Greg Spires did not take the news well.
A stroll through the Bucs' locker room last week revealed some clear tendencies regarding the condition of players' lockers. Those belonging to the defensive linemen seemed to be the messiest. Among them, Spires' was one of the worst.
"Really?" he said.
At the time, Spires was finishing his lunch of chicken salad on saltine crackers while sitting in front of someone else's locker. There wasn't room to sit at his.
Too much stuff.
"This is not all mine," said Spires, picking up a pair of really big cleats and putting them in tackle Ellis Wyms' locker. "All the shoes are supposed to be on the floor, underneath the lockers. What happened was, they cleaned the floor. They lift the shoes up to get the floor clean and they don't put the stuff back."
That explains the mound of clothes, the 10 or so pairs of cleats, the half-empty Gatorade bottle ...
"C'mon, this is the size of my high school locker," he said.
True, the lockers at One Buc Place are not very big, a few feet tall and barely 3 feet wide. Remember, the facility was opened in 1976 and hasn't changed much.
Lockers have a couple of shelves and one small cubby with a door for privacy. That's not a lot of work space for a 6-foot-1, 265-pound defensive end.
"Everything we have in here is essential to our everyday living," Wyms said.
Such as: shoulder pads, helmets, shoes, deodorant, baby powder, shoes, body lotion, cell phones, shoes, wristwatches, flip-flops, shorts and shoes.
Three-ring binders containing the playbook for this week's opponent. Shoes. Photos of children, Priority mail packages and shoes. Chewing gum, those Bath and Body Works scrubby things for the shower _ most of the defensive backs seem to have those _ and sweat-crusted gloves.
Don't forget shoes.
"I use a brand new pair of shoes every week," Spires said.
Every player had several pairs of cleats in his locker. Cleats for grass. Cleats for rain. Cleats for turf. Cleats for game day. Cleats for practice. New cleats. Old cleats. Different brands of cleats. Safety Jermaine Phillips had a special pair for days when his feet hurt.
Across the room, defensive end Simeon Rice's locker was a contender for messiest honors. The winner, hands down, was receiver Keenan McCardell, but he was disqualified for failure to maintain. No word on when he might show up, either.
Hey, Sim, what do you keep in your locker?
"Weapons of mass destruction. Get out of here," Rice said.
Sorry, didn't mean to pry.
Opposite Rice's locker was that of punter Josh Bidwell, resident neatnik. His clothes were neatly folded and stacked, shoes lined up, cell phone and sunglasses nestled into his upside down cap. The glasses were slipped safely into their Oakley bag _ who does that? Most notable among Bidwell's possessions were the socks, all tightly rolled and in a row.
"That's so I don't have socks wearing out too fast and don't wear the same ones every day," Bidwell said. "I don't know why little things bug me like that. It's probably a character flaw."
Which leads to the inevitable question: What can you tell about a man from the way he keeps his locker?
"That he is overprepared," said Spires, smiling. "That he is looking for that edge."
In the remaining minutes before he was due in a defensive line meeting, Spires pulled crumpled pieces of paper out of his locker and lined up some of the shoes.
"Now, I'm going to have to clean," he said.