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Former Bucs player: Playing for Schiano 'like being in Cuba'

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Greg Schiano apparently isn't very popular in Tampa Bay.
Greg Schiano apparently isn't very popular in Cuba Tampa Bay. (USATSI)

Thursday night football -- which features myself and Pete Prisco doing Pregame Live at 7:30 p.m. ET! -- puts the focus on a pair of teams. In this case it's the Buccaneers and Panthers and because of the way Tampa's season unfolded, Greg Schiano is going to get all the heat Thursday.

There's already a billboard requesting to "Fire Schiano!" out in Tampa and now we're seeing the first reports of nasty leakage (non-MSRA version) coming from Tampa. Mike Silver has a scathing breakdown of Schiano's shenanigans on NFL.com, including a quote from a 2012 Buccaneers player who describes playing in Tampa Bay as "like being in Cuba."

"How bad is it there? It's worse than you can imagine," the former Bucs player told Silver. "It's like being in Cuba."

Guessing that doesn't mean cheap, wonderful cigars. Silver also writes that "several current Bucs players" told him about a "similarly bleak environment" where "the all-powerful, unyielding Schiano spews tone-deaf platitudes" and acts about as charming as Nicholas Brody from Homeland.

This analogy actually works really well since the only guy having a worse season than Brody is Schiano. Lest you fret about on-record comments, a former Buc -- Michael Bennett, who left Tampa Bay for the Seahawks this past offseason -- told Silver that Schiano has "small [man's] syndrome."

"I think he just wants to flex his power," Bennett says. "He has small [man's] syndrome. I still talk to guys who are there, and trust me, there's not much respect for him in that locker room."

Not winning games is a pretty good way to lose the locker room. Kowtowing to another NFL head coach isn't exactly going to generate a ton of respect. And a current Bucs player described to Silver awkward public behavior between the Patriots and Bucs coaches when the two teams practiced during the summer of 2012.

"He gathered us before we practiced and told us that if Belichick said something to us on the field, we should listen," the player said. "He said, 'Treat their coaches like they're your coaches.' We were like, 'Huh?' When we practiced together, whatever Belichick wanted, he did. It was hilarious -- here (Schiano) is, acting like Mr. Tough Guy all the time, and when Belichick wanted something he was like, 'Yes, Bill.'"

Oof. NFL players are alpha dogs. They want their coaches to be alpha dogs. That's not alpha-dog behavior.

But none of that -- or any of the other stuff with MSRA and Josh Freeman -- matters one bit if Schiano's 6-0 right now. Unfortunately for the former Rutgers coach it's quite the opposite. And if Thursday goes poorly things are only going to get hotter.

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