Lavonte David and the Bucs know all about controversy, especially prior to their Super Bowl win.
The Bucs drafted David out of Nebraska in 2012. Before 2020, the Bucs had amassed just one winning season and a 45-83 record from 2012-2019. Tampa Bay’s .352 winning percentage over that span is the third-lowest mark in the NFL. Only the Raiders, Jets, Browns, and Jags won fewer games.
The 10th-year linebacker is the most tenured player on the roster, so he’s been through the wringer more than anyone else. David has played under two different GMs, four different head coaches, and has seen countless amounts of teammates come and go at One Buc Place.
It can’t be easy; living that type of life in the NFL. But David weathered the storm and continued to make his place among the best linebackers in the game.
Up until Week 13, 2021 wasn’t much different. David and the Bucs were smack in the middle of controversy thanks to a 7-5 record and three losses in the last four games. There was plenty of speculation, questions, and just all-around negative vibes surrounding the team at that point.
But per the usual, David endured. And for once, the Bucs did, too.
Everything changed after the bye week. David and the Bucs would go on to win the Super Bowl. For him, he was owed a debt by the football gods for all his hard work and dedication. That debt was cleared once the confetti fell onto the grass in Raymond James Stadium.
“It was very special, man. It was very special. Just, from all that stuff that, you know, just kind of reflect on the past eight years,” David said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. “Not having a winning season. Not making it to the playoffs. Just dealing with all the controversy going around the Buccaneers organization with different things, or whatever. It was definitely fulfilling. For me, especially, man; being there that whole time and just finally reaping the benefits of my hard work.
It’s like I always say, ‘This is for the guys who put in their hard work and who have lived through those hard times in Tampa,’. I’m going to make sure they live through me.”
The journey is far from over, however. David and the Bucs are about to face a whole new kind of controversy: repeating as Super Bowl champs.
Something tells me he’ll welcome that with open arms.
You can watch Sports Illustrated’s interview with David in its entirety, here.