As first reported by SI's Jim Trotter, and fleshed out by the Tampa Tribune, the Bucs fined QB Josh Freeman three times in two days last week, for missing two meetings and conducting an "unauthorized interview." Since opening day, that's five fines for a total of $35,230 for Freeman.
On Thursday, Freeman sat down for an interview with ESPN's Josina Anderson. He said without outright saying what everyone already knew: he'd welcome a trade from the toxic situation. The Bucs slapped him with a fine for $10,410, the maximum allowed under the NFL's collective bargaining agreement.
This wasn't necessarily an arbitrary punishment for Freeman. Many teams have rules about players granting interviews. But the Bucs are unique in that it's the head coach who must authorize all media appearances. "Interviews go through Schiano," Fox Sports's Mike Garafalo says. One of Greg Schiano's first acts upon taking over in Tampa was taking control of that aspect. Previously the team's communications staff handled media requests, and that's how it is everywhere else in the NFL.
Why haven't we heard from Bucs players either standing up for, or smearing Freeman, even without their names attached? Pewter Report:
The iron-fisted Schiano has done a good job of locking down the players from openly talking to the media. His first rule when he stepped foot in One Buccaneer Place was to tell the players they could no longer call, talk to or text media members with their cell phones. He was telling grown men and professional athletes that they could only talk to the media with a member of the Bucs public relations staff present.
When the players are in the open locker room the public relations staff is in full force and has been directed to hover around and overhear nearly every conversation and interview, so very few off-the-record encounters between players and the media happen inside the locker room anymore.
On Friday, Freeman was fined twice more, again $10,410 apiece, for missing two team meetings. This reached a head earlier this week, when Jay Glazer reported that Freeman had been told to stay away from subsequent meetings. (Cryptically, Glazer also said the stay-away missive could have been designed to make other Bucs think Freeman was just blowing them off.) Glazer subsequently reported that Freeman was walking around the practice facility, assuring teammates that missing Tuesday's meeting wasn't his choice.
This relationship started deteriorating long ago. Freeman wasn't docked pay for supposedly oversleeping photo day, reports the Tribune, but was fined twice for missing a team meal and the team bus on the morning of Tampa's Week 1 game.