The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Carolina Panthers, and that led to some eh....heated moments. Jameis Winston flew off the handle against the referees for awarding a fumble to Julius Peppers, for which he later apologized.
That incident was widely published. One incident wasn’t, though: players apparently went after Chris Baker for blowing the game, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Baker jumped offside on fourth-and-short at the end of the game, turning a tough conversion into a very easy one for the Panthers and essentially gifting them a touchdown—the touchdown that would lose the Bucs the game. Gerald McCoy said after the game that he’d warned Baker not to jump offside.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, several players then “took issue with” Baker after the game, as he wasn’t particularly remorseful and was even smiling. Jameis Winston apparently went to confront him, but Lavonte David jumped in to stop him, while Kwon Alexander started swearing at Baker. All of that was audible on the Buccaneers’ post-game radio show, per the Tampa Bay Times.
That’s not all, apparently this was just the tip of the iceberg and some players and coaches have been annoyed with Baker since the offseason, according to Rick Stroud.
What's more, some players and coaches feel as if his attitude has been poor from the beginning in terms of effort, especially given what the Bucs are paying him. Unfortunately, the level of accountability demonstrated in the locker room Sunday didn't happen earlier in the season or training camp.
Wow. I guess we can’t expect Baker to return next year. The defensive tackle was signed in free agency, and has a three-year, $16 million deal. But the Bucs owe him nothing if they cut him this offseason.
On the one hand, this kind of thing shouldn’t happen, certainly not in range of cameras and microphones. On the other hand, the fact that players are taking exception to Baker’s behavior at least speaks to some players’ commitment to winning and this team.