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  • McCardell to skip camp in protest

    Bucs Pro Bowler says he wants to be paid like the average No. 1 receiver.
    By ROGER MILLS, Times Staff Writer
    Published June 22, 2004

    TAMPA - He doesn't want to shatter the Bucs' salary cap. He isn't asking to be compensated like Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison or Randy Moss.

    What Bucs receiver Keenan McCardell wants is to be paid close to the average of the league's No. 1 receivers.

    Now, he's about to make his point.

    After missing all 14 of the "voluntary" offseason team practices, McCardell said Monday he will not take part in the mandatory three-day minicamp that starts today. He said he will stay in Houston until the Bucs make him an offer he can't refuse.

    "I just want to be treated fairly," McCardell said from his Houston home. "When I signed (with the Bucs) it was to complement Keyshawn (Johnson), and even prior to his departure I was performing as a top receiver. And I'm still performing as a top receiver. I'm not trying to break the bank. It's fair for any employee in any line of work to get a raise when he gets a promotion or increased responsibility. ... That's fair."

    The veteran receiver, who has been silent about his contract situation since the end of the 2003 season, said he is making a stand based on his production and his work ethic.

    "I really think I'm a hard-working employee," he said. "I started from the bottom and worked my way to the top. I have never caused a problem in the locker room. I've been a consummate team player. I'm not trying to cash in on last year's season, I'm fighting for what's fair. I think the public would agree I was a Pro Bowl receiver and I deserve to be paid at least the average of the No. 1 receivers."

    McCardell, 34, has two years left on a four-year contract. He is due to earn $2.5-million this season and $2.75-million in his final year.

    McCardell's absence at this week's minicamp could cost him up to $1,000, the maximum fine allowed by the league's collective bargaining agreement. He could be fined $5,000 a day for any missed time at training camp, according to the CBA.

    "I understand that situation, I've been in the league long enough," said McCardell, entering his 13th season. "I'm fighting over a principle. What is fair and just, and sometimes you have to take some risks. Stand up for what you believe. ... I understand that there are negatives, including fines and other economic sanctions that go along with my situation, but I have to do what I know is in my heart."

    In keeping with team policy, Bucs general manager Bruce Allen does not comment on contract negotiations. McCardell's Las Vegas agent, Gary Uberstine, also wouldn't comment.

    Negotiations between Allen and Uberstine are ongoing with the hope of a resolution before July 30, when the team reports for training camp in Orlando.

    Should things not get resolved by then, McCardell could be the first Bucs player to hold out since linebacker Derrick Brooks at the start of the 2001 season.

    "I'm going to be here in Houston working out until the Bucs decide to treat me fairly," he said. "How long? I don't know. I want to be with my teammates, but I'm willing to wait it out until the team is ready to bring me back to play football."

    In 2003, McCardell had a career year that ended with his second Pro Bowl appearance. With a series of clutch catches, some of them tying touchdowns, McCardell was a bright light in a dark season.

    He finished his 12th NFL campaign with 84 catches for 1,174 yards and a career-high eight receiving touchdowns. He added a ninth touchdown on a fumble recovery. McCardell said his 724 career receptions and five 1,000-yard seasons are proof that last year was not a flash.

    "In 2003, I had a good year but it wasn't my best," he said. "I've had five seasons of over 80 catches. ... That's production."

    Considered one of the league's craftiest receivers, McCardell came to the Bucs with a reputation for professionalism on and off the field.

    In his two seasons in Tampa Bay, he has totaled 145 catches for 1,844 yards and 15 touchdowns. He had seven catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns in the Bucs' 48-21 win over the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.

    Off the field, McCardell has been involved in a number of charitable programs involving the American Cancer Society and has provided toys and turkeys for children during the holiday season.

    But at 34, is age an issue?

    "It's about my production, not my age," said McCardell, who plans to play five more seasons. "My best three seasons have come over the last four seasons. It seems I get better with age. I've got a lot left in my tank. I think I'm in my prime right now and can play at a very, very high level. I showed it last year and will continue to show it.

    "I'm not a 4.2 (speed) guy like Joey Galloway. I'm the production guy that comes to work every day and catches everything. I don't think 34 is a matter to me. My production speaks louder than anything. I continue to make plays."

    McCardell said he'd prefer not to have missed the OTAs but continues to work out in Houston and will be ready when the contract situation is settled.

    "Yes, I could (play right away)," he said. "I've been in the league 12 years and know how to take care of my body and stay in shape. I'm one of those guys who come to camp in shape, not to get in shape. I wish I was getting reps with Brad (Johnson) and the rest of the offense. But, that's why I'm called a veteran. I've been doing it for 12 years."

    Still under contract, McCardell said he would like to return to the Bucs but has not ruled out the team trading or releasing him.

    "Nothing surprises me in this league," he said. "I had a personal experience about loyalty with (the Jaguars). They released me. I don't think many people thought that John (Lynch) and Warren (Sapp) would be so blatantly dismissed after all the contributions they did for the team and the city of Tampa. ... If I had underperformed or been injured, I probably wouldn't be a Buc, too. It's possible the Bucs could trade me if the situation drags on."

    McCardell said he isn't worried about backlash from his teammates.

    "A lot of guys know how passionate I feel about this game," he said. "They know I would love to be out there and help them get back to the Super Bowl, but they know the business of the game, too."

Related Topics


  • Nick
    McCardell ready to sit out season
    by Nick
    Veteran will play when Bucs agree to pay him like one of the league's top receivers
    By ROGER MILLS, Times Staff Writer
    Published June 24, 2004

    TAMPA - The agent for receiver Keenan McCardell said Wednesday there appears to be a stalemate in resolving the contract dispute that is keeping the Bucs' leading receiver from minicamp.

    Responding to statements made by general manager Bruce Allen on Tuesday, Gary Uberstine said the 12-year veteran is prepared to not only miss training camp but part, if not all, of the season."There is and will be no resolution in sight until some point during the regular season, at which point everyone loses," Uberstine said. Uberstine said McCardell is resolved to stay away until the Bucs make him a better offer. "If it's gone six months with no progress, there's no reason to think that the next six months are going to be any different or better," Uberstine said. "I'm certainly hopeful and optimistic that something can bridge the difference between now and then, but I have no reason to believe that."

    McCardell, due to make $2.5-million this season and $2.75-million in his final year, has asked for a deal close to the average of the top receivers in the league. Those who are not in their rookie contracts average $4.4-million.

    Uberstine was particularly concerned about Allen's comments that the dispute was based on money.

    "Most things in life and business contain some financial component, and that doesn't make them dishonest, selfish or unreasonable," Uberstine said. "I'm certain if the team had its way it would pay players as little as possible." Uberstine said McCardell is in elite company with 410 catches and 5,052 yards the past five seasons. Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, Rod Smith and Jimmy Smith are the only other receivers to accomplish that feat.

    The Bucs said they have no plans to negotiate a new deal and pointed out that McCardell is under contract for two more years.

    "Contracts in the NFL have essentially become one-year deals," said Uberstine, pointing out players are forced to take a pay cut for poor performance or injury. "Teams cannot adhere fairly to such a practice yet not recognize the converse."

    Last season, McCardell led the Bucs with 84 receptions, 1,180 yards and eight receiving touchdowns. He has 724 career receptions and five 1,000-yard seasons.

    The Bucs appear less than willing to engage in a long-term deal with McCardell, 34. Allen commented Tuesday that he has a good idea of what the market value is for older receivers such as the Raiders' Tim Brown.

    "The reference to Tim Brown is interesting," Uberstine said. "Because Bruce and the Raiders signed Tim Brown to a contract where he received $8.5-million over two years to play at...
    -06-24-2004, 11:23 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Bucs] Barber Beats The System
    by DJRamFan
    By ROY CUMMINGS [email protected]
    Published: Oct 14, 2004

    TAMPA - Bucs coach Jon Gruden has been talking all season about finding a way to get cornerback Ronde Barber involved in his offense.
    As it turns out, the only thing Gruden had to do to get some offense out of Barber was leave him on defense.

    It may be more of an indictment of the Bucs offense than an example of the veteran's versatility, but Barber leads the team with two touchdowns.

    ``Hey, I'm just doing my job,'' Barber said. ``If you look at the board that lists our job descriptions on defense, it says score and get the ball back for our offense.

    ``I take that literally.''

    Good thing. If not for Barber's latest TD - a fumble return Sunday against New Orleans - the Bucs (1-4) might still be winless.

    Though their offense had its best game of the season against the Saints, it was Barber's second-quarter score that gave the Bucs a lead they never lost.

    ``It's plays like that that win you games,'' Gruden said. ``And in the last few years Ronde Barber has made a lot of them for us.''

    He's made eight to be precise - more touchdowns than any defender ever to wear a Bucs uniform.

    Nevertheless, Barber, 29, can't seem to shake the image of a player who excels only because he works well in the Bucs' zone-based system.

    The label ``system guy'' has hung with him like a shadow. If you need proof, check out the 2004 Sporting News Pro Football Scouting Guide.

    ``In any other scheme,'' the guide says, ``Barber would not be nearly as productive.''

    What's supposedly holding Barber back, according to the scouts, is the fact he lacks ideal speed and strength.

    But at least one former foe doesn't buy any of the knocks. Not anymore, he doesn't.

    ``In Oakland we didn't really hear that much about him, not even during Super Bowl week,'' former Raiders receiver Tim Brown said. ``All anybody ever really said was that he was a good corner.

    ``But since I've been here I've developed a whole new level of respect for him. ...

    ``There's more to being a cornerback than knocking down balls and that kind of stuff, you know, and he has it all. He has cover ability, he can tackle you, he has the ability to digest formations and play intelligent football.

    ``Believe me, I've been around a long time and seen a lot of guys and you see a lot of guys with one or two of those skills, but you rarely see guys with all of them. He's got all of them. And on top of that, he's tough as nails.''

    Mentally tough is what Bucs defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin calls Barber, who admits it took him a while to get over the knocks that scouts delivered in evaluating him.

    ``It used to...
    -10-14-2004, 05:26 PM
  • Curly Horns
    Keenan does have a point, but he's wrong
    by Curly Horns
    By DEREK REDD, [email protected]
    June 30, 2004

    In holding out this preseason, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Keenan McCardell is not making the wisest decision.

    But why he's making it is understandable.

    McCardell was a 12-year veteran brought in as option No. 2 behind Keyshawn Johnson. He was then thrust into the No. 1 spot after Keyshawn's relationship with the Bucs melted down. He was one of the few bright spots on an otherwise disappointing 7-9 Bucs team. He caught 84 balls for 1,174 yards fifth in the NFC and eight touchdowns.

    He earned $2 million in 2003.

    Muhsin Muhammad got $3.9 million to catch 54 passes for 837 yards and three scores. Marty Booker got $2.5 million to catch 52 passes for 715 yards and four scores.

    McCardell will earn a 2004 base salary of $2 million this season, plus a $500,000 roster bonus. That's still less than the $4.4 million Muhammad will make or the $2.7 million Booker will make.

    So if he's the team's No. 1 receiver and produces No. 1 receiver numbers, he'd like to get paid like a No. 1 receiver. He's not in the $5 million-plus club like Marvin Harrison or Randy Moss, but the Bucs should put a little more space between his salary and, say, Peter Warrick's ($2.06 million).

    The popular refrain among print and radio pundits is that McCardell should shut his trap, report to camp and whatever happens, happens. Once he finishes the last two years of his contract, then he and the team can talk.

    Not really.

    McCardell is 34 years old. The pundits also point out that 34-year-old wideouts don't make big-time money. Well, unless you're Jerry Rice, 36-year-olds don't make that money, either.

    They get cut for being over the hill.

    He can't really play himself into a better contract. By the time his current one expires, the Bucs can balk at a bigger paycheck, with his age as their excuse. Now is the only time he can make more money, and if holding out is his sole weapon, then he's using it.

    But he's using it against the wrong team at the wrong time.

    This Bucs regime doesn't budge. It paid Keyshawn to sit on his can at home for the second half of 2003. It jettisoned John Lynch and Warren Sapp without so much as a goodbye. When Jon Gruden says he's willing to move forward without McCardell, you should take him at his word.

    The rest of the receiving corps didn't help McCardell's chances at last week's mini-camp. Joey Galloway looked good, as did rookie Michael Clayton. And if Joe Jurevicius fully recovers from injury, the Bucs have three exceptional receivers and McCardell's name isn't among them.

    So McCardell will fight for more money, money he probably deserves, the only way he knows how. He and the Bucs will stare each other down to see who flinches first.

    I can't say I agree with...
    -07-01-2004, 12:01 AM
  • DJRamFan
    [Bucs] The present is Griese's, if only for one week
    by DJRamFan
    By GARY SHELTON, Times Sports Columnist
    Published October 11, 2004

    NEW ORLEANS - Yesterday belongs to someone else. Tomorrow has already been promised.

    All Brian Griese has is today.

    For him, for now, it is enough.

    He does not instill faith, the way an old starter does. He does not carry hope the way a young one does.

    All Griese provided was a victory.

    For the Bucs, for the time being, it was plenty.

    When it came to saving the day, was anyone looking toward Griese? When it came to a lifeguard dragging a season out of choppy water, did anyone look his direction?

    In a season that came down to a choice of Brad vs. Chris, he was the overlooked quarterback. No one pleaded his case. No one called his name. He was just another son of another quarterback-turned-analyst, another passer who was interesting enough to notice but not inviting enough to debate.

    Until Sunday, that is, when Griese quietly and efficiently dropped his name into the Bucs' quarterback debate.

    Griese came off the bench to win the game for the Bucs on Sunday. On a team that has been erratic, he provided efficiency. In a situation bordering on chaos, he supplied calm. He was precise, poised, polished. In other words, against the Saints, he out-Bradded Brad.

    Considering that Griese had been stuck between forlorn and forgotten, he had a pretty spiffy day.

    Who would have figured Griese would steal the show? Sunday was supposed to belong to Chris Simms, boy wonder. Griese was just another unpicked player in the Dating Game.

    When the Bucs benched Brad Johnson earlier in the week, they looked right past Griese. Why not? In his career, Griese has been called everything but special. In the game of Who's-Your-Daddy, you would have expected Phil Simms, the old Giant, to have had the warm father-son chat on Sunday evening. Instead the call went to Bob Griese, the old Dolphin.

    For 20 plays, Simms looked like exactly the right choice. Of the Bucs quarterbacks, Simms has the most voltage, and there is something to his play that seems to energize his team. He moved well in the pocket, and he threw fastballs.

    Then Simms was sacked, and the muscles in his left shoulder were twisted into braids. That was when Griese rose from the ashes and said hello. He hit 16 of 19 passes, and he controlled the game like Bobby Fischer at a chess board.

    And now for the big question:

    Who starts now?

    If you are Jon Gruden, the answer lies in Simms' sore shoulder. If Simms' shoulder isn't damaged, it's an easy decision. You made it last week.

    Provided Simms somehow wakes up over the next few mornings and, whillickers, his shoulder is all healed, then he should start against the Rams. None of his 20 snaps against the Saints were an argument...
    -10-11-2004, 02:18 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Bucs] Walker May Unseat Steussie At Tackle
    by DJRamFan
    From The Tampa Tribune
    Published: Oct 12, 2004

    TAMPA - The switch to Brian Griese at quarterback may not be the only change the Bucs make to their starting lineup for Monday night's game.
    The Bucs also may name a new starter at right tackle, where incumbent Todd Steussie and Kenyatta Walker seem to be headed in opposite directions.

    Steussie, an 11-year veteran who received a $4 million free- agent signing bonus, has started every game but struggled in his transition to the right side. Sunday, he was beaten for the first-quarter sack that injured starting QB Chris Simms.

    Walker's reps have increased steadily the past two weeks, and he played every offensive snap in Steussie's place after the sack that knocked out Simms.

    On Monday, Coach Jon Gruden refused to name a starter, saying he will let the players' practice performances decide their fate. He added that the competition has been especially good for Walker.

    ``I think Todd Steussie has brought out the best in Kenyatta Walker,'' Gruden said. ``And that was our intent all along - to let the best man play.''

    BRAD STAYING PUT: Though he wouldn't go as far as to name Brad Johnson the No. 2 quarterback this week, Gruden stressed the former starter is a ``big part of this team, and he's going to continue to be that.''

    Johnson has declined to comment to the local media since his benching, but he said in an interview with that he would be open to a trade if it was the ``right situation'' and ``the sooner, the better.''

    ``We are not going to trade Brad Johnson,'' Gruden said, addressing rumors that have been circulating since Johnson was demoted last week for Simms. ``I am not going to answer all of the rumor mill.''

    Griese, this week's starter, has been in a similar situation as Johnson. His first year as a starter in Denver, the Broncos began the season 0-4 and he was benched. Griese also dealt with a shoulder injury and can empathize with Simms.

    ``I know exactly where Brad is right now and how he feels,'' Griese said. ``I know exactly where Chris is and what he feels. I've been in that situation as well.

    ``Right now it's a situation where we need to go out and win some games so whatever the quarterback position, the three of us need to go out and do it and we'll all be cool for each other.''

    THE SOUND OF SILENCE: Gruden won't be listed on the injury report this week, but he could be. He's suffering from a case of laryngitis so bad that the Bucs considered bringing in a backup play caller during Sunday's game.

    ``We brought [quarterbacks coach] John Shoop out of the press box just in case he had to call the plays,'' Gruden said in a voice even more raspy than usual Monday.

    ``Maybe we should have brought him out and let...
    -10-12-2004, 08:47 AM