There is no bigger voice on a football team than the quarterback's, and the Bucs' Josh Freeman is stepping up and using his to address the Bucs' recent off-the-field incidents.
Particularly troubling, Freeman said, is the fact the team's three recent arrests could reflect negatively on coach Raheem Morris, who Freeman said is doing a superb job.
"We need to take care of business off the field," Freeman said. "It doesn't speak well on the type of coach Raheem is. Raheem is a great coach. Everybody has the utmost respect for Raheem and the talk's really just been, 'We've got to stop screwing this guy over by getting in trouble off the field."
Asked whether he thought the tendency to link the coach to the arrests was fair, Freeman was quick to disagree. Instead, he placed the blame on individual players -- Jerramy Stevens, Mike Williams and Geno Hayes.
"Not at all," he said. "I don't think it says anything about the type of coach Raheem is. I think some people could look at it that way, but honestly, the circumstances which the stuff has occurred, it's all on the player. His job is to coach us and put us in position to win football games. And he's done that. When we get done with football, you can't expect him to go by everybody's house at a certain hour. It's the NFL. We have to take a high level of responsibility on ourselves. As team captains, as leaders, we've been stressing that a lot lately."
The Bucs' most recent arrest came early Monday when Hayes, the starting weak-side linebacker, was charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing after police allege he behaved unruly and disobeyed orders outside a Tampa nightclub. It was the third arrest of a Buccaneer in the past two months.