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Friday, March 14, 2014
Smith's presence attracts free agents

By Pat Yasinskas

It quickly has become obvious that Lovie Smith is more than a football coach. He also is a strong recruiter.

Every one of the free agents the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed so far has said Smith's presence is a major reason why they've come. Each of them has said there's something special about Smith.

"I think because he cares," said quarterback Josh McCown, who also played for Smith in Chicago. "You spend five minutes with him and you feel like he cares about you as an individual and as a person. That matters to players. As long as I've played, if I've learned one thing it's that relationships matter and the relationships that you can build in the building matter.

"As much as we talk about this being a business, the guys that I've played with through the course of my career -- it's resounding how much, when an issue comes up, how much you can look at why an issue happened and go, man, it's because the relationship is fractured between the player and the coach and because the player doesn't feel cared for. I believe that more than anything, and appreciate that so much from Lovie is that I believe he cares and the guys believe that as well.”

That's a stark contrast from previous coach Greg Schiano, who was known as a disciplinarian. Players seldom talked about Schiano with any kind of warmth and last year's 4-12 season made it obvious that not everyone bought into Schiano's way.

Smith is a different story, who seems liked and respected by his players.