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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Buccaneers WR Michael Clayton addresses post-game comments



WR Michael Clayton has been subjected to a barrage of criticism for post-game comments he made to me in Philadelphia on Sunday.

I asked him bluntly about his dropped balls in the Bucs' 33-14 loss and then followed up by asking him if he was prepared for the predictable reaction of fans who seem to see Clayton as the poster boy for everything that's wrong with the Bucs, especially in light of his 5-year, $26 million contract.

I believe Clayton was criticized somewhat unfairly for the comment. Many of the same radio hosts and message board posters who were up in arms over what he said never actually read what he said and focused on one single portion without any context. So, in the interest of fairness, here's the quote again.

"I ain't worried about that. People who say stuff, they're not out there on the field. Nobody who writes (expletive) or says (expletive) can say anything about a player because they're not on the field. It's real serious out there. That's why I don't pay any attention to that stuff because the mentality is that you make up for it and you come back and catch the next one. I mean, regardless of what they say, the check is in the bank. That's not changing. It's about this team right now. Nothing can break that or make me feel bad or worry because somebody's talking about me in the paper. We just have to keep our heads."

This afternoon on J.P. Peterson's radio show on 1010 AM, Clayton responded to the outcry.

"After the game, emotions are running wild," he said. "To be 0-5 in the National Football League, especially in a situaton where you're not anticipating for the season to go like this, it kind of (leaves you) in awe.

"After the game, the media is there to give you an outlet to your fans. I can only hope that the people who know these players and know myself can understand what we go through. Sometimes,  when people read this stuff, (understand) I would never in a million years, down talk my teammates or put myself in a situation where I'm viewed negatively. But I think because of our situation, I feel that's what's happening now."

He added, "You're going to have situations like this where people are going to talk about you badly. That's the media. That's what people want to hear. That's what sells papers. Obviously, as a professional, I have to do a better job of controlling my emotions."

Regarding the portion of his quote that referred to the check being in the bank, Clayton said, "It was simply to say that there's nothing I can do but get better. The deal is done. I'm here in Tampa. That's over with. Now, the main focus is the team."

Here's my two cents: Clayton seemed to insinuate on a couple of occasions that the quote was taken out of context. I can assure you it was not. I'll assume he's referring to the aforementioned media on radio and elsewhere.

It's not my job to defend Clayton's performance on Sunday, and I won't try to. But I do feel some responsibility to clear the air here. It's my opinion that Clayton's explanation is the truth, that he was trying to get across the fact that the deal is indeed done. I asked him about the criticism that has been based largely on the size of his contract. He responded. There's nothing wrong with that in my opinion.

But given who he is -- a lightning rod where fans are concerned -- perhaps it's not surprising that this mushroomed the way it did.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:45pm]


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