Cautionary tale for Buccaneers fans

When I went through the mailbag earlier, there were a lot of questions from Tampa Bay fans about rookie safety Cody Grimm. I answered one of them in the mailbag I did on the Buccaneers, but I had another thought on this matter that I wanted to share with you.

Let’s make it very clear: I’m not saying Grimm is going to become a great player and end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame like his father, Russ. I’m not even saying Grimm is going to be a decent player or a reliable starter for the Buccaneers.

All I’m saying is don’t judge the kid on one game. He’s a seventh-round draft pick who got thrown into the lineup much sooner than the Bucs wanted. Of course there are going to be some struggles, but the Bucs must have seen some upside in Grimm during training camp and the preseason if they were willing to throw him in there, and all indications are he still will be starting coming out of the bye. There may be more bumps in the road, but let’s see how Grimm does over time.

The main reason I say this is because I’m reminded of a story from when I covered the Bucs back in my newspaper days. In 1997, the Bucs drafted a cornerback. He struggled so much that first season that he was only on the game-day active list for one game.

The following year, he started playing the cornerback a little. I’m not sure if it was his first start or the first time he got significant playing time, but he ended up getting beat for three or four touchdowns and a whole bunch of other passes.

That cornerback’s name was Ronde Barber. I remember being in the locker room after the game and having a Tampa Bay assistant coach pull me aside and say, “Have you ever seen anything more embarrassing than Ronde?’’

The Bucs stuck with Barber and, all these years later, he’s a Tampa Bay icon. Some people even talk about him as a potential Hall of Famer. If the Bucs had given up on Barber after that one disastrous game, they would have missed out on all the great things that came later.

Grimm’s first game wasn’t nearly as bad as the Barber game I just described. I’m not saying Grimm’s going to have a career anything like Barber has had. But I think you at least need to give him a little more time to figure out if he can play.