Man, I miss Planet Simeon
Who needs a total eclipse of the sun when Simeon Rice, former Bucs sack king and cosmic force, is in town?
Rice was at One Buccaneer Place the other day to watch practice and tutor Bucs pass rushers, including defensive ends Noah Spence and Ryan Russell. They learned from one of the great rushers in NFL history, 122 career sacks, including 69.5 in his six seasons with the Bucs.
The return of Planet Sim brought back memories of a time and a place we might never again see in Tampa Bay sports, when the Buccaneers owned the football world, rulers who entertained deeds and words.
The 2002 Super Bowl champion Bucs would have been a heck of a Hard Knocks. Sim. Sapp. Key. Brooks. Lynch. Barber. Grudn. And on and on.
"You put me and Sapp on? C'mon," Rice said. "Without a doubt, there would have been must-see TV. On the field and off. This was Hollywood South. This was where it was at when we were playing."
Planet Sim, 43, is a movie director these days. His last film was the feature-length Unsullied, which Sim once described as "a thriller/action/suspense film with the backdrop of a drama."
Man, I miss Sim.
As for these days ...
"I've got a documentary and I've got another film coming out. It's a good one. It's a thriller. I can't talk about it too much. I love it. It's a labor of love."
So was sacking the quarterback.
You want great film? That was Rice as a ferocious edge presence with the Bucs, which produced five seasons of double-digit sacks and the blockbuster that was the 2002 Super Bowl champions.
In 2005, Rice had 14 sacks for the Bucs.
Man, the Bucs miss Sim.
We all know by now: The Bucs haven't had a 10-sack season from a player since Rice in 2005.
According to Times football writer and UNIVAC Greg Auman, there have been 192 10-sack seasons since 2005, with 93 players having at least one 10-sack season. DeMarcus Ware has had eight of them. Jared Allen had seven of them. No NFL team has gone longer than the Bucs without a 10-sack season.
It's no coincidence that the Bucs have been to the playoffs only once since 2005.
Rice sees some of himself in Noah Spence, who had 5.5 sacks in 2016 as a Bucs rookie. Spence is undersized for a defensive end at 6-2, 251 pounds. Rice was supersized at 6-5, 268. No matter.
"I think Noah could be something special," Rice said. "I truly do. I think he could. He has to believe in himself. He has to believe in his abilities. But I think he has the capabilities of doing something different, doing something unique. I see him working after practice, much like I did when I was here. I can't help but harken my thoughts back to my nostalgic moments of greatness."
Man, I miss Sim.
"You have to have a supreme confidence," Rice said. "There's a certain swagger that's going to rub people wrong. There's a certain swag, there's a certain cockiness, there's a certain enthusiasm that you're going to have about you own abilities."
Planet Sim thought of his former coach, Jon Gruden, who is going in the Bucs Ring of Honor this season.
"Me and Jon got along. Toward the end it got a little rough, when I got injured and all that. But one thing Jon knew was that I could play under scrutiny. I could play under pressure.
"There was a time when I tried to come on time all of the time. Now, this man is the same man who suspended me a year prior for missing a meeting. So, I was always on time."
Gruden would have none of that.
"He told me, ‘Sim, you're a maverick. We don't need that out of you.' You know how Jon talks. ‘We need you to be a maverick, you're a cowboy, you do things your own way.' I'm like, last year you suspended me. His message really was: Simeon, you're a pressure player. You can handle the pressure. I need you to be who you are. I don't need you to be this cookie-cutter good guy."
So, Rice went back to being late.
"Yeah, of course." Rice said with a grin.
Someone asked what the documentary he is working on is about.
Simeon Rice, intergalactic wonder, smiled large.
"It's about me. It's about my playing career."
Man, I miss Sim.