9. Georger Says:

    It’s 14.5 million. Peters will be cheaper and provide cap relief without a decline in play.

  10. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I would predict that D. Smith will play like most of the rest of high-paid NFL players……there would be no real way to recoup the salary. And, sometimes a team may find out they do very well without you.

  11. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Cup of Joe is only on weekdays Jason.

  12. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    So stupid……………THIS IS ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE DS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    He’ll have to buy a disinfected boat

    Use all disinfected equipment to get there

    Live on a deserted island somewhere in the world

    Then make sure everything that comes to his island is RONA free!!!!!

    …………………..no one can stop the spread

  13. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    ………….and DS mentality is not crazy…………but his reasoning is

    DS…………..are you not smart enough to understand how the world is and how the world is gonna be for awhile??????????????????????

    Hell………….gimme half of yo salary and throw on helmet, mop the floor, take out the trash….wash your food trays from team cafeteria…..IDGAF!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Ron says Says:

    I think each person has a right to make their own decision especially when considering their families, but there are many who are working and supporting these ones who are choosing to stay home, some at fast food or restaurants, hospitals and stores so the quality of life is maintained. The virus is here and as the coach said it will effect all of us at some point unless there is a vaccine or a demise of the virus but the real question is what is the quality of our lives as you have others out there maintaining it for those who choose to let others sacrifice what they are unwilling to endure themselves. Now we have a football season possibly coming, which represents to most a feeling of normalcy. So if a person decides they may not want to play this season then they have not really prepared themselves for this season cause they are not committed and should let the team move on from them or retire, because there are others who accept this challenge and commitment as we see daily in those who are continuing to work for the benefit of others. Football is a game of numbers and value and with a cap set it is important to get the value and commitment at every position. The money for Donovan needs to be used to find a replacement at that position for those who are committed to the team and are focused on the upcoming season. As in life we do not know what tomorrow will bring, so we prepare for the task at hand and pray.

  15. Leighroy Says:

    Credit to richbucsfan for one of the stupidest posts I’ve seen in a while

  16. Rayjay1122 Says:

    Life and family > football, that being said, if the NFL allows opting out, then the NFL needs to allow replacement contracts to players willing to play as they replace the opting out individuals.

    I think there are a ton of guys that would take Smith’s position at LT and perform much better than highly over rated member of the Dotson Smith Turnstyle Club.

  17. Johnbucsfan Says:

    I’m a grocery store manager and make $70000yr. I was basically told work or loose your job because I’m “necessary”. Put on your big girl panties and get to work!

  18. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I cannot blame Smith if he wants to protect his family in this case, but he should forfeit the money for the time missed.

    I still think rosters should be increased by ten players this year, including game day rosters. Since you can’t be sure when a players will be pulled, teams have to be prepared.

    What if you fly to another state, and your entire oline has a temperature on game day? They’ll pull them, and the team has to have personnel to replace them. So teams should get a one year increase to rosters and a one year bonus to the cap.

  19. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Tampabaybucfan Says
    “And, sometimes a team may find out they do very well without you.”

    Great point! Isn’t this the last year Smith has a guarantee?

  20. bucsfaninoregon Says:

    Bonzai:::”What if you fly to another state, and your entire oline has a temperature on game day? They’ll pull them, and the team has to have personnel to replace them.”
    You see the problem. Now what if it’s your QB? Play on? Is that the NFL season you want to see? You might as well play Madden game instead.

  21. Issac haggins Says:

    As I said yesterday , your in or your out every day that Donavan doesn’t make his intent clear is just another selfish look at me I’m a victim Day that’s all about Donavan . It’s a free world do what you want , just cut the grandstanding and don’t leave the organization ( that over payed you by 6 mil) and your teammates hanging !!! On top of let’s be real , trying to grab attention and sour the locker room ,,,, I’m not a lab experiment !!! What a bunch of I’m the victim garbage , your a grown ass Man that made 16 mil last year that can play or not play , very very simple ,,,,,but Donavan wants to whine like a lil btch. Donavan news flash , look at the NBA training camp if you don’t like it don’t play ……. Very Simple Dude ,,, Now respect your team and teammates and declair which one , I’m playing , I’m not playing !! Remember Donavan if you don’t play it’s 50 percent at best for you that you ever play again and starting that will prob never happen but it’s pretty clear that you may not care .

  22. PSL Bob Says:

    What I said two months ago. The only way to make this safe for players, staff, and families is to quarantine everyone associated with the team (players, coaches, staff, admin, grounds keepers, etc.) throughout the entire season and test often. Just like in the military, you interact with family and friends via phone, facebook, and skype fpr the five (hopefully six)-month season. Team planes are decontaminated prior to each flight for away games. In the rare event someone did contract the disease, that person is quarantined from the others until testing negative. Expand both the 53-man roster and practice squads so you have sufficient replacement players available. No fans! However, eliminate TV blackouts for home games, so everyone can watch every game on TV.

    Do I think this is going to happen. No! But it could work.

  23. Bucnuts Says:

    I’ll be suprised if we have a season at all. It really pains me to say that as I live for football season. In spite of what some of the infectious disease specialist(NOT) on this site say, this virus is the real deal and until we have a vaccine or some effective therapy, people are rightfully going to be cautious. Sad thing is an effective early response could have avoided ALL of this.

  24. WillieG Says:

    If I’m a player, with a newborn at home, I rent an apartment and say goodbye to the wife and kid(s) for however long the season is. I go make my millions knowing that the money is what will secure my family’s future for MULTIPLE generations to come.

    Think about it. In WWII men went to war and didn’t come home for YEARS. They only had slow mail to use to stay in touch with loved ones. They did it for a couple of hundred dollars each month. They sacrificed to secure freedom for their families and their country.

    Surely athletes making millions can make sacrifices so they can continue earning millions? It benefits them the most, after all. I know I damn sure would. It’s only 6 months! And there are a kajillion ways to communicate these days and there are ways to ensure safe visits with the family.

  25. Buccfan37 Says:

    This reminds of the recent passing of a 30 year old man who believed the virus is a hoax. He attended a covid 19 party and one person there was positive.

  26. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Me personally, I’m putting WWII and saving the world from tyranny a lot higher on my list of important events than the game of football. If he opts out, he opts out. Nothing we can do about it.

  27. bojim Says:

    Players should think about theirs families first but Smith turned me off by talking about money. Didn’t you make around 12 mil last year? Did you save any?

  28. DoooshLaRue Says:


    Absolutely agree with you, and heck, it closer to 5 months!

  29. Jeffbuc Says:

    I hate that these rich athletes talk about no putting there health in jeopardy over 14.5 million dollars. They are offending a lot of nurses,cna, janitors,cafeteria workers, and all the other $8-$20 hr jobs. That are deemed essential and they have to go to work everyday at a place where there WILL be positive patients with the sickness. No one making 30k a year barely paying there bills want to hear a multimillionaire tell them how he wants more money to play. When just his salary alone is probably more than 3 hospitals lower wage yearly payroll combined.

  30. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Absolutely, WillyG……for $14 million…..rent an apartment…..players get paid if they are sick…..but not if they don’t play.
    They are gone a great deal of the time anyway…..

  31. SB Says:

    Exactly what Willie G said.
    If you want to take the whole year off because you can afford it then fine.
    Shut your fat trap though about needing a raise if you play. Makes you sound like an entitled P.O.S.!
    You think I can tell my clients..” Well I am working through these dangerous times so I decided to raise my rates by 20%?
    LOOK AROUND you Donovan. MOST of the rest of the world around you have to go to work and are doing so for FAR less in a Year than you make in one week.
    You wanna sit? Sit! But STFU about money!

  32. bucsfaninoregon Says:

    PSL Bob- -Congratulations!!!!
    You are the only contributor to this blog (including the Joes) that has answered my question, “HOW does it work?” If all 32 teams did this it is possible we would have a fanless season. Good work! My contention is that it still wouldn’t work because some young hot-shot would seek out to see his squeeze on the side. He would get it, pass it on and down the season goes.
    But, at least you get it. Hats off!

  33. Isaac haggins Says:

    YEP !!!

  34. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Yeah….. those darn young hot shots……

  35. mark2001 Says:

    Anthem…if you can afford it, you can have a nice country lake home in a county twice the size of Pinellas with so few people that there have been only a total of ten cases in the entire county, one death among them, since this all began, and hunker down until there is a vaccine.

  36. Nate Says:

    I wonder If he didn’t just sign a huge contract…would he STILL feel the same on it….DOUBTFUL like his play the last 3years

  37. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Donovan is the last piece of softness left on this team.
    I hope he doesn’t play.
    I doubt he’ll be missed.

    Thanks for being mediocre at best.
    Go count your money and play with your baby.

  38. Jerry Jones Says:

    So Smith needed to be realistically warned, by Arians, before he could think about how this might effect his life?

    I believe it’s a bit ignorant on Smith’s part to no have considered it. I’ve had to consider it, all of you have had to consider it. What am I missing here? I understand the logic behind the argument, makes sense not wanting to expose your newborn and family, but the timing is extremely belated for him not to have thought about this. And needing to hear from the coach before discussing the thought is just an excuse to me.

    I’m on board with the players getting paid fairly, but the decisions and possibilities should have already been discussed like every other family has done. It shows a lack of professionalism on his part tbh.

  39. Chip Chipperson Says:

    If you made a pandemic movie where 99.9% of the American population survived…….lets just say it would be boring. Lets play some foosball ladies.

  40. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I have no problem with any player deciding between his family and his job….but, I do have a problem with a player whining about it.
    D Smith simply needs to keep those types of thoughts to himself and then make a decision….
    Seriously, does he think anyone has any sympathy for him at all……multi-millionaires complaining out loud when most of us average Joes (no pun) would be doing back flips to take his place.
    For all those putting it on the line for the rest of us for too little pay…..you are the ones that deserve our praise.

  41. DoooshLaRue Says:


  42. WillieG Says:

    Joe in Michigan

    I wasn’t comparing the two. I was simply saying if men can leave their families for a couple of years to secure freedom for their families and their country, then men who play football can surely secure their family’s financial future by “leaving” them for a few months.

    To me, it’s a no brainer. I served, and all I got was a monthly phone call, letters, and two 2 week vacations home during the two years I was in.

    But maybe DS is already set for life? Fine, let him sit at home and pass on millions……and when his replacement is cheaper and better, cut him.

  43. Buczilla Says:

    I’ve never been a huge fan of Donovan Smith and I think that paying him as a top 10 tackle when he is barely above average is foolish as hell. All that said, I don’t blame him one bit if he quits, retires or whatever. Family 1st 100% of the time.

  44. BigMacAttack Says:

    Donovan Smith has obviously never been a soldier or a Marine, sleeping in dirt where a clean bed, let alone your own is little more than a distant memory. The NFL is full of overpaid whiny babies. He should just keep his whiny a$$ at home. Find someone else.

  45. El Buco Realisto Says:

    Ole stale biscuit is treating the sickness, just like he did with Interceptions last year!!!!!!!!!! No wonder DS76 and other players are so worried!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sounds like ole stale biscuit will lead them to #1 to the worst stats again!!!!!!!!!!!! The “real” fans want all the player to take of themselves, because ole stale biscuit surely will not!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    go bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  46. DoooshLaRue Says:


    Your stale biscuit sh!t is beyond stale.
    I know you think it’s oh so clever but you should probably let it go.


  47. mark2001 Says:

    Bruce..considering your condition and your health history, seems you are far more at risk than any of your players to contract this illness and not make it through. Hope you stay healthy…would never want to see any coach or player die in the saddle, as they used to say.

  48. Joe in Michigan Says:

    WillieG: Thank you for your service. My post wasn’t meant to be derogatory towards you. If Donovan Smith’s heart isn’t in it, if he’s gonna be more worried about the Rona than blocking his guy, it’s better off if he stays home, IMHO.

  49. Greg Says:

    Intelligent conversation on this. Seems pretty simple, Mr. Smith state whether you play or not for no pay so the team can make adjustments. No judgement on that decision. Only fair and Mr Smith experiences the fall out if the replacement is better.

  50. BucsFanForever Says:

    There a voice we haven’t heard from in a while who will have the final yes/no say on players playing and fans in the stands: Governor deSantis. We last heard from the Governor in mid-may when he seemed all-in on football and other sports. Since then, if you Google it, not a peep on this topic since around May 15th. Back then, Florida was running at less than 1,000 new cases per day. Much different today.

  51. bucsfaninoregon Says:

    And there you go, BucsFF, you haven’t heard from him because he doesn’t know what the sh!t to do. He following the lead of the Dear Leader, who equally does not have a clue. I could sit here and pull a half dozen things right now out of my azz that would help (1. DON’T open schools), but I’m not your leaders. You can see, if you read the papers or reality TV, you guys are really, really hot right now. Take care.

  52. Sport Says:

    Bucsfan4ever – The decision has been made and a pretty significant precedent has already been set. Plus, if there’s no change to your policy, why publicly state anything. Do we need to hear ‘no change’. And ‘still no change’ a week or month later?

    MLB – greenlight
    NHL – greenlight
    NBA – greenlight
    NFL – greenlight
    Beaches- greenlight
    Disney- greenlight

    What more are you looking for on google from him. There’s your evidence.

    In BA I Trust!

  53. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Antifafaninoregon: I thank my lucky stars every day that you’re not our leader!!

  54. mark2001 Says:

    Don’t fear the reaper…death and pestilence has many to be thankful to. Were number one… victory smells like…napalm.