LOS ANGELES — Dashon Goldson is aware of his reputation.
The Bucs’ hard-hitting safety, who racked up nearly half a million dollars in fines last season, sits in a leather recliner inside his recently renovated cigar lounge, reminiscing about the first year of his five-year, $41.25 million deal, he signed last March.
“It was a little strange,” Goldson said of last season. “Coming from San Francisco where we were on the rise and in the postseason a lot and then I came to Tampa where I had to deal with a lot of distractions. I was one of the key guys who people looked to for guidance and leadership with all the chaos we had with the coaches. It was a rocky start.”
While his play on the field was as fierce as ever, he was fined on multiple occasions for what the league deemed as illegal hits.
The first instance Goldson was fined $100K for a helmet-to-helmet hit on former Saints running back Darren Sproles. Then in November, he was suspended for a game (which cost Goldson $264,705) for a hit he put on Falcons wide receiver Roddy White. A month after that, Goldson received a $60K fine for a hit on Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey.
“At the end of the day, I’m a football player,” Goldson said with some hesitation. “I have a job to do and that’s get people on the ground. I don’t feel like I’ve been doing things incorrectly. I know the league has their way of seeing things, but it has to come to a point where the league has to compromise on these rules because there is a grey area.”
The seventh-year veteran makes no excuses for his aggressive nature. In fact, he cites his all-out effort as one of the reasons he was able to land a lucrative contract and make a name for himself in the league. He believes that the amount of money each player is fined shouldn’t be dictated by the amount that player makes.
“You can’t fine a guy X amount of dollars because he makes X amount of money, while another guy is doing the same thing and is getting fined less because he makes less money,” Goldson said. “That definitely happens. I was getting suspended and fined hundreds and thousands of dollars and there were other guys who were making illegal hits and they’d only get fined $30k or $50k. I get fined more because I make more money. That’s not fair.”
Goldson, of course, has his sights set on this upcoming season, too.
The new regime in Tampa Bay including veteran head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht have given the roster a facelift by trimming players with big-money contracts and acquiring talent via free agency. It’s clear that the Buccaneers, who made 15 transactions since the beginning of the new league year, have distanced themselves from the past.
“I was impressed to see the moves we made,” Goldson said. “We got some pretty good players and some seasoned vets. We had a lot of young players last year, but I think we needed more experience on that team. Just the way the league is going. I know they’re trying to go young with the players, but the time to win is now.”
Because the Bucs have a new coaching staff, they were able to begin their offseason training activities early. Goldson’s first impressions have been very good. He’s most excited about the structure of the organization.
“I like their philosophy,” Goldson said. “They’ve really been getting their point across on how the team is going to be portrayed. We all know about the distractions we had last year with the coaches. They have made it clear that they’re going to respect us as men, treat us like professionals and they will hold us accountable. He let that be known from Day 1. He said the defense will be the backbone of the team.”
Like other players during the offseason, Goldson is trying to cram in as much as he can before the season ramps up again. So far he has taken a vacation to the Dominican Republic, gotten engaged, spent time with his three-year old daughter Charly and has been focused on growing his businesses.
“I’m at a point where football is my number one, but I know it’s not going to last forever,” Goldson said. “I have been making moves off the field with this cigar lounge and real estate.”
Goldson hopes to grow his cigar lounge business (Smo King’s Fine Cigars) into a franchise. He’s eyeing the Hollywood area next and eventually could have a place in the Tampa area. The fascination stems from his second year in the league when he would visit different lounges in the San Francisco area. His other interests include giving back. Goldson opened the Highest Point Foundation in 2009, which provides for at-risk youth.
It’s easy to see why some would be taken aback by Goldson’s play. He’s a throwback, willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
“People ask me why I hit so hard and it’s because I just want to win,” Goldson said. “That’s just me and that’s what I’m here to do. I want to win football games and stop people from scoring.”