What the Bucs had to say about going on strike
By Wednesday, there may be two different football teams on two different practice fields calling themselves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At One Buccaneer Place, the Tampa Bay coaching staff will be working with a squad of free agents brought in to play games during the players strike.
At another site yet to be announced, the striking Buc regulars will be working out - more or less under the direction of captains Steve DeBerg, Jeff Davis and Chris Washington. ``I finally get to be a player-coach,`` said DeBerg, who will actually be just a coach for a while because he's on crutches with a knee injury. ``I hope it's a short coaching career.``
The Bucs held a team meeting with their wives and girlfriends Monday night at a site that was not disclosed to the media. Union representative George Yarno said the team would watch the Jets-Patriots game, choose a practice site and discuss the other issues to establish some priorities. ``We're going to get down to the nuts and bolts,`` Yarno said. ``The team is going to have their say on where we stand as one-28th of the union. The players are going to make all the decisions. I will voice their opinions. That's the way the union is supposed to work, and that's the way it will work here.``
Members of that team left One Buccaneer Place on Monday afternoon after cleaning out their lockers, with their football shoes and other possessions in bags thrown over their shoulders. ``I'm going to be really bummed out,`` center Randy Grimes had said earlier while sitting in front of his locker. ``Starting tomorrow, someone else will be sitting right here. It's going to bum me out to take down my pictures (of his family) and stuff.``
Before they left, Yarno said, head coach Ray Perkins told them ``to stay in the best possible shape we can`` in the event of a strike. ``He didn't say anything negative to us - or positive. He's been very good about this whole situation.`` Perkins was a union official during his playing career.
Rookie inside linebacker Don Graham said he will go on strike, but he understands the players who will cross the picket line to take his place. ``If I would have gotten cut this year, I would have done the same thing,`` Graham said. ``I can't blame them. It's a business, and the money's not bad.``
Rookie nose tackle Dan Sileo, who joined the team in a supplemental draft last week and is currently exempt from the active roster, said there is a temptation for a rookie who is just starting his career to break ranks with the union and play - but he won't do it. ``This is totally foreign to me right now,`` Sileo said. ``All I'm doing is just what the veterans have advised me to do. I'm not going to rock the boat right now and do something that's (in conflict with) what everybody else is doing.``
A strike may produce the third delay to Sileo's football career this month. He planned to play for the University of Miami this year, but the NCAA ruled 17 days ago that his eligibility had expired. He signed with the Bucs two days later as a free agent, but the NFL voided that contract and put him in a supplemental draft. Then he rejoined the Bucs after being drafted in the third round.
Union president Marvin Powell, who plays offensive tackle for the Bucs, said that management is testing the players by waiting until after the strike date to bargain in earnest. ``They just have it in their minds that the NFL player is not a very smart fellow,`` said Powell, who left later Monday for union headquarters in Washington, D.C. ``That he can easily be swayed because of his greed. They're trying to test us. They're trying to find out how strong we are. They're going to see an NFL players' monolith.``
Defensive end Ron Holmes took mild exception to the argument that the strike will destroy the momentum of a rebuilding Buccaneer team. The Bucs are 1-1 after a 20-3 loss Sunday in Chicago. ``I don't understand how you can say we're a team with momentum,`` Holmes said. ``Did you watch Sunday's game? We got our butts kicked.``
John Luttermoser The St.Petersburg Times September 1987