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Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith, quarterback Josh McCown talk about facing the New Orleans Saints

Transcripts of Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith and quarterback Josh McCown's conference calls with New Orleans media on Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Lovie Smith
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, December 24, 2014

How do you balance being competitors and having the number one draft pick at your fingertips?

"To me there is no balance involved.  If you are a competitor you go out there to win.  I can't think of anybody that goes into a game not wanting to win.  If we end up with the first pick we will be excited or whatever pick we end up in.  We are going to get a good pick and you should get a good pick when you are this far down the way we are.  We are just going to play our guys and try to win like the way we normally do."

It doesn't work that way in all sports.  Is it something about the nature of the sport of football or is it an unspoken agreement among franchises?

"I don't know what sports you are talking about.  We do a lot of ones versus ones and it is competitive as you would see it could get. There is nothing on the line.  We aren't going to get a prize or anything like that but I think when you have one team in one color and the other in another they will do anything they can to win each individual play.  I know a lot of people are talking about that but I don't quite get that part.  We will end up with a good pick."

Can you learn a lot about the character of your team once the playoffs are out the picture?

"No doubt you can.  Unfortunately we've had a few weeks to learn about our team.  We have been out of it for a while.  But yes, I think when things are going well it shields a lot of things but when you are going through adversity and tough times the way we are, true colors do come out and you do see what guys are really made of.  What we've seen from our team is they come to work every day trying to get better.  Again, there is disappointment in the season but as long as you can keep playing and keep improving we know in time we will have our day and we will eventually start winning.  This is just a part of laying that foundation."

What did you take away from this season?

"I know our team.  It is one thing that is pretty hard, there are a lot of things that you learn.  Going in for the first year I didn't know this team so I got a chance to.  Now this year as we go into our season I really do know going through practices, watching guys play, meetings and all that.  I really do know the makeup of our football team.  Start off with that and that is the most important thing as much as anything as we go forward."

 
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback Josh McCown
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What will it be like to play in a game where your brother is on the other team?

"It is always cool.  It is just a reminder of just what a privilege it is to play in the NFL, and to have a sibling in it also is just a reminder of how blessed we are.  That part is really cool."

What was it like growing up?  Were you guys pretty competitive?

"Oh yeah, absolutely, we played in the yard, any sport, football, basketball, baseball, whatever we played we competed at.  That was the fun of it as you compete, fight and make each other better and whenever everybody goes to their respective college or team we are each other's biggest fans.  That was our dynamic growing up. We had a lot of good moments and I think it brought out the best in each other."

Is it something that you are proud of that both of you have lasted 10 years in the NFL?

"Absolutely, I think you talk about the career average and then you take two people and two siblings that have lasted this long I think that is just rare.  You start talking about the odds of that happening and reducing it down and we understand that it doesn't happen very often.  We are very thankful to have had the careers that we've had and been around this long."

Do you have any crazy stories about those backyard basketball or football games? Any blood stories?

"No real blood stories.  I don't know about blood stories, but they always end up, we never knew the score of the game because it always ended up in a fight.  We'd play and then we would just fight after it because the loser would be so mad that he got beat that we would just fight.  Not a whole lot that I can recall other than that always happening.  I can remember one time I think I was playing Luke in basketball and I beat him and I was kind of rubbing it in and not being a good sport about it and my older brother got mad I think and he chased me around the front yard and threw me to the ground and when I went to the ground I inhaled a grass bur.  Back home we call them sticker burs, but a grass bur, and so I had to go to the hospital and have it removed.  It was kind of a crazy thing that started over I think I believe if my memory serves me correct, I believe it was after me beating Luke one-on-one and then rubbing it in.  That was one of the crazier ones but it typically always ended in a fight which my kids do now and my wife looks at me and I am just like this is what is supposed to happen."

So you had an internal bleeding story?

"Yeah exactly, there was probably a lot of internal bleeding going on.  There were definitely some bloody noses for sure and a black eye and things like that because like I said, whatever game or sport we were playing was just a precursor to the fight, that's all it was.  All the game let us do was let us know who was going to throw the first punch, that's what the game did."

Did you used to have the upper hand on Luke quite often?

"Oh yeah, absolutely.  I was in the middle so we had an older brother and so Luke was fighting uphill all the time which probably makes him who he is today.  I was in the middle so I would take a beating and try to give a beating.  There was always times where we were all mixing it up but Luke and I for the most part, I came out on top in the hoop games."

Have you and Luke talked this week?

"We will talk tomorrow for sure.  We exchange texts and things like that but we will definitely talk I am sure.  Nothing unusual for us, we talk once a week at least.  He always hops on and watches my tape and gives me feedback on what he sees and so I appreciate that."

I guess that is not going to happen this week.

"Yeah, exactly, not so much this week but he always, just as a good brother, says I think you're playing well, keep it up, this, that or the other. We both love football. We both love football so we like talking about it. Whether we are talking about the game I played or I'll ask him about what happened in their game and how'd Drew (Brees) do, all these things. We like to talk about the guys that we played against, the defenses that we saw, the offenses, what did the other quarterback do, how'd he look. That's the bulk of our conversations."

How has your team handled playing in these games since being eliminated from playoff contention?

"I think we've been awesome with the ways guys work at practice, and it's a reflection of our leadership, Lovie (Smith) and the coaches and the way that their approach is. We're getting after it. The guys are really coming out and working hard and that's what matters at this point. We found ourselves in a situation where we're not having the year that we wanted to have. When that happens you can either cash it in and wait on next year or you can try to continue to get better, especially when you're in the first year of a new head coach, and that is certainly what I have seen from our guys. It's hard, because you know at the end of the day, regardless of what you do on Sunday, you're not going to be rewarded. Once you're eliminated, if you go out and win every game the rest of the year and there is still no way you can make it back in. That makes it tough, but at the same time I think when you look back at the times like this in your life, you'll be glad that even when there was nothing to play for so to speak as far as playoffs, you'll be glad that you gave back some of that and you worked hard and you tried hard because I think that's a true testament of a guy's character is how they work and prepare right now. Everybody can do it when they're in the front, or they're a playoff team, but the guys that you want to build your program around are the guys that work hard, they love the game and they go out and play hard every chance they get. This is another opportunity for us this week and guys will be playing hard."

I know you have been with several different franchises, is that always the case?

"It can go either way. It is not always the case, and it can go either way certainly. And that's the thing, especially for us wanting to grab a hold of this right now, and the value that you get out of this in a first-year program with Coach Smith, the value that you get out of it is you find out really who's in and who's not. I think that's the biggest key, that guys understand to keep working, and the guys who are all in and want to continue to build this thing, I think you see that. You don't ever want to have this kind of season, no matter what year you're in in your program you don't want to have this kind of season, but if you do, especially early on, I think you can really, really find out the guys that love football. So far, it seems like our group as a whole has responded really well."

Can you play for the number one overall pick? I know you don't want to think about it, but it could help the franchise out greatly.

"Well at this point we are going to be picking pretty high. I don't know enough about what's going on in the draft or where we're at to be able to say that there is a guy that our franchise has to have. I think it's more important to our franchise that the 53 guys that are here now go out and play hard and go out and work their tails off to win this football game this weekend. I think that kind of resolve and that want to when there is nothing really there to play for, that can help just as much as the other. I know what you mean. It's hard, you can't get 53 guys to go out there and lose a football game because of the number one pick. The reality is every year, at the end of this year, this game this Sunday, guys not only involved in the Bucs-Saints game but this may be their last game they ever play in. I just think you want to go out and play as hard as you can and you want to win the last game you played in. If you can do that, and you take that mentality and maximize every day, you'll find yourself in a good position over the course of a season and career. That's our mindset, and not really into all of that draft stuff."

When you get to the last week of the season with no playoffs in your future, do you have to grind through it or is it something where a lot of guys are just enjoying their last week that they will get to be with their teammates for six more months?

"And then again, like I said, sometimes for a lifetime. Some of these guys, I know, I've been in a lot of locker rooms, there are guys that I've never seen again. They went their way, I went my way, whatever the case may be. You do kind of cherish that. That's what I mean, you've got to do that from Week 1, but yes there is a heightened sense of that in Week 17, no doubt about it, and you want to maximize that. With Christmas falling the way that it did this year, in the middle of it, it brings an extra sense of gratitude and thankfulness for each other. Yeah, I think guys are enjoying it. It can be a grind, I'd be lying if I said there aren't moments where it's a grind, because there are moments where you look at it and you know at the end of day whatever you do is not going to be good enough to allow you to keep playing, you're already out of it. So that part of it, when you think about it purely in that way, it becomes a grind because it's hard to compete when you can't get the fruits of it at the fullest. But when you take that out of it and you say, 'Hey, at the end of the day this still is my job too, this is my job and we're getting a paycheck to do our job' then you keep your perspective that way and you go out and you work hard. Like I said, the coaches have done a great job of it at fusing energy into it, guys are still having fun at practice and that's the main thing. It has not felt like a grind as a whole. There are moments, but I would say overall our guys are really upbeat and it's reflective of our coaching staff."

Does the rest of the McCown family root for the Saints or the Bucs this week? Or do you have to get split jerseys, half and half?

"Yeah, exactly, split jerseys. I guess they've already won one so I'm hoping they're cheering for us because they've already got us one time, so hopefully they'll be in our corner. Like I said, we're all so blessed to be in this situation to have that kind of dilemma that I think at the end of the day you don't really care how it goes, you just hope everyone comes out healthy."

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