The Buccaneers have become one of the top stories of the 2013 NFL season, but not for the reasons that a team would prefer to become one of the top stories of any NFL season.
Amid reports and denials and accounts of meetings aimed at clearing the air of smoke that supposedly isn’t there, the specifics remain unclear — but the general vibe isn’t positive.
Running back Doug Martin has shed a little light on the situation in an interview that will air tomorrow on NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk.
“We’re a family,” Martin tells Erik Kuselias, “and anybody who has a brother or two brothers, whoever has a family which is everybody, there will be some disagreements and some disputes and,we’re going to keep it in the family walls and we’ll sit down and talk about it like men. We’re going to handle it within the organization, and we’re going to move forward from it and leave what’s in the past.”
So what will be left in the past? That’s where Martin clams up.
“Everyone’s fine with each other and it’s just, we all got to hold each other accountable and do better and just picking each other up and keeping anything negative out of the family,” Martin said. “We’re fine now, we’re fine.”
Martin acknowledges that a players-only meeting was held before Week One, for the purposes of funneling any player issues to the coaching staff.
“That was mainly about the players coming together and if anybody had any questions or concerns then present them to anybody that was in that meeting and then take them upstairs to [coach Greg] Schiano and present it to him and it was just a time to, if anybody had like a. . . . We have four captains and we can’t have all 53 guys go upstairs. The players’ meeting is to get everybody’s ideas and concerns to the four captains so they can take it upstairs.”
The answer strongly implies that the players had (and still may have) concerns. We reported that one of the concerns was the legitimacy of the vote to determine the team captains. (Whether the vote was legitimate — and it apparently was — is a question separate and distinct from whether the players had concerns about the legitimacy of the vote.) Apparently, there were other concerns.
It makes sense for the players not to air dirty laundry in public. But just enough of the stink has been creeping out of the building to create the unmistakable impression that there are multiple problems in One Buc Place.
A win over the Patriots would go a long way toward solving some of those problems, but Martin opted not to pull a Victor Cruz.
“I wouldn’t say ‘must-win’ game but we want to win,” Martin said. “But we don’t want to put any extra emphasis on it than any other games. We want to win the game.”
If they do, those questions and concerns the players have won’t feel quite as important, at least for a little while.