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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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Top pick avoids serious injury on late hit
By JOANNE KORTH, Times Staff Writer
Published August 31, 2007
TAMPA — Everyone in the Bucs organization, from the owner’s suite to the sideline, endured a tense moment Thursday when defensive end Gaines Adams, the team’s first-round draft pick, lay prone on the field midway through the first quarter.
It turned out, Adams was fine.
But that’s why starters don’t play much in the preseason, especially in the fourth and final game. There’s nothing worse than losing a marquee player to injury.
Adams, the No. 4 overall pick, was the victim of a late hit after an interception by rookie safety Sabby Piscitelli. Houston tackle Jordan Black drilled Adams in the back after the whistle and the Bucs’ $46-million defensive end hit the ground hard.
Adams merely had the wind knocked out of him.
Once his fear subsided, coach Jon Gruden got angry.
“That’ll be a fine, hopefully a big fine,” Gruden said. “If the NFL is going to fine guys $2,500 for socks, that should be a big fine. It’s a late hit. I don’t want to go any further. We talk about player safety. There’s a lot of people talking. I need some action on that.”
Adams made his way to the sideline and stayed there for the rest of the game.
SHOW OF SUPPORT: Gruden scoffed at second-year quarterback Bruce Gradkowski being mentioned in an ESPN.com article about a football and men’s basketball points-shaving investigation at Toledo, where Gradkowski played from 2003-05.
“I don’t watch ESPN,” Gruden said. “I don’t believe half of the (expletive) people on the channel. If Bruce Gradkowski is throwing games at Toledo, why in the hell does he lead the NCAA in passing percentages? That is a crock. You know, these reports make me sick.
“I don’t believe there is any truth to it, and I’ll go to my grave believing that. I hope that ESPN3 or 4 or whatever has some real sources behind this story. It has nothing to do with the kid.” Gradkowski declined comment.
NEW LOOK: The Bucs showed a new twist in the first half, operating a no-huddle offense. The possession resulted in an eight-play, 85-yard scoring drive. Quarterback Luke McCown was 5-for-6 for 76 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown to fullback B.J. Askew.
FAN FRIENDLY: The Glazer family invited about 30 fans to watch the final preseason game in their owners suite. Bryan Glazer walked the stadium before the game, selecting fans at random from the general seating sections. The fans enjoyed all the amenities, including a sushi bar, flat-panel televisions and cushioned seats on the 50-yard line.
Jan Ehlers, a legal secretary in Tampa, came to the game courtesy of her boss, who decided to stay home. She had just settled in , next to her husband Denny, when they were tapped to watch in the Glazers’ box.
“This is wonderful,” she said. “I mean, wow! I’m 60 years old and nothing ever happened like this to me before. What did she think her boss would say?
“He’ll probably fire me,” she said, laughing.
Times staff writer Dave Scheiber contributed to this report. Joanne Korth can be reached email@example.com or (727) 893-8810.