After spending his first four pro seasons with the Buccaneers, playing next to Gerald McCoy, making 30 starts and had 5.5 sacks; Akeem Spence wasn’t signed back on after his rookie contract, and he is still pretty bitter about it. In a recent interview, he seemed energized to come back and face down his former team.
“This is like a Christmas gift for me,” He said. “Going back home, nice 70-degree weather, going against my former team. I’ve been practicing against that offense for what, three, years now, so I kind of know the ins and outs of it. So hey, let’s get it on.” Also adding, “They’re going to have to deal with this whole D-line, especially me, because this one I’ve had circled for a long time, so it’s just exciting to go back home, obviously, playing against your former team. I kind of, I can’t really say what I want to say, but just know it’s going to be kind of personal. This one’s real personal.”
Granted, football is a business, the players know that. But Spence wanted to stay in Tampa and thought he played well enough to earn a second contract, and while he still considers his former teammates good friends, he didn’t hold back his feelings towards the decision to let him go.
“I’m very bitter. But bitter with a smile on my face,” He said. “It’s bitter with a smile, this is a good bitter. This is not like…don’t get me wrong, I love those guys, especially the guys on defense, those are my guys. But it’s just something where you’ve been somewhere four years and you help build it up and then you got to go disappear elsewhere, I took that kind of personal cause I felt like I was one of the good guys around that building.”
Spence also touched on the shaky season the Buccaneers are having this season, saying, “It’s like you say, you still got to go out and play the games on Sundays, it looks great on paper. I think they had the biggest off-season overhaul, one of the best off-seasons, but you still got to play the game on Sundays. You can sign all the guys you want to sign, but if it doesn’t work out on Sundays then back to the drawing board.” And, when asked about why he thinks the teams season went downhill, he responded with, “Coaches have different philosophies on how they approach it, from a personal aspect, I think coaches try to come and do too much down there. Most coaches try to come down there and use the heat as an advantage. A lot of players see it as a disadvantage cause we’re always in the heat, we’re always practicing, by the time the season rolls around, you got many guys on IR and guys getting IVs. It’s tough and I don’t think they had the right coach come in and just do the right thing for them to be successful. Obviously Dirk was successful last year, but it’s just they haven’t found the right formula. That’s all I got to really say.”
Spence also said that he is looking forward to finally getting a chance to hit Winston, which was off limits in practice, when he was a Buc. And he may even eat a “W” in front of Winston, if he gets a sack, stating, “I seen Flacco do that last week. Man, I wanted to go up there and jump up on that TV screen, eat a “W” versus us. You don’t do that. I do that.”
Before Spence spoke to reporters, his former coach, Koetter, praised Akeem in in a press conference, saying that he has played good football this year, adding; “He’s a guy that we hated to lose, but the way the rules are set up he had a chance to exercise his options as a free agent and he’s doing a nice job, he plays with really good leverage, excellent quickness and he’s got that low center of gravity, so he’s a powerful player. If you’re not ready, you’ll get knocked backwards.”
Sounds like we are in for an entertaining game this Sunday, I am interested to see how this all plays out.