In the wake of Sunday’s loss to the Falcons, which dropped the Buccaneers to 0-6, comments emerged from Super Bowl XXXVII MVP Dexter Jackson regarding his experiences with Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano and his staff.
And the Buccaneers have decided, after several weeks of taking punches, to respond.
“Schiano sent his guy over to run me out of practice one day,” Dexter Jackson told 98.7 The Fan on Sunday morning, via Deadspin. “This guy said, ‘Who are you? What are you doing here? You can’t be here.’ I said, ‘Go get the Glazers if you want me to leave.’ He [Schiano] tried to run me out.”
The Buccaneers, via Director of Communications Nelson Luis, offered more details regarding the incident, which Jackson claimed happened this year. The Bucs contend it occurred in 2012.
“Dexter showed up unannounced at the facility during a Saturday walk thru before our game against the Philadelphia Eagles last season,” Luis told PFT via email. “Because he wasn’t expected, one of the football staffers, who had never met Dexter, approached him and asked if he could help him. Dexter said that he was a former player and that he had been told he could come out whenever he wanted. The staffer explained that we would be happy to have him out at the facility but that the usual protocol with former players is to tell us they are coming. Dexter was allowed to stay for the remainder of practice and actually spent a few minutes after practice on the field with a couple of the players and was formally introduced to Coach Schiano.”
Jackson also claimed that the team told him to stop bringing children to the facility.
“I usually bring kids to One Buc Place, fourth and fifth graders in Hillsborough County and Pinellas County doing my case management work with a lot of youth in this area,” Jackson said. “They told me to stop bringing kids on Friday because I’m distracting professional players. I’m distracting professional players by bringing kids who have succeeded in school, did well, stayed out of trouble, and they’re a distraction? If they’re a distraction, I’m worried about fans during away games. How can that be a distraction?”
The Buccaneers explained that the issue isn’t bringing kids to the facility. The issue is bringing them to the facility on days when players are present.
“We have an established community program that allows select groups of elementary school students to take tours of One Buccaneer Place as an incentive program,” Luis said. “The tours are conducted on Tuesdays because that is the player’s day off and allows access to many of the most compelling areas of the facility such as the locker room, training room, weight room, etc. The Buccaneer organization is deeply committed to children and education as the core of our community relations platforms and coach Schiano has been supportive of our efforts in those areas. . . .
“We would have been happy to work with Dexter to find an appropriate day and time to assist him with the commendable work he is doing with his children in the community. However, Fridays during the NFL season are an important day of final preparations for the upcoming game and would not be the ideal day to host a group of children.”
While it’s impossible to conclusively resolve this one absent hard evidence of what was said to Jackson and what Jackson said in response, it makes sense for the team to provide its version of the events. As the losses mount, more and more folks will jump on the anti-Schiano bandwagon, pushing it more quickly toward a destination that, with each additional defeat, is looking more and more inevitable.
Still, it’s important that anyone who throws darts at Schiano aim for accuracy. The picture painted by Jackson with broad strokes overlooks Schiano’s involvement in Family First’s All Pro Dad’s program, The Pepin Academy, Athletes in Action, and Metropolitan Ministries. Schiano also has purchased tickets for underprivileged children to home games over the past two seasons.
The Bucs have another home game on Thursday night against the Panthers. A long-awaited win would help quiet at least some of the noise.