We have entered full-blown media circus territory. Warren Sapp would invoke the name of Sam Wyche and call it a three-ring circus, I'm sure. Right now, though, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a public relations disaster and the new laughing stock of the NFL. As if losing to the Jets wasn't bad enough by itself.
It started late yesterday afternoon, when reports of a players-only meeting came out, with one of the supposed issues Josh Freeman's captaincy. Yep, the players reportedly did not trust that Greg Schiano had been fair in tallying the votes. Of course, the coach quickly denied rigging the contest. Then we saw stories that Josh Freeman had missed the annual team photo, first by JoeBucsFan and later by Pewter Report and the Tampa Bay Times.
The simplest explanation? Leaked by the Buccaneers (Update: denied by JoeBucsFan) to give some support to the idea that Freeman wasn't elected by his teammates. It's a little sad that that really is the most likely explanation here - even if it isn't true. And thus, we have a media circus, entirely of the Bucs' own making.
Did the New York Jets infect the Bucs with media circus disease? Was it a handshake between Greg Schiano and Rex Ryan that did it? Or maybe trading for Darrelle Revis brought the infection into the Bucs' training facility? Revis, the Trojan horse.
This entire offseason has been a collection of unnecessary drama followed by ridiculous statements. Schiano started it by suggesting that Freeman needed competition. Then he spent all of the offseason backpedaling, claiming that Freeman was totally their starter. And then they drafted Mike Glennon. Cue: more controversy, more media circus.
There was the Darrelle Revis trade epic, which seemed to have more twists and turns than the Odyssey. At least the joke appeared to be on the Jets in that saga. MRSA didn't help, of course. It happened, but that's not a media disaster. What turned that into a joke was the way the Buccaneers handled it. First by trying to cover it up, and then by trying to screw over Lawrence Tynes for no discernible reason.
And now, there's the suggestion that Schiano is somehow sabotaging Josh Freeman. Apparently, intentionally losing games is a real possibility in the eyes of the Tampa Bay Times. That is a bit over the top. Why? Because Shiano losing games does nothing for him, and if he thinks Mike Glennon is the better option, well, he can just start him. No need to turn the team into a circus or play silly mind games. Just insert him and be done with it.
But the fact that things like that are now a thing, the fact that Greg Schiano is widely seen as the asshole drill sergeant coach, the fact that we have two ludicrous, circus-like stories come out in one day -- all of that, suggests that yes, we are now in circus-territory. We are the New New York Jets. Complete with quarterback controversy, rumors of player mutiny, ridiculous handling of simple issues, losses to terrible opponents and a pretty good defense.
One thing can fix this, and one thing only: start winning some damn games.