The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday. The Bucs have not been any good at all for the better part of 15 years and have not been this relevant since Warren Sapp was dominating along the defensive line, so it's fun for them and a strong contrast to the perennial contender Packers.
The Bucs have been especially bad this past decade, at one point losing enough games to earn the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Plenty of talented players on this year's roster toiled away on subpar teams for years before finding success this season. When asked how it felt, Mike Evans said the Bucs have been losing for a long time (true) and didn't take the easy road to get here.
Yeahhhh ... I don't know about all that. Evans certainly did not take the easy road. He has put in the work since he entered the league in 2014 and become one of the league's premier receivers. He has surpassed 1,000 yards in each season as a professional, which is remarkable. I don't mean to take anything away from the All-Pro wideout.
But the definition of "taking the easy road" for NFL teams would be to sign Tom freaking Brady. It is the biggest shortcut in football history. He is arguably the greatest player ever. Any team that signed Tom Brady was going to be a playoff contender regardless of the supporting cast. It literally does not get any easier than adding a future Hall of Fame quarterback and a future Hall of Fame tight end (Rob Gronkowski) in the same offseason. Then adding five-time All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown midseason.
The easy road was not taken from 2014-2019. The easy road was absolutely taken for 2020. I doubt anyone in Tampa has any regrets about that.