TAMPA — The NFL Network invited three Buccaneers defensive players from the 2002 championship team — linebacker Derrick Brooks, tackle Anthony “Booger” McFarland and end Simeon Rice — to join Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp on the set of Thursday night’s pregame show broadcast live from the field at Raymond James Stadium.
The former teammates laughed, cajoled and told stories during their segment before host Rich Eisen asked for their opinions of the current Tampa Bay team.
Here’s what they had to say about the Bucs.
Brooks: “Right now, there’s a lot of confusion, and the worst thing that guys could start to do is question their leadership. That’s not going to get this thing turned around. If anything, they need to buy more into each other, buy more into what they’ve got to do and produce a win. They say sometimes winning is a cure-all, and hopefully that is the case. But this football team, right now, I think they need to come together more than anything.”
McFarland: “You have a team right now that really has no plan. They’re 0-6 and they’re trying to figure out how to get a win. They don’t believe in their head coach, I don’t think. The players are revolting, some would say. They just need a win to solve everything right now.”
Rice: “Accountability. When you really look at what you are, you have to look from within. I see guys that are not being accountable. You have guys that left that weren’t accountable. It’s about, ‘How can I be better?’ And then it affects the whole total thing. And we had guys that were front and center. We had a phrase, and I loved it: No excuses, no explanations. That’s it. That’s the way you live.”
Sapp: “Right now, this ballclub, I think they need to play to their strengths. Whenever I look at this defense, I see talent. I see talent that can be utilized in much better ways. And until they start utilizing the talent that they have on this team, we’re going to be looking at an 0-and-whatever team for quite awhile.”
On the set
Simeon Rice, who lives in Arizona, is shooting his first full-length feature film as a director in several Tampa locations.
“It’s called ‘Prey,’ ” and it’s a thriller,” Rice said. “It’s being shot right here in downtown Tampa, Eagle Lake and in Heritage Village. It’s my first long feature and it’s going to be a good one.”
Rice began his NFL career playing for some bad Arizona teams before joining the Bucs as a free agent in 2001. In 1999, the Cardinals went 6-10, although Rice posted 161⁄2 sacks.
“What keeps you going as a player when your team is losing is your name, who you are,” Rice said. “You should take great pride in your performance and that’s what needs to happen right here in Tampa.”
David’s sack ends team’s long drought
After failing to record a sack last week against the Falcons, the Bucs got to Panthers QB Cam Newton on the first possession of Thursday night’s game. Blitzing linebacker Lavonte David dropped Newton for a 12-yard loss on first-and-10 from the Tampa Bay 33-yard line. For David, it was his team-high fifth sack of the season. Newton was able to overcome the loss, picking up 10 yards on a pass to Steve Smith and converting third-and-12 with a 16-yard scramble. The 70-yard, 15-play drive culminated with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Newton to TE Greg Olsen as the Panthers took a 7-0 lead.
Missing Pro Bowlers
Of the eight Pro Bowlers on the Bucs roster this season, three were inactive for Thursday night’s game: RB Doug Martin (shoulder), S Dashon Goldson (knee) and G Carl Nicks (MRSA). Martin and Goldson were injured in Sunday’s loss to Atlanta.