The Tampa Bay Buccaneers find themselves at a crossroads. They’re struggling to compete this year and are looking at the free agency this offseason of their current starting quarterback, Jameis Winston. A team that doesn’t need any more distractions may have gotten one recently though. It came in the form of an accusation toward their general manager, Jason Licht. But what was he accused of?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2019 season thus far
Through eight games of the 2019 season, the Buccaneers are 2-6, good for third place in the NFC South Division. They’ve scored 230 points which put them at an impressive fourth overall in football. Unfortunately, they’ve also allowed 252, which ranks them at 31 out of 32 teams defensively.
Here’s how their season has gone down so far:
- Week one: 49ers 31, Bucs 17
- Week two: Bucs 20, Panthers 14
- Week three: Giants 32, Bucs 31
- Week four: Bucs 55, Rams 40
- Week five: Saints 31, Bucs 24
- Week six: Panthers 37, Bucs 26
- Week eight: Titans 27, Bucs 23
- Week nine: Seahawks 40, Bucs 34 (OT)
The career of Jason Licht
The Buccaneers named Licht general manager on January 21, 2014. Here’s a short bio from his profile on Buccaneers.com:
“Licht (pronounced LIGHT) owns two decades of scouting and player personnel experience with five organizations. In 21 NFL seasons, including one as a coach, the clubs that Licht has worked for have amassed a 181-155 (.539) record, nine playoff appearances, eight division championships, four conference championships and one Super Bowl title.”
In his second draft as GM, Licht selected the Florida State University quarterback Winston as the number one overall pick. Winston has been inconsistent in his pro career. At times he’s been brilliant. At other points, he’s been bad. He’s also shown poor decision-making off the field with a plethora of bad press generated by his actions.
Licht’s fate is tied to Winston’s, for better or worse. That may be why some thought he took an extra, and incredibly bizarre, step in order to defend the maligned quarterback.
The accusations against the Buccaneers GM and why he’s innocent
The story was started by The Dirty Sports Podcast, hosted by Joe Praino and Andy Ruther. It started when Praino took to Twitter to express his dismay at the play of Winston this season.
An anonymous Twitter user with the handle of “Author Jameis1of1” chimed in to defend Winston. The user even claimed to have written a 400-page e-book defending Winston, which Praino confirmed was true. The book is still available on Amazon. Praino invited the user to appear on his podcast, but he said he wanted to remain anonymous.
The clue that keyed Praino in that something was off? The fact that the user took a break from tweeting every week during Bucs games. Speculation began to grow about who the user could be. Was it Winston himself? Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, who had also defended Winston?
Praino did some digging. He found that Licht was following Ruther, his cohost. He also listened to an audio interview with the user and compared it to the voice of Licht. The voices matched. He also confirmed that emails and the phone number associated with the account could be traced back to Licht.
The result? It appeared that the GM of an NFL franchise not only defends one of his players on Twitter under a burner account. He also wrote an entire book on why the player was underrated. It’s a move that’s confounding, sad, and desperate all at once.
However, the Twitter user denied these allegations and even went on a few radio shows to clear the air. In the end, it was confirmed that the account does not belong to Jason Licht. This was definitely a case where people got a little ahead of themselves.
None of this changes the fact that the Buccaneers have big decisions this offseason. If they continue to struggle, they may move on from Winston. If they move on from Winston, odds are Licht won’t be far behind.