To hear Josh Freeman tell it, there's one reason he'll be starting under center for the Vikings on Monday night rather than the Bucs on Sunday afternoon.
The Bucs didn't see their No. 1 draft pick in 2009 as their franchise quarterback.
"I know exactly what happened,'' Freeman said Friday on the Dan Patrick Show. "Obviously, I was coming from a place where they didn't see me as the guy. They didn't see me as the guy who could get it done, and I strongly disagree with that. But at the same time, it's not really my decision to make."
Freeman, the Bucs' starting quarterback since the eighth game of his rookie season, said coach Greg Schiano called him after Tampa Bay took North Carolina State's Mike Glennon in the third round of April's draft to assure Freeman the team just wanted to add depth.
But almost six months later, Freeman learned otherwise. The Bucs first benched, then released Freeman, opting to move ahead with Glennon. The Vikings signed Freeman on Oct. 6 and named him the starter 10 days later.
"You hear a lot of speculation and whispers and people saying different things, but the bottom line is it was a situation where the head coach wanted to bring in his guy," Freeman, 25, said. "It happens all the time in this league. (Schiano) couldn't get it done the first year, obviously, but then this year they drafted a guy in the third round, and it's kind of the way he wanted to handle things."
Freeman said he wishes nothing but the best for Glennon, calling him "tremendously talented.''
"It's part of the game,'' Freeman said. "It's how the game works. You've just got to understand it and the next time, regardless of the situation, figure out a way to take your game to a level (so) there's no way they can even think about not having you behind center.''
Asked if he believed he was the victim of a smear campaign after news leaked that he had voluntarily entered in the NFL's substance-abuse program — he enrolled, he says, after he mistakenly took Ritalin rather than his prescribed Adderall to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — Freeman said he was bothered by speculation he was having problems off the field.
"It did sort of seem personal, from a number of different angles,'' Freeman said. "But it's tough. It's a tough situation down there, and I can't fault anybody. The only frustrating thing is having to talk to people who've known me my whole life and that I loved, calling me and questioning me about things they've heard or that they're worried about. That was probably the toughest part.''