Criticism leads to pink slip

Published March 29, 2006

TAMPA - Coach Tim Marcum wouldn't reveal the reasons, but it isn't hard to understand why the Storm on Tuesday parted ways with one of its top all-around players.

Two days after receiver/linebacker Bobby Sippio criticized the team's playcalling during a 61-51 loss to Georgia, the Storm placed its biggest offseason acquisition on waivers.

Lineman DeMarcus Johnson also was waived.

"It's a move I feel had to be made for the benefit of the football team," Marcum said on his radio show.

Marcum did not respond to messages left Tuesday afternoon but said earlier in the day he had spoken with several players, including Sippio, about "the way we act in terms of the team concept."

"I'm not worried about the comments (Sippio made to reporters after the Georgia game)," Marcum said. "I'm concerned about the whole team aspect. We've got some things that have got to change."

Sippio, signed to a two-year deal in October, was one of the Storm's most productive receivers the first half of the season, with 55 catches for 666 yards and 18 touchdowns.

But he was outspoken about his frustration with the playcalling after losses to Dallas and Georgia and walked off the line of scrimmage on a couple of occasions during the fourth quarter of a 64-35 loss to the Desperados, his former team, on March 12.

Marcum said he and quarterbacks Shane Stafford and Pat O'Hara share playcalling duties.

"No matter what's called, you've got to execute it," Marcum said. "I think we've got a pretty good selection of plays. We put up 315 yards. I'm not going to apologize for playcalling."

Sippio and Johnson will enter a 24-hour waiver process in which Kansas City, with the worst record, gets first shot at claiming them. If they aren't taken by 5 p.m. today, they become free agents. Any team that claims Sippio will have to pick up his base salary of $42,000, or $2,625 per game.

LIKE HIS OLD SELF: There was little Marcum didn't like about Steve White's first practice with the Storm. The 6-foot-2, 270-pound former Bucs defensive end showed the quickness, nonstop motor and leverage that served him so well during a seven-year NFL career.

"He looked like an old shoe," Marcum said. "He just needs a little polish."

White, who last played for the Jets in 2002, was signed on Monday to upgrade the Storm's pass rush.

A Bucs mainstay from 1996-2001, he had 153 tackles, 111/2 sacks and three forced fumbles in 94 games. His best season was 2001, when he had 44 tackles and five sacks while sharing playing time with starter Simeon Rice.

Tuesday, White, 32, showed an awareness of pass rush techniques and an eagerness to learn the Arena game, Marcum said. Still, with linemen Nyle Wiren and Buck Gurley eligible to come off injured reserve, White won't be activated for Saturday's game against Utah.

"He's a little ways from playing," Marcum said, "but I liked what I saw."

PLAYOFF PICTURE: If the season ended today, the Storm would miss the playoffs for the first time in its 16 seasons.

Tampa Bay is one of six National Conference teams at 5-4 but Philadelphia, Orlando, New York, Columbus and Georgia own tiebreaker advantages, putting the Storm eighth in the nine-team conference.

Then again, Tampa Bay is only one game behind second-place Austin (6-3) and two behind conference-leading Dallas (7-2) with seven remaining.

MOVE OVER, JAY: With 25 completions, Stafford moved to the top of the Storm's career list. He has 1,182, two more than Jay Gruden. Stafford trails Gruden in passing yards (15,623-13,715) and passing touchdowns (280-252).