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Friday, May 25, 2018
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Martin Fennelly Columns

Fennelly: Headhunting can't be part of Bucs' game

TAMPA — Out on the lonesome prairie that is 0-2, it's time for chief Buc-aroo Greg Schiano to gather his cowboys, maybe in a padded one, to explain how the new NFL works. He ought to learn himself.

Not that new Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety (or is it sheriff?) Dashon Goldson will listen. His lack of repentance has been towering. I'm not expecting repeat offender Goldson to change, even with a suspension on the way and his wallet about to be a quarter-million dollars lighter.

And it's a contagion that's spreading safety wide, evidenced by Ahmad Black's senseless facemask plow job on Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, or Black's even more senseless celebration.

These guys just don't get it.

As with Mark Barron's penalized hit against the Jets, Black's penalty came after Goldson had been penalized for helmet-to-helmet, for the second time in two weeks, his first two games as a Buc.

There's a difference between toughness and stupidity, between hard hitting and headhunting.

Schiano has talked about his players adjusting to the rules, “the strike zone,” as he said after Sunday's game. I'll believe it when I see he really believes it.

Right now, this nonsense is systemic.

It's time to rein in the goon squad — it's hurting this team, as if 0-2 isn't enough.

Hey, Dashon, why didn't you just try covering a receiver instead?

Has anyone noticed that another newcomer, Darrelle Revis, hasn't bothered to announce his presence with authority with an illegal hit? Revis has chosen to simply blanket his man, a lot, like he did when he was making all those Pro Bowls. Now that's what the Bucs need.

All these penalties, these personal fouls, point at a lack of discipline, and that's coaching.

Don't look now, but the Bucs are stuck with a time warp at safety. Goldson and Barron are a pair of thumpers.

Only that's not this NFL.

It will cost their team.

Goldson is doing exactly that when he sits.

We're a long way from the days of Night Train and Butkus.

The National Football League has 765 million reasons to rethink its future, one for each dollar that's part of the league's settlement with retired players who've suffered from concussion-related injuries. When guys are stipulating in their wills that their brains be sent to medical schools ... the NFL, it got off light.

Yes, there is a need to examine each of these hits. Bucs defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn's hit on Drew Brees last Sunday shouldn't have been a penalty. You can't punish clean hits. As it is, I'm not sure someone like the great, clean John Lynch could play in today's NFL.

Back then, you feared the Bucs defense, because they were that good, not that dirty.

The violence that Goldson is peddling, and younger teammates are apparently buying, can't be part of this game — or this team.

Plus, it's embarrassing.

Is anyone out there proud of what the Bucs are doing out there?

The Bucs don't need more headhunters.

They need their first win.

They should get that through their thick skulls.

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