Our leader has come at last. Josh Freeman is the answer to the prayers that Buccaneers fans have been saying for years. No longer will there be routine quarterback switches in which no receiver can find a rhythm. No longer will there be aging quarterbacks who are signed in order to "foster the development" of another 3rd string quarterback. And no longer will we fans see the Buccaneers defense trot onto the field after yet another three and out.
I must admit, I was yelling at the television screen as I watched the Buccaneers trade up for a quarterback I had never heard of from Kansas State. I thought to myself, here we go again, but I stand corrected. Josh Freeman is exactly what this franchise has been missing since Doug Williams.
Josh Freeman is the type of player who can completely turnaround a franchise. Now everybody talks about Freeman’s abilities on the field, his interception-to-touchdown ratio of an amazing .24, his completion percentage rising 7% in one year, his ability to avoid sacks despite a poor offensive line, and his ability not only to avoid the sophomore slump but also to create a sophomore growth that seems unprecedented.
But there is something else about Freeman that warrants highlighting -- his character. Freeman knows he is the face of a franchise and does his best to represent the Bucs in a way that makes everybody proud. He used to wear t-shirts or sweats to a press interview after a game, but now he wears suits. You don’t see him causing controversy in the locker room; in fact you see him being a leader on and off the field. When his receivers or blockers falter in their assignments, he gets in their face and helps them improve the next time. When the game is over and people are celebrating, he is in a room watching video of the game and attempting to limit the already few mistakes he makes.
Freeman may be so good at representing a franchise that he could be the very reason he is not written about enough. Hard work, leadership, and responsibility are not written about enough in the NFL. It is the negative players who get the most publicity. That is the public’s loss. As the Buccaneers know, they have a franchise player who will lead the organization to great success and they don’t need to care that other people know it. As long as Freeman does, they will be just fine.