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Holdouts should be a last resort in the world of negotiation

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Tackle Demar Dotson has a new agent, if not a new contract.

The Tampa Bay Bucs are willing to strike a deal with linebacker Lavonte David.

The Lightning is in the middle of a new deal with star Steven Stamkos.

All of which brings up the question: Is it really a good idea for a player to hold out any more.

Through the years, there have been players who have withheld service until the team comes up with more years, or more salary, or more bonus. Something.

The easy answer is that it should be a last resort for a player. For a holdout to work, the team needs to be going somewhere in its season.

Remember Errict Rhett’s ill-fated holdout with the Bucs in 1996? It wasn’t that Rhett wasn’t a good player. He was. It wasn’t that he hadn’t performed. He had. He just had no leverage. The Bucs weren’t going to be especially good with him, and they weren’t going to be especially good without him.

On the other hand, Derrick Brooks withheld services from the Bucs in 2001. He was a two-time All-Pro selection at the time playing on a great team, so he had the attention of his fans. The team had promised him a renegotiation, and it was dragging its feet. So he staged a 10-day holdout during camp.

The holdout of offensive tackle Paul Gruber in 1993 was a particularly hostile one. It got to the point where the Bucs actually traded Gruber to the Raiders. But the Raiders couldn’t agree to a contract with him, either, so he was returned to Tampa Bay. He is in the Ring of Honor now.

In the old days, before the salary scale, it was common for players to hold out. Broderick Thomas did. Trent Dilfer did. And, of course, Bo Jackson is still holding out.

Which brings us to the present.

Dotson, if you remember, staged a two-week holdout during training camp. But Dotson hasn’t made Pro Bowls, and the Bucs haven’t made the playoffs for years. Frankly, he doesn’t seem to have a lot of leverage. Perhaps the sides can reach an agreement without another one. The threat of fines bothered Dotson in the spring, and that hasn’t changed.

David is a little more complicated. He’s one of the faces of this team, an acknowledged excellent player at linebacker. No one would advise a holdout, but one has more of a chance of working than it would with Dotson.

The there is Stamkos. His driven personality doesn’t fit the profile of a holdout. He simply likes playing a lot. And with general manager Steve Yzerman vowing that getting Stamkos signed was the primary goal of the team this off-season, let’s hope it wouldn’t come down to a holdout.

Do holdouts work? With a big enough athlete. With a good enough team. With the right circumstance.

But rarely.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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