By ROGER MILLS, RICK STROUD
Published April 9, 2004
TAMPA - He faces sentencing April 23 after pleading guilty to a felony charge stemming from a domestic violence incident involving his wife Melissa. He also faces certain suspension from the NFL, expected to be for a number of games, considering he already was punished by the league for a similar incident.
Still, Bucs running back Michael Pittman is holding his head high.
Talking to reporters Thursday, Pittman said he knows what is coming, is prepared to deal with it and is comforted by the support he said he has from Melissa and many others at One Buc Place.
"I know something is going to happen, I'm going to get punished in some kind of way and I'm expecting that," said Pittman, who was suspended for the first game of the 2001 season after the earlier domestic incident. "But I got a lot of people behind me, my teammates, coaches, my general manager, everybody is behind me and that's all that matters. I hope everything works out for the best."
Pittman's immediate future will be up to the Arizona courts and the NFL, but the 28-year-old veteran, who played a critical role in the Bucs' Super Bowl win, said it's pointless to be pessimistic or to think about jail time and other penalties.
"I don't try to worry about the worst, if it happens it happens," he said. "If that's what I have to do, that's what I have to do. I'll get in and get out as fast as I can and maybe my future will be in jeopardy with the team or not. I'm going to go in there with my head up high, speak the truth."
Pittman said one reason for optimism is the recent meeting he had with NFL lawyers in New York. He said the meeting helped the league get a sense of who he is and what kind of relationship he has with his wife.
"It was great," Pittman said. "I went there, we talked, got things out in the open. We had a great conversation. He (NFL general counsel Adolpho Birch) learned where my wife and I are coming from ... heard the story, the real story of what happened and not what was put out on the street, in the paper. And that was it.
"He said he was glad that we got to have that talk and got to meet us because maybe he was going to stereotype me as a (certain type of) person. But as he met me, his own view about me changed."
Pittman, who has been involved in at least three reported incidents of domestic violence, said his relationship with his wife is "very strong."
"Sometimes, people perpetrate me to be this kind of villain," Pittman said. "But I know what kind of person I am."
WILLIAMS WORKS OUT: Southern Cal receiver Mike Williams is a crowd pleaser, even if a small gathering of NFL coaches and executives are the only ones in attendance.
The former Tampa Plant star held his workout at the University of South Florida and didn't disappoint.
Running outdoors on a fast, rubber track, Williams ran his 40-yard sprints in times of 4.56 with the wind and 4.62 against the wind, according to information released on NFL.com.
The private workout was attended by Bucs general manager Bruce Allen and representatives from nearly every team with a top-10 pick, including Cardinals coach Denny Green and Bears GM Jerry Angelo.
The 6-foot-5 Williams weighed in at a lithe 228 pounds and recorded a 37-inch vertical jump and 4.34 in the short shuttle run.
The big day for Williams will be April 19, when a federal appeals court will hear the NFL's argument to overturn a ruling by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin that paved the way for underclassmen to enter the league's draft.
Because Williams and Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett hired agents, they would be ineligible to return to college football under NCAA rules.
In a draft heavy with receiving talent, Williams' workout should solidify him as a top-15 pick. The Bucs, who own the 15th overall pick, have to hope he slips past the Falcons at No. 8 and the Jaguars at No. 9.
BACK FOR MOORE: Tight end Dave Moore, back for his second stint with the Bucs, never expected to play 13 NFL seasons.
"Heck no. They gave me a 50-50 chance to even make a roster day one," Moore said. "But I've been fortunate enough to do a lot of different things - H-back, tight end, longsnapper and special teams. I found a way to keep myself around."
But things have changed since Moore's last appearance in Tampa Bay after two seasons in Buffalo.
"I think when Coach (Tony) Dungy got here, there's like four players left in that whole class and (Jeff) Gooch is one of the returnees," Moore said. "It's really a whole new experience. Other than the visual aspect of the facility, the coaches are different, the players are different, the offense is different. My (uniform) number (80) is different. It's throwing me off watching film. I wore the other one (83) for like 17 years straight. I'm having trouble picking myself up on the field right now."