All everyone wants to talk to Chris Godwin about these days is his number. Which is understandable since the only other player in football whose brand is more synonymous with the No. 12 than the Buccaneers’ All-Pro wide out is the living legend that will be his quarterback next season.
Whether Godwin ends up relinquishing his number to Tom Brady for absolutely nothing—seriously, nothing—remains to be seen since Godwin and Brady haven’t had that delicate conversation yet. But if Godwin secedes his cherished digits to the only player in NFL history with six Super Bowl rings, know it’s going to hit hard.
“It’s been with me through damn near everything I’ve been through,” says Godwin. “It still holds a lot of significance to me.”
The man some call “12” or “CG12” has been rocking the number basically since he started playing football. He chose it because “it was the dopest number” and as he matriculated through the levels of football to become a standout at Penn State, a third-round pick of the Bucs in 2017, and the breakout star on the NFL’s No. 1 passing offense this past season it’s gained even more significance. But out of respect to Brady and his unprecedented accomplishments, Godwin’s ready to let it go—if he’s asked.
We caught up with the chill Godwin after he got in a workout late last week over the phone to talk about the excitement of Brady taking his talents to Tampa Bay, how he’s been staying in-shape while practicing social distancing, and whether the NFL Draft should go off as scheduled at the end of April.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
We’ll ask the question everyone’s asking you off the top: What’s it going to take for you to give Tom the No. 12 jersey?
I know everybody likes to say you gotta get something. But, for me, it’s more like a respect thing. I have a lot of respect for Tom and what he’s done in this league. Talking to him, briefly, he seems like he’s a really down to earth dude. I’m not the type to go looking for something. If he wants the number then I’ll defer that to him. Don’t get it twisted, if he don’t ask for it…
I know the No. 12 has been part of your brand all your football life. Have you been thinking about other numbers?
Preliminarily. Just in case. I just kind of look at whatever else is available. I’ve never really seen myself being like an 80 number guy at this level. If I do end up giving him the number it’ll probably end up being in the teens.
You’ve said your phone exploded when the news Tom was signing with Tampa dropped. We’re you getting hammered with congratulations or were people hitting you with a ton of different questions?
Honestly, it was a good mix of things. The majority of people hitting me up were asking what I was going to do with my number. I had heard from people who I hadn’t heard from in years out of nowhere like, “Bro, what’s good?” I’m like, fam, you need to chill. I haven’t talked to you in years. Outside of that, it was people saying congratulations and people excited to watch me play with Tom. I’m thrilled for the opportunity, too.
"I feel like Jameis gets a bad rap a lot of times and people think it may seem like the cool thing to hop on the bandwagon and kind of trash him. But I enjoyed having Jameis in the locker room and having him as a friend, knowing that he’s going to be the same dude every time I come in."
So what have the conversations been like so far with Tom since you can’t get in front of him?
I’ve only had a couple of conversations with him so far. The first one was just kind of him introducing himself and just saying he was excited to come down and get to work. Then the following one was more of that but taking it a little further like starting the relationship, trying to get to know each other a little bit, and why he’s excited to come down and play. I think he recognizes the type of talent on our team and the direction that we’re headed with our coaching staff.
And soon you’ll find out if Tom can still throw the deep ball like some are saying he can’t. So I’ll ask you: Can Tom still throw the deep ball?
I think so. I think a lot of that too is timing. If you have a guy like Mike [Evans] that beats a guy off the line of scrimmage and he’s running a go-route there’s no need to wait. You can hit him in stride. Same thing with me. Watching him over the last couple of years, I think he has a lot in the tank. I think that he’s hungry. You can tell based on the interviews he’s been doing. We have the weapons here to kind of take advantage of that.
In what key way did the No. 1 passing offense get better with Tom coming on board?
Obviously, his experience is second to none. I think that’s going to be the biggest thing where we see the difference. That experience transforms into leadership. I think the coaches are going to shift a little bit. Now it’s not like a situation where you’re hoping to win, it’s like you’re expecting to win. You’re expected to do things at a high level. We’re setting the bar high and rising to the expectations. I think that experience will lead itself to less turnovers, less miscommunication on the receivers’ and quarterback’s part so that we stop killing ourselves. That’s really where the problems were last year. We turned the ball over way too much. And it’s not all on one guy. It’s all of us being on the same page and doing the things the exact same way.
What are you going to miss most about not having Jameis Winston around?
Really just having him in the locker room. I feel like Jameis gets a bad rap a lot of times and people think it may seem like the cool thing to hop on the bandwagon and kind of trash him. But I enjoyed having Jameis in the locker room and having him as a friend, knowing that he’s going to be the same dude every time I come in. He’s funny, down to earth, for me I see him as a positive aspect of our locker room and that’s going to be missed.
How are you staying fit right now?
I’ve been lucky enough to know some people who have some smaller gyms that I can work out at because all the major gyms are shut down.
So you’re not doing in-home workouts?
Got a little bit more freedom. But it definitely isn’t much. You can’t have too many people in one building so if it’s packed you gotta take it back to your house. I just ordered a ton of workout equipment, got some cardio pieces like a rower and a Peleton bike, those type of things to keep my cardio up and just get it in whenever I can. Being out to be able to run, especially for me like on the field, continuing to build up that muscular endurance is going to be crucial.
Have you thought at all of the season potentially being pushed back?
I haven’t gotten that far. I feel like I could see a situation where the off-season programs are canceled in an effort to make sure the season starts on time. That’s the important thing. If that does happen…it’s so hard, man. It’s going to be such a challenging time for everybody. Hopefully we’re not in that situation, but if it does, we’ll have to figure it out when we get there.
The league isn’t going to push back the Draft, despite some people calling for that. What do you think: should the league still hold the Draft at the end of April?
I think they should still hold it; it’s just going to have to be different. It’s not going to be the spectacle it normally is. The important thing is allowing the teams to draft the players that are going to be the future of their franchises. There are a bunch of guys who have been working and training all their lives for this moment and there’s no reason you should push it back when you can do it remotely.
I understand the argument from GMs and scouts and player personnel that they can’t do physicals and interviews with potential draft picks. But as sports fans, we’re dying for something. And conceivably you can hold a draft remotely.
Instead of the reruns we’ve been getting. I also feel like, it’s March now. The Draft is going to be at the end of April. If you don’t have a good pulse on what you’re going to do a month from when the draft is supposed to be…you’re homework should mostly be done.
We’ll get you out on this one: What have you been bumping during this social distancing/quarantine downtime?
Right now I’ve been listening to Don Toliver’s album a bunch. I like the Jay Electronica album with JAY-Z. I thought that was pretty dope. It took him a while [laughs]. Lil Baby and PartyNextDoor just dropped. And a dude that I just found—Drake just released a couple of weeks ago “When To Say When & Chicago Freestyle” and the dude that sings on that is Giveon. He’s pretty good. Like an R&B singer, he’s got a lot of soul to him, and he just dropped an album, too, so I’m gassed up about that.