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Saturday, August 7, 2010
NFC South Saturday morning mailbag

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Daryl in Springfield, N.J., writes: Thanks for the recent blurb about the Bucs not being cheap. From what I remember, a lot of people called Tampa cheap when they let Antonio Bryant walk instead of giving him a long term contract. Bryant has yet to take part in the Bengals training camp due to lingering injury issues. The Terrell Owens signing seems like further proof that Cincinnati doesn't trust Bryant to be a starter. What looked like cheap in the offseason appears to be a brilliant move now.

Pat Yasinskas: Well, if people called the Buccaneers cheap for not re-signing Bryant, then they had no idea what they were talking about. The decision not to re-sign Bryant had nothing to do with money. Bryant made that decision for the Bucs with his actions last season and the decision was made long before the season was even close to being over. Bryant was a receiver who the Bucs rescued off the scrap heap and he responded with a big season in 2008. After that, Bryant began making a lot of noise about wanting a huge, long-term contract. The Bucs wanted a little more evidence that Bryant really had turned his life and career around before making a long-term commitment. That’s why they made him a restricted free agent last year, which basically guaranteed Bryant $10 million for one season. Bryant kept griping about that, didn’t really produce on the field, blamed his sore knee on the plane trip home from London, took repeated shots at rookie quarterback Josh Freeman and questioned the coaching staff. That’s the textbook version of how to play your way out of any town. I wrote multiple times late last season that Bryant was on his way out. The first time I wrote that, a pretty important figure with the Bucs called me up and said, “That’s a pretty good read on the AB situation." Again, that one wasn’t about money and the Bucs are looking pretty good right now for letting Bryant walk.


Chad in Las Vegas writes: Peter Finney is going to be honored at the Hall of Fame ceremonies. Can you give the people that aren't familiar with his work with the New Orleans Saints some background on him? I grew up in N.O. and enjoyed his articles and commentary with The Times Picayune.

Pat Yasinskas: I am thrilled that you asked because I don’t want Peter to be overshadowed by the players inducted into the Hall of Fame Saturday. Peter is the legendary sports columnist for The New Orleans Times Picayune. He will receive the Dick McCann Award for long-time excellence in writing about football. I’ve known Peter since I’ve been covering the league, but have gotten to be around him even more since I’ve been doing the NFC South Blog. He’s one of the true gentlemen in our business and a man who doesn’t have to ask for respect because he’s earned so much of it. I think of Peter a lot like I think of Tom McEwen, the legendary former sports editor of The Tampa Tribune and the man who first hired me in this business. I had the honor of sitting next to McEwen at hundreds of games. I didn’t get to work that closely with Peter, but my buddy Jeff Duncan has. So let’s turn it over to Dunk to go a little deeper on the Finney story. One other thing on Finney -- he's the guy that made the presentation to the voters that helped get Rickey Jackson elected to the Hall of Fame.


Jeff in Charleston, S.C., writes: I was dumbfounded when I read (on another media outlet) that one of the biggest defensive-line stories in Falcons training camp is Jamaal Anderson. He supposedly has impressed from the DE position since camp started and continues to improve. Is this legit or just coaches being hopeful?

Pat Yasinskas: I’ll be able to tell you more Monday when I get up to Atlanta’s camp and see Anderson in person and have a chance to talk to the coaches. However, my gut reaction on this is it’s the old hope-springs-eternal story. There are guys everywhere ever year that we all write about how this might be the year things are really going to turn around. Think Dwayne Jarrett and Michael Clayton. Hey, I think I’ve even written about high hopes for Anderson at some point in the past couple of preseasons. You never know. But the bottom line is that Anderson, so far, has been a flop as a defensive end. He’s been adequate when he has moved inside to defensive tackle.


Adam in Columbia, S.C., writes: The feeling so many fans and media have that Panthers will not be good because of their "youth movement" just doesn't make sense to me. Take for example the Chargers. They have a younger roster than the Panthers and are once again considered to be an elite team in the NFL. Why does youth in the Panthers camp spell doom, but it is ignored on the side of the Chargers? Smells like a double standard to me.

Pat Yasinskas: Valid point and I think the Panthers will have a winning record. However, to answer your question, I think the perception on the Panthers is that they have a lot of question marks and a lot of people really don’t know anything about Matt Moore. That isn’t the case with San Diego’s Philip Rivers.