TAMPA, Fla. — Josh Freeman respects former quarterback Fran Tarkenton. But Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback made clear that approval of teammates and coaches is the only thing that matters to him.
Freeman responded to Tarkenton’s negative comments on WDAE 620 AM Tuesday in which the Hall of Famer said Freeman is “God-awful” and “has proven to me he can’t play.”
Freeman was conservative in his response to Tarkenton, saying the criticism doesn’t bother him. He said he had not heard Tarkenton’s comments until they were referenced when speaking to reporters at One Buc Place.
“Obviously, he’s Fran Tarkenton,” Freeman said. “His career speaks for itself. He’s a Hall of Famer. At the same time, everybody is entitled to their own opinion. The important thing is the people in this building – coaches, teammates. They’ve got faith, and they know who I am as a player.”
Tarkenton’s words were the latest criticism directed toward Freeman in the offseason. He is entering a contract year and has a hot-and-cold reputation among many around the league.
However, teammates have spoken about Freeman’s improved leadership and greater command in the huddle, and both coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik have said Freeman is their answer at quarterback, despite the drafting of Mike Glennon in the third round (No. 73 overall) last April.
“It’s funny,” Freeman said. “I really don’t pay much attention to anything outside. Obviously, there are some huge things going on in the world that I need to be aware of. But for the most part, I’ve got my friends, my family. That’s really the focal point. I focus on me. I focus on the things that I can control and really don’t pay much mind to anything else.
“In high school, my dad said, ‘Hey, you can’t let anybody pollute your thought process, pollute your mind, telling you you’re great, telling you you’re awful. Either way. You know you are. You’ve got to go after that,'” Freeman continued. “In college, same thing, where the media kind of amps up. It’s funny, half the time I don’t know anything is going on until my family calls me, ‘Hey, don’t listen to them.’ I have no idea what’s going on. You really just have to focus on the things you can control. With that said, don’t waver for anything or anybody. You know who you are. You know who your team is. Go out and do it.”
Freeman, the No. 17 overall pick in 2009, threw for 4,065 yards with 27 touchdowns last year – both franchise highs. He also had 17 interceptions, including nine in the last three games.