Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs rookie Means fulfills pledge

TAMPA — Steven Means Sr. was watching his favorite team, the Raiders, on television in the living room of his Buffalo home when his 5-year-old son, Steven Jr., joined him.

Means had just started playing youth football, and in between peppering his father with questions, he made a pledge.

"He looked at me and said, 'Daddy, one day I'm going to play in the NFL,' " the elder Means recalled. "I looked over at him with a big smile, with my eyes welled up, and said, 'I'll do whatever I can to help you get there. That's your dream.' "

Means' dream became a reality two weeks ago when the Bucs selected the University of Buffalo defensive end in the fifth round of the draft.

Considering he didn't know if he would even get picked — having not even been invited to the NFL scouting combine — Means said he was "speechless" when he got the call while playing catch with his dad.

"A beautiful feeling," Means Sr. said.

Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn said the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder was even more motivated after believing he was overlooked.

"I've always had that tough road to go through. I've always had to sneak through the back door," Means, 23, said. "I had to get a connection from my grandfather to get into a public high school. Getting into college was the same way with the SAT scores and not a lot of offers. With this situation, I had to show it at pro day. I had to show it the last half of the season."

Quinn said the key to getting drafted was Means "really delivered" at Buffalo's pro day in March. The Bucs were one of more than 20 teams represented in Orchard Park, N.Y., and they also conducted a private workout with him.

"He might be a little bit off your radar, but he wasn't off ours," Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said. "Any time you can draft a pass rusher, you don't want to pass him up. We think he's got tremendous traits."

Means showed that at Grover Cleveland High, where his grandfather, Sonny, pulled some strings so he could attend the school closer to his home. Means was known for his work ethic, pushed by his father, who played defensive tackle for Buffalo State, and younger brothers Brandon, 21, and Cameron, 14.

Means did wind sprints at home after practice — while wearing a parachute.

"It was funny. Some of the time I would tease him. I'd say, 'Man, I saw you guys out there sucking wind,' " Means Sr. said. "And he'd have this look on his face, run upstairs and change and get his parachute and take off running up and down the street until I went out and stopped him."

And while Means' SAT scores stopped some of the bigger schools from pursuing him, his hometown University of Buffalo stayed on him. The Bulls were rewarded as Means racked up 18½ career sacks, fourth most in school history.

"I just don't like being touched," Means said. "And that's probably why I'm a decent pass rusher."

Means also starred on special teams with five blocked kicks. And Bucs coach Greg Schiano said he could be a contributor in that role.

"He's got tremendous potential," Quinn said.

Means matured both physically and as a leader during his career, helping spark the Bulls' turnaround during his senior season. After they lost their fourth game in a row, 45-3 at Northern Illinois, Quinn said they were "fighting for our lives" and, potentially, their jobs.

On the bus ride home, Means texted Quinn: "Coach, I have your back."

Led by Means, the Bulls won three of their next five games.

"That really defined, in my opinion, his maturity level, his respect," Quinn said. "I'm proud of him."

Joe Smith can be reached at

Bucs rookie Means fulfills pledge 05/10/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 10, 2013 8:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Former Buc Mike Glennon says right things about Bears QB situation


    Mike Glennon's go-to line about being recognized around town since becoming a Bear worked as well as ever, producing laughs.

    Quarterback Mike Glennon, shown last season with the Bucs before signing in the offseason with the Bears, is showing good humor about a looming competition in Chicago. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  2. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021


    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  3. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb made mistakes on back-to-back pitches to the first two Angels hitters Tuesday, allowing homers to Cameron Maybin and Mike Trout, but otherwise gave the Rays another solid outing, working into the eighth and scattering seven hits.

  5. Rays journal: Brad Miller won't return from DL when eligible

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — 2B Brad Miller (left abdominal strain) will not return from the 10-day disabled list Friday as he hoped. While he took ground balls Tuesday, he has yet to resume running.

    Rays second baseman Brad Miller, left, with infielder Tim Beckham, says he’s letting his left abdominal strain “cool down” before testing it by running.