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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Bucs ignore troubled pasts
By RICK STROUD
Published March 20, 2005
TAMPA - Pro football fans love it when the players they root for provide inspiration.
Unfortunately, the Bucs have become a team of desperation.
How else do you explain the team's sudden fascination with quarterback Quincy Carter or cornerback Juran Bolden, who agreed to a one-year deal with the team Friday?
The Cowboys released Carter, their 2001 second-round pick out of Georgia, in August amid reports he failed a drug test. Carter was in the NFL substance-abuse program for his first positive test.
Three weeks after his release, Carter signed with the Jets. But a week before their playoff game against the Steelers, the Jets announced Carter had returned to Georgia to be with his ailing mother.
According to ESPN.com, however, Carter had a setback in his drug rehabilitation and was being treated for bipolar disorder.
The Web site reported Carter entered a treatment center in January 2003 near Boston and in the summer of 2004 was at the John Lucas Treatment Center in Houston.
Carter could be subject to a four-game suspension if he were to test positive again.
When announcing the Bucs were "intrigued" with the 6-foot-2, 217-pound Carter last week, coach Jon Gruden mentioned that former Jets offensive coordinator Paul Hackett and Bucs pro personnel assistant Doug Williams could help provide "an interesting environment" for the 27-year-old.
But Hackett, the Bucs' new quarterbacks coach, obviously wasn't able to prevent Carter from relapsing with the Jets.
Gruden's remark is similar to the one last year indicating troubled Raiders defensive tackle Darrell Russell would benefit from being reunited with defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, who tutored Russell at Southern California.
Russell never made it to training camp. He violated his treatment program by testing positive for alcohol and was suspended indefinitely for the second time by the NFL.
Bolden, 30, pleaded no contest in April in Fulton County, Ga., to charges stemming from an October 2003 felony arrests on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle and possession of marijuana. He was sentenced to three years' probation.
This is not to suggest some players don't deserve a second chance. This is the NFL, and they are not all choir boys.
But general manager Bruce Allen and Gruden have strong roots to the Raiders, where rap sheets do not take precedence over stat sheets.
The interesting thing is before this offseason, Gruden never had spoken highly of Carter, according to several former Tampa Bay players. But apparently, there's no price the Bucs aren't willing to pay for victory.
That is what is really intriguing.
GETTING FIT: Expect a little more traffic on West Shore Boulevard this week. The Bucs begin their strength and conditioning program Monday. The 14-week program is voluntary, but with the majority of players living in the bay area, participation is always among the highest in the NFL.
Organized practices are not permitted by the NFL with the exception of 14 team activities often used as full-squad workouts beginning next month.
Players can work one on one with position coaches and mostly concentrate on weight training, running and rehabilitating from injury.