A few days after quarterback Josh Freeman missed the team photo, Bucs players cast ballots for team captains that were tabulated by coach Greg Schiano.
The results, announced Sept. 5, left Freeman out as an offensive captain for the first time in four years.
But questions as to the legitimacy of the vote might have prompted a players-only meeting before Sunday's season opener against the Jets, profootballtalk.com reported Wednesday. Schiano insisted he did not alter the results of the vote, which left receiver Vincent Jackson and guard Davin Joseph as offensive captains.
"The players vote. The votes are tabulated by me," Schiano told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday.
And Freeman wasn't voted a captain by the players?
"That's what I said, yes," Schiano said. "I know there's a story out there. It's 100 percent false. If there was such a thing as 102 percent, this would be it."
Freeman, 25, last was not a captain in 2009, his rookie season. He became one at the start of 2010, his first as a starter.
During his radio show Tuesday, Freeman said he voted for Vincent and Joseph.
"The simple fact is Davin and Vincent are great leaders," Freeman said. "Everybody wants to make it out like it's a demotion. I don't look at it like that. They don't look at it like that. Essentially, the conversations, the day-to-day actions are the same.
"It's something that Davin, coming off his injury, and Vincent, the type of offseason and type of year he had last year … I couldn't think of two better guys."
Former Bucs quarterback Shaun King, an analyst for NBC Sports Network, said Schiano's methods are not going over well with some players.
"There's a lot of disarray in Tampa," King said. "Some of the players felt there was an unfair counting of the captains vote. Greg Schiano is a micromanager, and it's starting to wear thin with some of the players. I don't think those guys are currently buying into the my-way-or-the-highway."
Schiano, who in 2012 went 7-9 in his first season after being hired from Rutgers, inherited Freeman, the Bucs' first-round pick in 2009.
Several times during this past offseason, Schiano indicated he wasn't sold on Freeman.
A day after the season, Schiano said he wanted to bring in competition at every position, including quarterback. At the owners meeting in March, he said he wasn't "wedded" to Freeman or any quarterback. A few months later, he said he wouldn't be upset if Mike Glennon, the Bucs' third-round pick in April, won the starting job.
In addition, the Bucs did not offer a new contract to Freeman, who now is in the final season of his rookie deal.
Schiano said he did not know where the story about the captains vote being rigged originated. But it became enough of an issue in the locker room to prompt the meeting, according to profootballtalk.com.
"The players know who they voted for," Schiano said Wednesday.
Jackson was elected captain before last season, his first with the Bucs. Joseph missed last season with a torn patellar tendon..
Rick Stroud can be reached at [email protected]