The Washington Times-Herald

October 12, 2013

MRSA the latest in a season of drama for Buccaneers

BY Dennis Glade
Times Herald Columnist

---- — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are falling apart as a team, literally and figuratively. The Bucs are a team loaded with talent that have lost their first four games of the 2013 season — three of which were on the game’s final possession. Second-year coach Greg Schiano replaced 2009 first round pick Josh Freeman with rookie Mike Glennon as the team’s starting quarterback. That was only the beginning of the mess in Tampa.

Freeman was a well liked member of the team, who was humiliated by continuous leaked stories to the press that may or may not have come from Schiano himself. If you believe the reports, the locker room is near mutiny with Schiano’s my-way-or-the-highway coaching style, but this isn’t even the Bucs’ biggest problem this season.

Since the beginning of training camp, three different Tampa Bay players have been diagnosed with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a staph infection more commonly known as MRSA. Place kicker Lawrence Tynes and offensive lineman Carl Nicks were both diagnosed in training camp, and Nicks was diagnosed with a reoccurance of the infection. Friday afternoon came the news that a third player had been infected. General Manager Mark Dominik wouldn’t reveal the name of the player, but several media outlets were reporting it is rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks.

The Bucs have assured everyone that their facility at One Buc Place is a safe and healthy environment, but it is hard to take them seriously given they are facing a possible MRSA outbreak. Given that there were three cases independent of one another is extremely disconcerting. MRSA is an infection that can become lethal in some cases. There is obviously something medically wrong with Buccaneers facility to explain why these three players have been diagnosed.

This medical situation is just the latest drama to come out of the Tampa Bay this year surrounding the Buccaneers. Each week has brought new headlines since the beginning of training camp. This season must feel like a bad dream to the entire organization that they just can’t wake up from. The season has already claimed the job of Freeman, who was once thought of as the team’s franchise quarterback. Schiano and Dominik will be next, possibly before the end of the season.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported late Friday afternoon that the NFL was mulling whether or not to postpone the Eagles-Bucs game Sunday in Tampa due to safety concerns. Banks is even rumored to be ready to play despite his newly reported infection. One can only hope the organization is giving this situation the proper care. Unfortunately for Tampa the nightmare continues and they still have 12 games left on the 2013 slate, and while it would seem things couldn’t get any worse, it surely will get worse on the field as Glennon learns how to play in the NFL on the fly.

If the NFL does determine the Bucs-Eagles shouldn’t play Sunday afternoon then it is the right decision. It won’t be a popular move with the fans of both teams, but this is still a dangerous situation. MRSA can be passed through skin-to-skin contact. The debacle of a season for Tampa Bay isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The Bucs probably wish they could wake themselves up and start over.