Freedom Feels Great

July 24th, 2022

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How would I describe my six years working for this organization?


Yes, six Buc seasons have passed since JoeBucsFan hired an unemployed reporter whose newspaper had just folded. After a quarter-century at The Tampa Tribune, I was one of more than 200 employees suddenly cast aside when the paper ceased publication.

Should I retire? Too early.

Should I look for another journalism job in another region? It’s not easy to match the Tampa Bay lifestyle.

While I was in limbo, the two overseers of this website approached me with an offer I couldn’t refuse. Come join us, they said, and you can write whatever you want. On your podcast, you can say anything you want.

The Sage hard at work.

They kept their word.

Six years later, I can’t remember a single time when the guys who sign the checks canceled a column or even suggested a certain slant. It was a major change from the Tribune, where my opinions about the Bucs took a backseat to my reporting.

Since coming aboard, I’ve been accused of being a homer. I’ve also been accused of being too negative. You know what that means? I’m doing my job.

So much has happened on the Buc beat since the summer of 2016.

Dirk Koetter replaced Lovie Smith and almost led Tampa Bay to the playoffs until back-to-back losses at Dallas and New Orleans spoiled the party. The next season was a disaster as the Buc defense allowed the most yards in the league.

The 2018 season began with Jameis Winston serving a suspension. Ryan Fitzpatrick generated early excitement before fading. It became obvious Koetter wasn’t going to make it back for a fourth year and Jason Licht’s job also looked precarious until he lured Bruce Arians out of retirement.

Arians was inclined to stick with Winston for 2020 until Winston imploded, costing the Bucs a chance at a 9-7 finish in 2019. Then along came Tom Brady — and everything changed.

Through it all, there was off-field intrigue.

The draft was hit or miss. For every Chris Godwin, there was an O.J. Howard. For every Carlton Davis, there was Vernon Hargreaves. Until Brady arrived, home attendance was an eyesore. There were improvements at Raymond James Stadium and an indoor facility was constructed at One Buc Place.

Through the years, nobody told me what to write. Nobody told me what to say. Instead, I was encouraged to address the issues of the day, regardless of the take.

If you’re familiar with some other publications that cover the Bucs, you know that’s not always the case. You know playing nice with Buc management is the prime objective with some of these “journalists.”

Not on this watch.

Only Ira can get away with standing behind the head coach at a televised news conference.

There are ways to be critical about a franchise while being fair. And let’s face it, there hasn’t been much to complain about in these past two seasons. But when you go 12 years without a playoff berth, you’re going to draw the heat.

We serve Buc fans on this site, armed with the belief true supporters can stomach the truth. In fact, they relish it. These are good times at JoeBucsFan because interest in this team has been at a peak since No. 12 chose the Bucs over other suitors. More interest means more eyeballs on the site and more listeners to the podcast.

Let the good times roll.

For me, these past six years have been refreshing and invigorating.

Hopefully, you’ve also enjoyed the ride.

Ira loves that lifetime warranty on new and used vehicles!

Enjoy this weekend’s Ira Kaufman Podcast. Ira talks Kyle Rudolph, training camp changes and a lot more.

40 Responses to “Freedom Feels Great”

  1. J Ghotier Says:


    I know this is off-topic, but you would have a more informed and educated opinion/reason as to why this is….

    I keep seeing all these other teams unveiling their secondary helmets to wear in the upcoming 2022 season, WHY is it exactly that we can’t do our secondary creamsicle, Bucco Bruce helmet (and uniform) this year and have to wait for the 2023 season?! Why are so many other teams able to do it for this season and not us…

    Great article and major compliment to the Joe(s) for letting you have that freedom to truly report

    And you can be a Bucs “homer” all you want to Ira!

  2. ATLBucsFan Says:

    I’ve enjoyed the ride Ira. Thanks.

  3. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Glad you’re here Ira.

  4. Bojim Says:

    Wow. Six years? Time really moves. We’re so glad you have been with Joe.

  5. RDY Says:

    Glad to have you still with us.

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    You’ve come a long way, Ira…….coming from the days of Arch Deal, Salty Sol Fleishman & Andy Hardy to JBF…..oh how the times have change…..
    Those are the ones I remember from the broadcast side……didn’t know the Media General print dudes…..

  7. TomR Says:

    Thank you Ira!

  8. Kev@Inverness Says:

    Yes indeed Ira, thank you!

  9. Hodad Says:

    When the times folds, don’t hire Stroud.

  10. unbelievable Says:

    A great addition to an already great team.

    Nice to have you around, Irv.

  11. Buczilla Says:

    You are the best Ira!

  12. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Congrats IRA! And you are at a stage in your life where you can really appreciate your current gig.

  13. Bob Higginbotham Says:

    Ira, it has been a major joy for me to read and hear your vintage journalistic thoughts over the years. It’s interesting how your vintage mind also applies to the present world of football, especially the Bucs.

    Please continue to share your wisdom with us. I am a fan!!!

  14. Chuckstutz Says:

    I remember that day you joined the Joes. Followed your columns at the times and was hopeful for everyone’s success at JBFs. Have not been disappointed!
    I often think how lucky our Tampa market is to have this kind of coverage of our favorite team. No other team has anything close!

  15. Goatfarmer Says:

    Only 60 more to go!

  16. Chris Tucker@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I could not imagine JBF w/o you Ira!
    I was a fan of yours from back in the Tampa Tribune days, and still a Fan.

  17. Leighroy Says:

    Love Ira! My only question is, has JBF not “censoring” Ira and allowing his voice freedom given him increased at the HOF presentation meetings? We surely know you’ll be busy in the coming decade!

  18. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Which gig pays better, JBF or TT?

  19. Leighroy Says:

    Increased stature*

  20. Red-sparrow Says:

    Nice little recent history recap there for a Brady fan like me who hadn’t followed the Bucs at all before 2020. Great article IRA, very informative.

  21. Jbeachbuc Says:

    Hats off to you Sage… much respect!

  22. Wade Landry Says:

    Thank you 🙏 and the bosses for this site awesome 👏 job.

  23. Delusional Intelligence Says:

    This union has been synergistic! You are the cherry on top of the JBF sundae! Thank you Ira, Lee & Steve!

  24. Cobraboy Says:

    I liked you with the “other brand”, too.

    I never miss a Sage podcast. (Props to Steve & Lee, too.)

  25. CherryBuc Says:

    I’m just glad Ira’s still alive. Dude has to be pushing 85.

  26. Mike Says:

    Definitely glad you stayed around to cover the Bucs! One of the best!

  27. WillieG Says:

    You were my favorite sports reporter at the Trib. I was very happy when Joe brought you on. I hope they pay you well, and I hope you stay for a long time. Thanks for all the great articles!

  28. Lou Says:

    Ira —

    Over your Ruskin tomato slices topped with mayonnaise, Gibsonton egg whites splashed with Datil pepper sauc and sliced Plant City strawberries, washed down with Cuban coffee, these tidbits:

    Buc fans would like to know the real history of the Freeman failure, the true story of the Jameis unraveling, and the story behind the Arians about face. Not for the Big Dog Dumeig but for the average fan.

    Yours truly,

    Tom McEwen.

  29. Joe Says:

    Over your Ruskin tomato slices topped with mayonnaise, Gibsonton egg whites splashed with Datil pepper sauc and sliced Plant City strawberries, washed down with Cuban coffee, these tidbits:

    Think you are confusing Ira with Tom McEwen (who hired Ira).

  30. Joe Says:

    Ira, sadly, won’t respond to comments on JoeBucsFan (but he does read them). Joe can help you here:

    Buc fans would like to know the real history of the Freeman failure,

    Combination of things. He simply didn’t have the mental makeup or drive to be an NFL quarterback, despite the team putting up the front that he loved football so much. It was a con. And no, Schiano did not break him. If anything “broke” Freeman besides Freeman it was Kellen Winslow. Freeman was petrified of Winslow and Winslow was in his head demanding every pass be thrown to him. Joe a few years ago was told by an NFL suit that “everything I hear is that [Freeman’s meltdown] had to do with drugs, either prescription or non-prescription.” But there is zero (known) proof of that. Just hearsay.

    the true story of the Jameis unraveling

    Jameis never unraveled. He put up solid if not strong numbers. He had his best season with Arians. His problem was picks. But like everything else with the Bucs, he got sucked in by the loser mentality the franchise had. It even got to Jameis.

    and the story behind the Arians about face.

    What about-face? You suggesting Arians gave up on Jameis? Arians didn’t give up on him. 1) Arians had a chance to get the greatest quarterback in the world. So he got him. Who would pass that up? 2) Jameis was asking for a ridiculous amount of cash (more than Brady got).

  31. Lakewood Ranch Phil Says:

    This is why I love this site! True journalism at it’s finest with real opinions not tied to political or upper level management influences. Even the fact the often the two Joe’s disagree make it more informative and let the reader decide. My coworkers often wonder how I know so much about the entire team and I love tell them about

    No I am definitely not a paid advocate, but rather a 9 year reader that hopes this can remain a family oriented site that my 7 year old will one day read.

  32. Joe Says:

    My coworkers often wonder how I know so much about the entire team and I love tell them about

    Thank you for the kind words!

    You are not alone. Joe often hears from supervisors who say they have to chase employees away from the site because they spend a chunk of their mornings hitting F5 on their keyboards waiting for a new story to pop. 🙂

  33. Billyboy2211 Says:

    Class irv straight class

  34. Goatfarmer Says:

    And Joe, thanks for the Freeman explanation. My niece was engaged to a guy who played 4 years of D1 college football same time as Freeman, and went to high school in Freeman’s high school district They knew each other, he had Freeman in his phone. The conversation I had with him about Freeman came in 2012, several games after Freeman’s great comeback against the Panthers when he was fading. The guy said “In high school, he liked football. He never loved it. He loved partying and could drink everyone under the table.” He said other things about Freeman’s personal life that don’t need repeating here. Overall, Super Uber talented and smart, but not a hard worker because he never had to. Assumed the same about his college career. He predicted what happened next.

    At least it seems Freeman may have salvaged some kind of a life. Maybe.

  35. OrlandoBucFan Says:

    I guess it was either Ira or Roy Cummings? Great pick Joes!

  36. BillyBucco Says:

    Thx for what you do IRA.
    I have always felt your passion through what you write.
    1st site I check in the morning.

  37. Razor Ramone Says:

    From one Boston Terrier guy to another, great work Ira.

  38. mark2001 Says:

    Six years? Wow Ira. You were just a young pup when you started, weren’t you.

  39. Trucker Buc Says:

    No disrespect to the Joes. They do great work and provide an invaluable resource for information for Bucs fans, but Mr. Ira is a gem and we’re all privileged to enjoy the content he puts out on his podcast and in his articles. Thanks, Ira and Joes for what you do!

  40. D-Rome Says:

    Congratulations Ira!