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Part II: Will the real WR Michael Clayton please show up!

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Michael Clayton: Friend Or Foe?

In coming up with the title for my feature, I wanted something that could capture the riddle and mystery that is Michael Clayton. Perhaps no one in the NFL has so many fans behind him, Wanting, Willing him to do well. We applaud at the great catches, so few and far in between. We Groan at the drops, and conjure up our excuses before he is capable of uttering them himself.

Jon Gruden

Joey Galloway

Bruce Gradkowski

Surely all of those named above have a little to blame in the demise of the 2004 Rookie of the year runner up. Blame is a harsh word in this case though. It implies ill will, which maybe with the exception of the top choice, is not really present.

Joey Galloway emerged as the Go To guy in 2005 at the same time as Clayton’s Sophomore Slump. But was he the cause? No, even Michael will tell you so. He will point to his injury and subsequent surgery, something he seemed to follow each season with. The White Tiger would eventually become the Go To Guy for each QB thereafter too, probably for many reasons; the biggest of which is he was a Wide Receiver that actually RECEIVED the ball when it got to him.

TO be fair, not a single one of us performs well at his/her job when we don’t feel comfortable. Non-Appreciation can have a serious detrimental effect on anyone, the psyche of an NFL player especially.

Training camp 2008, Michael Clayton was said to have had a very good set of practices. His routes were reportedly sharper, and he was getting separation we were told. "This will be the year Mike Clayton makes a comeback." Only this time it seemed to be true. Then came opening day. The Bucs playing in New Orleans, the home of Clayton’s LSU Tigers regularly getting hundreds of his friends, family, and fans dressed in red #80 jerseys, would take the field without him. Jon Gruden deactivated him. He was not even dressed. It was considered an ultimate insult, one Clayton would not soon forget.

Yet we saw the results. A Touchdown vs the Raiders, his first since 2006, more catches, better route running, same tough plays, less injuries - One would say just getting over that opening day scarring says volumes about Clayton’s desire to get back into the Offense.

It’s Clear his talents have not escaped the rest of the NFL. Seattle and Minnesota were serious about signing him. But in the end, with Jon Gruden gone, Mike felt new Head Coach Raheem Morris and Offensive Coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski represented the clear break with the past he needed. Clayton signed a 5 year contract with the Buccaneers, a contract opening more than just a few eyes in the Tampa Bay area.

In the end though, it will be his 2009 resume that he carves out which will dispel or prove the notions about Michael Clayton. Is he our Friend? Or is he our Foe? Check out our friend in the video below:

Mike has a lot to offer the Bucs, but as fans we are tired of waiting and hearing the excuses. Each and every Bucs fan wants nothing more than to cheer for him loudly, hoping for success. We've heard about the dog house, we've heard about the injuries... Come to play Mike!

In case you missed our first video of Clayton the foe (aka Can't Catch Clayton), click the link below:

Part One of the two part Michael Clayton series...