Posted by Andy Benoit
Enjoy Raheem Morris while he’s young because, chances are, he won’t be this candid about his players once he’s been a head coach a few years. Check out what Morris had to say about 31-year-old defensive end Stylez White (courtesy of Anwar Phillips of the Tampa Tribune):
"Stylez is my Allen Iverson, and he's not going to change," Morris said. "He's gotten better. He's gotten better the last couple of days and practiced (better) throughout training camp than he has in the past, but he is Allen Iverson."
Morris gave White that label last season because of his practice habits.
White, 31, has been known to pace himself during practices, to the frustration of his coaches. While they have worked hard to push his buttons, White does not always leave everything out on the practice field.
In fact, ESPN reporter Pat Yasinkas recently labeled White the "Biggest Disappointment" of Tampa Bay's training camp because of his practice habits and his lack of leadership skills.
"It's never acceptable, and he's gotten better, but like I tell him every day, we're going to tolerate him until we can replace him," Morris said.
White has heard Morris' criticisms for more than a year and he has tried to brush them off. Morris has jokingly threatened to send him back to Best Buy or the Arena Football League, both are employers on White's resume.
Although Morris is sometimes joking, White admits he has been bothered at times by his coach's criticism, and he thinks it is unwarranted.
"It's completely overblown. Completely overblown," White said. "I do pretty good at practice. I'm just trying to get back in game shape."
Wow. How often does a coach a.) say this to a player, b.) tell the media he said it to a player and c.) have that player, who is nearly as old as the coach, not utterly rebel?
White, whose first name used to be Greg, is a solid but unspectacular end. He had 6.5 sacks last season and 13 sacks over the two years before that.
White was a seventh-round pick out of Minnesota in 2002. He bounced around the NFL but never caught on anywhere. Eventually, he wound up as a member of the Arena League’s Orlando Predators. When he left the Arena League in ’07, Predators head coach, Jay Gruden recommended White to his brother Jon. White joined the Bucs in 2007 and replaced Simeon Rice.
Most guys with the Arena League/Best Buy employee type background attract labels like “blue collar” and “hardworking”. How many of them change their name to Stylez and draw practice habit comparisons to A.I.?
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