Few players in the National Football League have been met with the whirlwind of confusion that has been levied against Buccaneer quarterback Luke McCown this offseason.
It started with the Bucs signing McCown to a two-year, $7.5 million contract which seemed to be a message to fans that McCown was finally the starting quarterback for a team headed in a new direction.
Entering his fifth season as a Buccaneer, it seemed to be an opportunity that the 27-year-old truly deserved. However, coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik would then go on to spend the next few months referring to the Jon Gruden-style book of acquisitions and loading up their roster with questionable quaterbacks.
The first strike of uncertain lightning came in early April when Byron Leftwich was brought into Tampa with a contract identical to the one McCown had signed. Most assumed that this deal would dismiss the idea of the Bucs going after Kansas State quarterback prospect Josh Freeman in the upcoming NFL Draft.
The resounding thunder would come when Freeman was indeed chosen by Tampa Bay with the 17th pick in the draft. Morris and Dominik had thrown common thinking out of the window and gone with Morris' guy from his Kansas State days.
Morris has been quick to title Freeman as the "future" of the Bucs without ever seeing him take an NFL snap. This has led McCown into a paranoid defensive state throughout early offseason workouts. He refuses to give up the job that he has worked so hard for.
The following are my questions for a Luke McCown feature interview:
- After being born and raised in the college football-rich state of Texas and watching your older brother Randy play quarterback for Texas A&M, was it disappointing to play your college football on a smaller stage at Louisiana Tech?
- When most people think of Louisiana Tech football, they immediately envision Terry Bradshaw. What kind of influence, if any, does he still have on the program, and were you ever engaged in football discussions with him?
- After just one season in Cleveland, you were traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. What was that quick change in scenery like, and what was your outlook upon heading to Tampa?
- Between Brian Griese, Jeff Garcia, and Bruce Gradkowski, how difficult and frustrating was it for you to sit back and watch other quarterbacks continuously leap over you into the starting job during the Gruden era?
- What is your overall opinion of the Gruden era? What was your personal relationship like with him, and how did you feel about his obsession with veteran quarterbacks?
- What were your immediate feelings about Raheem Morris when he was first announced as Tampa Bay's new head coach?
- Did you view the Byron Leftwich signing as a legitimate threat to your job or as more of an insurance pick for depth at quarterback?
- The selection of Josh Freeman in the draft left many across Tampa speechless and in a confused and angry state of shock. What was your reaction to hearing the news of the Freeman pick?
- How hard was it to sit back and hear coach Morris happily exclaim that Freeman is "his guy", and that he is the direction that this franchise is headed?
- With Morris' apparent preference for Freeman as quarterback, do you feel that you will even have a fair chance to retain the starting job for any significant amount of time?
- Has Morris actually sat you down individually and gone over this entire situation with you?
- How much of your motivation for performing well in the upcoming season comes from a desire to showcase your abilities for a possible trade?
- To be completely honest, most fans have very bleak expectations for the upcoming season. Season ticket sales have rapidly decreased, overall fan interest is dwindling, and many are already angry with the new leadership. What do you feel is the biggest misconception about this Buccaneer team, and why do you think people should look at this season in anything other than a negative manner?
Luke McCown is a player that I feel deserves much more respect than he is getting. It will be interesting to see where his football career takes him from here. I really hope that I am wrong, but his future as a Buccaneer seems extremely dark.