When it came to choosing between elevating their national profile or doing what was best for their organization, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers remained consistent with how they've operated for the better part of the past two years.
They did the right thing.
Not the easy thing. Not necessarily the most beneficial thing. Just the right thing.
'Top 100 of 2011'
Two of the Buccaneers' young, rising stars made the cut for NFL Network's "Top 100 of 2011" list with Mike Williams ranked No. 83 and Josh Freeman checking in at No. 86.
In turning down a chance to have their training camp featured in the 2011 edition of "Hard Knocks" on HBO, the Buccaneers came face-to-face with the harsh reality they've rapidly become known as something besides a club on the rise. With 10 members of their organization having been arrested since January 10, 2010, the Bucs have the dubious distinction of being the NFL leader in bad behavior.
That doesn't automatically take away from the outstanding work that Mark Dominik and Raheem Morris have done to earn their well-deserved reputation as one of the smartest and most dynamic general manager-coach duos in the league. Nor does it mean the Buccaneers should be expected to fall short of improving on last year's 10-6 season because they've created too many distractions for their considerable talent and good coaching to overcome.
It just means that they should avoid adding to those distractions by inviting television cameras to follow them throughout camp, capturing those behind-the-scenes moments and candid comments that make "Hard Knocks" one of the all-time greatest football shows ever. The "Hard Knocks" approach is successful because, even after editing that includes the protective influences of the NFL and the featured team, you still often get the feeling that you're seeing something raw and uncut and not meant for public eyes and ears. And the rest of the country becomes better acquainted with your organization from top to bottom. Stars are easily made, especially on a club with as many fresh faces as the Buccaneers have.
But the Bucs correctly concluded that, because their story can't be told without addressing all of the off-field issues of the past year and a half, now is not the best time for them for that sort of national introduction.