Heading into the Packers/Bucs game last week, TB was notified that there would not be a roster exemption offered to the team in order for them to pick up another kicker if the devastated Matt Bryant decided not to play. (Bryant’s 3 month old son died unexpectedly last Wednesday). The Bucs would have had to cut someone in order to make room for a temporary replacement Kicker. Read here from the Orlando Sentinel for more. There is some sentiment around the league that this was unnecessarily harsh and I agree.
Fannation.com has the following from fellow kicker Shayne Graham:
Kicker Shayne Graham is not pleased with the way the NFL handled a situation with Tampa Bay kicker Matt Bryant, whose 3-month-old son, Matthew Tryson, died in his sleep last Wednesday. Bryant didn’t practice during the week and coach Jon Gruden left up to him the decision to play, the Associated Press said. One day after the baby’s funeral, Bryant returned to kick three field goals in a Buccaneers win over Green Bay. Graham doesn’t think Bryant had much choice in his quick return. “I just think it put him in a tough (place) where he wasn’t allowed to be selfish in that situation. And I think in that kind of situation you should be allowed to be selfish and make that decision based on just you, and how you feel and your family feels. But he had to think about his team, and think, ‘OK, well if I don’t play they’re going to have to cut somebody.’ I just think that’s a shame.” The NFL has made exemptions for suspended players or those who have been in trouble with the law, Graham said. He doesn’t think it’s right for a grieving parent to be denied the same opportunity.
I’m not sure if Graham had inside knowledge of what Bryant thought about all of this or if he was just commenting from an outsider’s perspective. Either way, a roster exemption should have been offered. Perhaps if it would make the NFL feel better they could stipulate that the extra player picked up has to play the same position as the player not playing – in this case, a kicker.