Gary Shelton, Times Sports Columnist

Gary Shelton

Gary Shelton joined the Tampa Bay Times in 1990 as the National Football League writer and became a sports columnist two years later. He writes a column several times a week, his subjects ranging from the familiar to the forgotten, from the Super Bowl to a vacant lot.

Gary began his journalism career writing about sports in Alabama and Georgia for the Columbus Enquirer in 1978. In 1984, he moved to the Miami Herald, where for six years he covered the Dolphins, the NFL and the University of Florida. His most admired athletes: Arthur Ashe, because of his grace; Michael Jordan, because of his competitiveness; Cal Ripken, because of his work ethic; Steffi Graf, because of her drive. Least admired athletes: the growing list of drug-using, spouse-abusing, money-driven, fan-unfriendly pedestal squatters who think they are on a scholarship from life itself. Some memorable moments as a sports writer: watching Bear Bryant walk off the field after winning a national championship. Watching Don Shula walk off for the last time. Watching the Bucs and the Lightning rise from the ooze to championship seasons. Watching John Cullen look at his daughter on a Father's Day he wondered if cancer would allow him to enjoy. To Shelton, this is sport. Not necessarily the games, but the emotions and memories they build. He would rather share those with readers than the nuances of the infield fly rule.


Twitter: @Gary_Shelton

  1. Loss to Ravens is like Bucs' bad old days



    Bring back Schiano.

    It was never like this for Greg Schiano, old Sgt. Hulka, was it? His team was never so lost, never so helpless. Even in the middle of MRSA, even after he threw away his starting quarterback, the Bucs were better than this. Even the last catastrophe felt better than the current one.

    And here the Bucs are, punching bags for the Ravens on their way to a 48-17 defeat Sunday that somehow sounds kinder than it looked. They are 1-5, and the only good news is they are going to draft very, very high, provided the earth does not swallow them whole before then....

    "I've performed at a 1-5 record,'' Love Smith said. "That's my record as a head football coach. It's cut and dry. It's black and white as far as what we've done, what I've done as a head football coach." [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  2. Bucs defense fails to protect 11-point lead



    The game was on their shoulders now.

    Who would suspect the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would collapse under the weight?

    They were built for moments like these. It was the fourth quarter, and they had a double-digit lead, and once again, the season seemed to have life. It was step-on-the-neck time. It was close-the-door time. It was turn-out-the-lights time.

    And the Bucs lost....

    Saints running back Pierre Thomas breaks a tackle by Bucs cornerback Leonard Johnson.
  3. In mediocre NFC South, Bucs still have chance


    There they were, on their way to the worst trouncing this franchise had ever seen. Considering the history of this franchise, that's saying something.

    They already had lost to a second-team quarterback.

    They already had lost to a third-team quarterback.

    The offense had no spark. The defense had no muscle. The free agents looked overpriced. The quarterback looked in over his head. Everyone was in gauze. Yeah, it looked as if the Tampa Bay Bucs were dead in the road....

    Mike Glennon runs off the field after a 27-24 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. [Getty Images]
  4. Mike Glennon once again looks like Bucs' QB of future



    The hero of the day is gangly and balding and painfully slow of foot. If you were picking a leading man for the highlights, it is fair to say he would probably not have been your first choice.

    On the other hand, the guy looks great with the winning scoreboard over his shoulder, doesn't he?

    Mike Glennon stole the show Sunday. He saved the day, and he saved his team, and he possibly saved this season. He came from the bench, and he came from yesterday's memories, and he pretty much came from oblivion as he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a theft of Sunday's game against Pittsburgh....

    Mike Glennon runs off the field after a 27-24 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. [Getty Images]
  5. Oh, what might have been for Bucs at quarterback


    Imagine Tom Terrific.

    Imagine Tampa Bay as titletown.

    Imagine Tom Brady, flashing that grin, leading all those comebacks on the way to all those Super Bowls. Imagine him as elegant in the pocket as ever. Imagine him in the winners circle.

    Now imagine him here.

    Even the thought of it is enough to ruin your day, isn't it? Even as the Bucs turn to another quarterback in another lost-already season, even as the four-wins-in-a-career Mike Glennon takes over for the 16-wins-in-a-career Josh McCown, the thoughts of the one who got away can eat at you....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon (8) during Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa on Wednesday, August 6, 2014.
  6. Will Jameis Winston finally grow up?


    Now that the punishment is over, which way was it again to the Heisman Trophy?

    Which way to the national championship?

    Which way to maturity?

    Jameis Winston has done his time, and order has been restored. Why, Winston sat out both halves of the Clemson game Saturday, which in college football amounts to hard time. Now, his world has been set right, and unless the coaching staff is informed that his suspension will increase once again, Winston can proceed with playing quarterback for the FSU Seminoles....

    Jameis Winston is as eaten up with entitlement as any college player has been in a very long time, Gary Shelton writes. [Getty Images]
  7. Alabama exposes Florida Gators weaknesses


    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — That program casts a giant shadow.

    This one is teeny-tiny.

    That program, Alabama, is trying to compete for its fourth national title in six years.

    This one, Florida, hopes to go to some bowl game or other. Yippee.

    That program has a coach it dares to compare with any who has ever walked the sideline.

    This one's seat is so hot it might burst into flames at any moment....

    Florida coach Will Muschamp watches his team struggle against the Tide, which amasses 645 total yards, the most allowed in the Gators’ history.
  8. It's Mike Glennon time again for Bucs



    It was just about this point in the program that another losing coach handed him another desperate situation.

    It was just about here that a season, lost already, was turned over to Mike Glennon.

    And here we are again.

    The Bucs are terrible, again. A season is disappearing in the distance, again. The team has turned into a punch line, again.

    It sounds like Glennon time, doesn't it?...

    Falcons DE Jonathan Babineaux, left, and tackle Corey Peters smother Bucs backup quarterback Mike Glennon.
  9. Rays' future as depressing as Rays' present

    The Heater


    And so the saddest summer of them all has come to this: In their own park, the Rays have been turned into extras.

    They sit on the fringes of the moment, out of the spotlight, applauding another team's star. Tuesday night, it was Yankees legend Derek Jeter who absorbed all of the night's energy, but in some ways, this is where the Rays have been for all of 2014, well out of the picture, far from the things that matter....

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 9: Manager Joe Maddon #70 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on from the dugout during the top of the seventh inning of a game against the Cleveland Indians on May 9, 2014 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) 477582995
  10. Pin Bucs' loss on timid coaching



    They lost, because they were not bold enough to go for the win.

    They lost, because they were not aggressive enough to avoid the pitfall of settling for less.

    They lost, because in the NFL, teams who play for field goals usually do.

    Sum this one up as simply as that. The Bucs lost to the Rams on Sunday because they lost their nerve. They lost because they would not reach out and grab victory with both hands. They lost because passive teams usually do....

    Bucs head coach Lovie Smith looks on towards the end of the fourth quarter. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  11. Bucs fans already have that sinking feeling


    TAMPA — It is awfully early to be this high on the tightrope.

    Also, the wind is blowing. And it is a long way down.

    Two games into the season, and already, the Tampa Bay Bucs look kind of, well, wobbly. The coach is new, and the uniforms are new, and a lot of players are new. But the empty feeling is familiar. The high wire is as slick as ever, and the rocks are jagged.

    Already, before the season slips away from them, the Bucs need to win....

    Bucs quarterback Josh McCown seeks to rebound from his two-interception game in the opener.
  12. Should Roger Goodell go? Yes. Will he? Probably not


    Justice is not supposed to care about how much money a man makes. Justice does not concern itself with how much star power his name carries. Nor is justice supposed to be about what he has done in the past. In professional sports, the rules are simple. If a guy messes up, he pays the price. If he is dumb enough, or confused enough, or wrong enough, he faces the consequences. Anything else is argument. That was true for Ray Rice. It's true for Roger Goodell, too. There has never been a sports commissioner under the kind of fire as Goodell, a man who remains commissioner today because of the simple fact he has made a lot of money for the NFL owners. He has not been strong enough. He has not been thorough enough. He has not been enough of a leader. And so Goodell must go. There are so many levels to how severely Goodell has mucked up the Ray Rice investigation, a judgment that, when you get right down to it, wasn't a particularly challenging one. Rice abused his then-fiance, so the league should throw Rice out. What's so complicated about that? Yet the NFL has turned that investigation into tap dancing and wrist-slapping, into video tape highlights and dodgeball. Goodell has failed the public, a violation of his prime directive. Along the way, he has lost all credibility. Even now, he cowers beneath his desk, waiting for the headlines to pass, hoping for the outrage to die. He gets a couple of these tests a year, and this time, he stepped into the muck. Will he survive? Probably. Should he survive? No, not if doing the right thing is the mandate....

    FILE - In t his Feb. 2, 2014, file photo, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell takes the field before the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos in East Rutherford, N.J.  A law enforcement official says he sent a video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee to an NFL employee three months ago, while league executives have insisted they didn't see the violent images until they were published this week. The person played The Associated Press a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number confirming the video arrived on April 9. A female voice expresses thanks for providing the video and says: "You're right. It's terrible." Goodell sent a memo on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014, to the 32 teams reiterating that the NFL never saw the video until Monday, Sept. 8.(AP Photo/Ben Margot, File) NY126
  13. NFL historically bungles domestic violence cases


    Once, another running back stood accused of abuse so serious it would make you cringe.

    Once, another wife told chilling tales of mistreatment, but in the end sided with her husband over the concept of legal justice.

    Once, another team … did nothing.

    And Michael Pittman ran on.

    If there is any solace to be had in the aftermath of the Ray Rice release, perhaps this is it. Finally, justice occurred. Finally, there was an attempt by somebody to get it right....

    Tampa Bay signed Michael Pittman in 2002 despite a history of domestic violence, including an endangerment plea with Bucs.
  14. Loss to Panthers exposes Bucs' numerous problems



    The ending was great. The movie was lousy.

    So, would you like to see it again?

    That's where we are with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the nice, misleading way they concluded their defeat against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. They almost won. Yippee. They came close to erasing their own ineptitude. Yay. They almost made you forget the way they sleepwalked for 3½ quarters. Yahoo....

    Bucs quarterback Josh McCown puts up a pass under pressure, leading to an interception by cornerback Antoine Cason during the first quarter that leads to a Panthers touchdown. “I’ll own this one,’’ McCown says of the loss.
  15. For Willie Taggart, USF Bulls' progress is real



    He lost his wide receiver before the day began.

    He lost his quarterback one snap into the game.

    He lost the answer sheet to his special teams for the entire afternoon.

    Still, Willie Taggart has not lost the faith. His USF team lost a football game, and it lost an opportunity at a statement game, and it lost for the 11th time in 14 games. It lost a chance to notch an upset on an afternoon it got six turnovers from the opposition....

    South Florida head coach Willie Taggart watches the game clock during the third quarter against Western Carolina at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, August 30, 2014. South Florida defeated Western Carolina 36 to 31.