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Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Martin Fennelly Columns

Fennelly: Williams not worth headaches, headlines for Bucs

TAMPA — We don't have all the facts.

And apparently you can't get a straight story out of the victim.

But is there any doubt that Mike Williams could be convicted in a court of law of being a chucklehead?

The Bucs receiver is once again in the news for the wrong reasons, this time for being stabbed in the thigh, treated and released from a hospital. Monday, the cops were looking for his ... brother.

Williams' story, that it was an accident, apparently doesn't match with the accounts of witnesses who were at his Avila home on Sunday. Asked for sworn statements, they broke away from Williams' version of events. They say it was a fight gone wrong. A warrant was issued for Mike Williams' brother. Police were looking for him. Maybe Mike Williams is trying to protect him, noble, but unlawful.

The Bucs need to look for another receiver.

Bucs coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht, ensconced at the NFL meetings in Orlando, have made a lot of moves since taking over, moving people in, and, just as much to the point, moving people out: Darrelle Revis, most of the old offensive line, and so on. Most of the departures were about salary, pure money ball.

But this is about setting the right tone, and Williams' clown act is setting exactly the wrong one.

It's as if he's writing a how-to guide on how to get bounced off a team.

There weren't many free agent receivers out there worth signing and I'm not sure the Bucs are willing to draft receiver Sammy Watkins if he's there at No. 7. Maybe if he played linebacker on the side. I still think Lovie goes for defense, no matter what receiver — or quarterback — is available.

But Williams' misplaced priorities and propensity for messing up has to be addressed, either in this draft or with a zero-tolerance policy.

Actually, he passed zero tolerance a while back.

It's one thing to allow for the fact that most of Williams' mess-ups have been victimless, like his apparent lifestyle at his last rental residence, at the corner of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the criminal mischief, all of that stuff.

Williams' story, this time, seems to be that this was just horseplay that got out of hand.

If I had a nickel for every time I was stabbed in the thigh wile horsing around with a sibling, why ...

Williams has a track record of being a fool dating back to college at Syracuse. But he could catch footballs. And that mattered. Why, the Bucs, under old guard Greg Schiano and future ESPN star Mark Dominik, knew about Williams' proclivity for being bone-headed even as they gave him a $40 million contract before last season.

But is Williams really worth all these headaches and headlines?

Not in my book.

Go and find some insurance at receiver — now.

This guy can't keep his head on straight. Was it ever?

I'm not saying NFL teams are boys choirs. Who's fooling who? Williams has a big cap number. That's reality.

Lovie Smith put up with defensive tackle Tank Johnson's lawbreaking and gun toting, and home arsenal, and jail time, for quite a spell before finally waiving Johnson. Lovie had no choice by then.

Maybe Smith thinks he still has one here.

But Mike Williams isn't worth all this fuss, even allowing for averaging 64 catches, around 900 yards, plus seven TD catches across his first three NFL seasons, before his 2013 was done in by injury.

I can't say Williams' off-field behavior has affected his play.

I still think the Bucs can do better than this.

Lovie Smith needs to set a real tone.

At this point, can the Bucs really count on Mike Williams?

Can anyone?

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