Antoine Winfield Jr has been a key member of this Buccaneers defense and, although he couldn’t play in the NFC Championship, he’s a big reason that the Bucs are preparing to play in their second Super Bowl in franchise history.
Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht spoke with Peter King on King’s podcast last week and gave some insight into everything from the process of signing Tom Brady to the draft to the free agent acquisitions the team made to playing in a Super Bowl in their home stadium.
King was a spectator in the (virtual) draft room where Licht was making calls and eventually made a deal to land Tristan Wirfs with their first round pick. King mentioned two guys being towards the top of the Bucs’ draft board that they ultimately got - Wirfs and Antoine Winfield Jr.
When King asked Licht about Winfield, Licht talked about watching him in training camp and the team’s thoughts about him;
“Not every former NFL great who has a son playing in college, it doesn’t automatically mean they’re going to be a great player but it certainly helps when he has lived through most of his life watching his dad play in the NFL and what it takes, the grind, everything like that. So, that was a plus for us - not the deciding factor, but a plus.
It’s almost like these two - Tristan and Antoine - are related just in the way they act. They’re just great kids that just love football and they’re rookies this year so they didn’t want to overstep their boundaries - especially Antoine - of ‘Hey, I’m coming in here and I’m gonna be the leader.’ They’re soaking it all in.
I’ve talked to our coaches several times throughout the year telling them they’re doing a great job with Antoine, and (Nick Rapone) says, ‘Hell, if I’m doing a great job then I’m just doing a great job not screwing him up.’ I remember one day at practice, all the DB’s were standing around - we had a couple minutes before a new period started - and I was joking around and said ‘Let’s not let Antoine get a big head, now. He’s not perfect.’ And they all looked at me and said, ‘Oh, no. He is. He doesn’t make mistakes. This guy is perfect.’
It doesn’t go to his head. He’s a humble person and I think that’s the key to the success we’ve had this year so far. The whole team, it’s just a very selfless attitude.”
Having Winfield Jr. return to the field on Super Bowl Sunday would provide a huge boost to a defense that will have to perform better than they have all season long to unseat the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, but it may be safe to say that the best is yet to come with the young legacy player out of the University of Minnesota.
For more on Jason Licht’s interview with Peter King, check out the latest episode of the Peter King Podcast by using the player above or by clicking here.