- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
After the hitting the practice began to taper off as the offense and defense split and worked at other routines. The linebackers were holding a recognition drill, and Bobby Ross was having trouble with Rodrigo Barnes.
"C'mon, Roy!" he yelled at the linebacker. "Have a little pride. For gosh sakes!"
Barnes just looked at him. Ross had the most specialized problem on the ball club. He was Barnes' coach. Peterson did not want to have any dealings with the big black because he, as head coach, could not allow himself to be pushed into a corner by Barnes. If he did he would have no alternative but to discipline him, and Barnes would not accept discipline, let alone punishment. Yet Peterson and the ball club could not afford to lose him. Barnes knew this, of course, so he constantly pushed. Ross had not been told outright, but it had been made clear to him that he must handle Barnes, keep him playing, and keep him away from Peterson.
It was all very frustrating for Ross, who was a crew-cut, fiercely dedicated young man whose whole life had been football. He did not understand Barnes, could not understand Barnes. And it was a source of the deepest personal humiliation that he had been put in such a position.
He and Barnes had reached an agreement. Ross was not to yell at Barnes on the field or to push him too hard. In return Barnes would not challenge Ross' authority—on the field. But Barnes had the habit of taking the day off about every other practice. He'd show up, all right, but he'd just go through the motions. This was so frustrating to Ross, who'd never known anything but go, go, hit, hit, that sometimes he was not able to contain himself.
Barnes got over near him, after he had hollered, and said softly, "That's one, Coach."
Ross turned away, but his face suddenly got very red.
Throughout the whole season Barnes was never to be confronted and faced down. There were incidents but, in the end, the coaches let Barnes slip out of situations that would have meant dismissal for another player. For one of the games, everyone was supposed to be aboard the bus to go to the airport at 10 a.m. sharp. Peterson had roared, "That bus leaves at 10! Anybody that's not aboard gets left." At 10 that morning, with everyone else in place, Barnes was spotted about three blocks up the street. Instead of hurrying he was giving it the "pro trot"—a slow, casual way of moving—as if unconcerned how long he might make the bus wait. Everyone looked to Peterson to see what he would do. Watching Barnes, Peterson cleared his throat nervously and said, "I've got five minutes till. He better hurry." Of course, by that time it was well after 10. Barnes finally got to the bus and came aboard with an amused look on his face. Looked at solely from the view of winning, Peterson's misreading of the time was the correct thing to do. Barnes helped win the game for Rice.
Tobin Rote was getting down on Bruce Gadd, the quarterback. He didn't think Gadd had his mind on the game. During one practice Rote warned him three times about trying to pass over a linebacker; after each warning Gadd would do it again and get the ball intercepted. It was too much for the old quarterback's discipline to bear. Rote came charging up, pounding his fist in his palm. "How many times I got to tell you—you can't throw short over a linebacker! It can't be done! You can't get enough arc!"
Gadd said, "But, Coach, I'm trying to hit my primary receiver."