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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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On the sideline
By STEPHEN F. HOLDER and JOANNE KORTH
Published July 31, 2005
"You get a chance to play a golf course 10 or 15, 20, 25, 30, 40 times, you have a tendency to know what club to hit the next time."
- Bucs coach Jon Gruden on Brian Griese being more experienced and comfortable in Tampa Bay's system.
HT./WT.: 6-3; 200.
BACK IN THE DAY: France has taken the back-door route, landing in Tampa via NFL Europe. Most recently, he played for the Hamburg Sea Devils and was All-NFL Europe. Also, France was twice named NFL Europe offensive player of the week during a season in which he made 24 of 34 field goals. France is in his fourth NFL training camp but is looking to make his first roster. At Toledo, France ended his career as the all-time leading scorer among Mid-American Conference kickers (320 points). His 152 conversions in 154 extra-point attempts established a school record.
TO MAKE THE TEAM: It's short and simple. France has to outkick his competition, Matt Bryant. Bryant made three of his four field-goal attempts with Miami and Indianapolis in 2004. The Bucs' kicking game was inconsistent last season, with Martin Gramatica released late in the season and Jay Taylor trying to clean up the mess in the final five games. As France said Saturday, whether he makes the team will have a lot to do with how he performs under pressure in preseason games. And look for the coaching staff to use its kickers in dire circumstances to get a sense of their ability to work under such conditions.
LITTLE-KNOWN FACT: France is an avid guitar player, and said he is getting better after just a couple years of playing. He owns an acoustic and an electric guitar, and brought the electric one to the Celebration Hotel. But don't worry. France isn't keeping his teammates up at night: He uses headphones, mindful of the team's early morning wakeup calls during two-a-days. Also, France is no dummy: He was a mechanical engineering major at Toledo.
QUOTE: "The pressure is the pressure you put on yourself. Usually when you feel it most is when you're struggling a little bit and you're constantly thinking, "Am I going to make this kick?' You're worried about the snap and the hold, everything else. When you're doing well, it's just like every other day."
OUT OF BOUNDS
The view is a little strange, but former NFL running back Richie Anderson thinks he could get used to standing on the sideline during games - as a coach.
Anderson is working with Bucs running backs as part of the NFL Minority Fellowship for aspiring coaches.
"It's been great," said Anderson, who retired last year after 12 seasons with the Jets and Cowboys. "It's my first time on this side of the field, but as a player I've always taken notice of the coaching side of things and figured when my career was done I might give it a shot. I'm enjoying it so far."
Also in camp are former tight end Eric Green and defensive tackle James Jones. Bucs running backs coach Art Valero was a three-time participant in the minority program.
Anderson, who will return to his home in Dallas after training camp and hope for an opening in the league, thinks it is helpful for young running backs to hear from former players. The trick so far is remembering he is retired.
"I want to go ask them for equipment," he said, "but I've got to remind myself that I'm finished."