Some people are fans of the Tampa Bay Bucs. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Tampa Bay Bucs. This 2014 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group.
Your team: Tampa Bay Bucs
Your 2013 record: 4-12. Sometimes a won/loss record is woefully inadequate when it comes to conveying just how shitty your season was. This is true of Cleveland pretty much every year, and it was double super extra true of the Bucs last season. They rigged captain votes. They leaked drug test results to the media. Their players mutinied, which is fitting for a pirate-themed football team. They cut their franchise quarterback in the middle of the season. Coaches yelled at players for daring to exhibit basic human decency. The staph infection that swept through the Bucs locker room ended the careers of both guard Carl Nicks ($25 million in guaranteed money) and kicker Lawrence Tynes (Scottish). They also went up 21-0 on the Seahawks in Seattle and still managed to blow the game. That is decade's worth of dysfunction crammed into just 17 weeks. The Raiders are in AWE of you, Greg Schiano. Of all the Schiano Men out there, you were the most Schiano.
Your coach: Lovie Smith, and as was the case with Andy Reid's hiring over a year ago, it's a telling sign when you can hire a notoriously bad game manager and everyone agrees that it's a MASSIVE upgrade over the previous administration. Smith is organized, professional, and beloved by players, and NONE OF THAT will matter when he ends up burning both challenges within the first three minutes of every game the Bucs play this season. I'm fairly certain he runs drills for the quarterback to call timeout if he's within eight seconds of committing a delay of game penalty.
Lovie returns to Tampa after spending five years there as an assistant in the late 90s, helping to perfect the Tampa 2 defense, which is the most annoying defense in the history of football. It is a boring defense that invites offenses to go up and down the field seven yards at a time, and it will crush your will to live no matter which side you are cheering for. Regardless of what the offense is doing, you can be sure that Lovie will make absolutely NO adjustment to his defense whatsoever. Hey Coach, they're lining up trips right! TAMPA 2. Hey Coach, they're gonna pound the ball up the middle! TAMPA 2. Hey Coach, they've imported space cyborgs to literally fly the ball up the field! TAMPA 2. The Tampa 2 sucks.
But hey, at least there's this…
That is pretty cool. Also, did you know that Joe Cullen is on this coaching staff? Finally, Joe Cullen gets to fulfill his destiny as Florida Man. Every Tampa-area Wendy's is ready and waiting for you, Coach.
Your quarterback: Josh McCown! No wait, Mike Glennon! No wait, Josh McCown! No wait, Mike Glennon! No wait, Josh McCown! No wait, Mike Glennon! Anyway, get used to that being Lovie's thought process for the next four months. "I finally got another head coaching gig! I know the first thing I'll do: give myself a fucking headache."
You might remember McCown—now declared the Bucs starter—from his insanely prolific stint as Jay Cutler's substitute last season. This was largely thanks to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffry, who is able to catch incoming meteorites with his bare hands. Up until last season, McCown was a faceless journeyman who had thrown 37 career TDS and 44 career picks. And then he suddenly morphs into a world beater overnight? JOSH MCCOWN IS ON DRUGS. I would to formally begin that rumor here and now. Also, that career sample size dictates that McCown will revert to sucking this season and that the Bucs damaged Mike Glennon's confidence (which Glennon needs because he is unattractive) all for nothing. So yay.
What's new that sucks: New uniforms! WAKE UP TO BUCS FOOTBALL EVERYONE!
The flag on the helmet was obviously enlarged for the sake of Tampa's many, many elderly residents, who have been begging the team for a large font edition for decades now.
Pretty much everything about the Bucs is new this season. The coach is new. The GM is new. The owner is dead. Yes, it's true! The Bucs were one of three teams this offseason that were blessed with a death in ownership. I'll miss Malcolm Glazer, the world's richest Amish man. I'll miss the way he cycled between overspending and slashing budgets, and the way he flirted with London even though Tampa built him a stadium just four weeks ago, and the chinbeard. 'Twas a fine chinbeard.
Football-wise, the team cut ties with Darrelle Revis after burning two draft picks on him and handing him $16 million. Revis is now a Patriot, and of course he will instantly revert to All-Pro form now that he's out of Tampa. God goddamn you, Bucs. Stop handing New England good defensive backs for nothing. The Bucs tried to make up for Revis' loss by signing Mike Jenkins (who is fucking terrible) and Alterraun Verner (who cannot possibly be worse than Mike Jenkins). They also drafted receiver and world's greatest interview Mike Evans to help out Jike McGlenClown.
Also, Josh Freeman has died. I'm all but certain of it.
What has always sucked: In 36 years of existence, here are the only notable things the Bucs have given the general football public:
- The first winless season
- A uniform that is aggressively unpleasant to look at every year
- The Tampa 2 defense, which sucks for the reasons outlined above
- That stupid Berman training camp video he shows every year
- The worst Super Bowl during the worst season. If the country voted to eliminate one season from existence and pretend it had never happened, that year the Bucs won the SB would get 90 percent of the vote.
- Initializing the modern boom of stadia designed to entertain children first and host football games second. Hey kids, come hang around our big stupid pirate ship! Also, there's a football game.
- Keyshawning, in which a mouthy player is suspended for being mouthy, allowing football fans the world over to nod their heads in solemn approval. Good for them, shutting down that spoiled child. I swear to you, some football fans get more excited about a good public shaming than an actual on-field victory.
- White fanboys salivating over Mike Alstott. Christ. Remember when Berman used to make all those grunting noises over an Alstott highlight, like he was a child playing with a GI Joe doll? I hated that.
- Warren Sapp, who is an asshole.
- Validating Jon Gruden as a football mastermind. I really did not need that to happen. Here's Mike Tirico on Gruden: "I thought I knew something about football before I met Jon. Now I realize I had no clue. The five-year masters program that he's put me through is a degree that I'm second-proudest to have earned. Number one is from my alma mater, Syracuse. But the Gruden School of Football is a damn close second." You know what, Mike? None of that precious learning comes through when I watch that asshole on TV. What I learn is I LIKE THE WAY THIS TEAM RUNS THE BALL MIKE.
There's your Bucs legacy. All in service of the greater Tampa area, which is a giant, dilapidated gated community for old stupid people. I went to Tampa this spring. After crossing a five thousand-mile bridge to get to the nice, beachy areas in St. Pete, you are greeted with this sign:
The fuck, man? Nobody told me about sting rays! IF ONLY YOU HAD A PROFESSIONAL SPORTS MASCOT THAT COULD HAVE WARNED ME…
What might not suck: The Bucs made sweeping changes this offseason and brought in both Lovie and McCown so that they could win nine games right away, and then spend the next five years getting no better. You won't suck. You're just not gonna be all that good.
Also, Doug Martin is healthy again! Or at least, he better be. You're costing America money, Martin.
Hear it from Bucs fans!
Games at Raymond James are some of the most anemic sports experiences in the country.
It's hot everywhere in America, but here's the thing: It is relentlessly like that nine months a year here. Which means a lot of locals are in no rush to go sit outside. They've all seen how bad this team can be and know those first six weeks will often be enough for expectations to crash back down to earth and for people to start selling their tickets on Stubhub for laughable prices. If you wait until midseason, every ticket is a fire sale. Assuming you even pay. Because if you wait long enough, people will start giving you tickets like they're Monkey's Paws. PLEASE, GO TO THE GAME INSTEAD OF ME. IT CONTAINS A TERRIBLE CURSE. I have never had to pay for a Bucs ticket, and every time I wish for a turkey sandwich now, the turkey's a little dry. I'm okay with this.
If you're a cheapskate, it's great. But as a sports experience, it blows. The tailgates, tents food trucks around Raymond James are quirky and pretty awesome. There are shaded streets with barbecue carts around it, and the atmosphere feels like "gameday." Then you get in the stadium, and half the people are tourists taking in a game on the cheap, or people who don't care about football (or at least non-SEC football) getting tickets from friends or as freebies from law firms or something. Add that to the fact that half the people living here aren't from here—or are people who would rather claim to be LIFELONG Steelers or Cowboys or Patriots fans because they lived those places until age 8—and the chance that anybody's cheering for the Bucs is maybe one in three. It sucks the energy out of you. Assuming the Glazers treating the team like a cash-cow afterthought doesn't already.
Our fans can't bother to show up to games, and then complain that it's the owner's fault for not buying up all the seats so they can watch the games at home.
If there is a franchise that has been intelligently designed for this series, it's the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
After losing their first 26 games, they drove a franchise QB (Doug Williams) away when he had nerve to ask for a raise (being black probably didn't help either). Then they stumbled upon another franchise QB and future hall of famer (Steve Young) a few years later and traded him to make room for Vinny Testaverde. They poached a head coach off a used RV lot. In a rare moment of clarity, the front office correctly assessed Bo Jackson's talent, but he, in turn, correctly assessed the front office were a bunch of incompetent dicks and refused to become their employee. Bill Parcells pulled the Lucy/football trick on the Bucs twice. Where other teams are uninteresting or forgettable, the Bucs make headlines. Chris Simms was literally almost killed in front of 65,000 fans. The practice facility is not safe for human beings. Greg Schiano. The Tampa Bay area has twice the population of Jacksonville, and yet the Jaguars average attendance is higher. Josh Freeman went from potential $100 million free agent to waiver fodder in a third of a season. The fans fall into two categories: bandwagon rednecks and bandwagon greaseballs, and both types are eagerly anticipating the new reflective jersey numbers as if they are indeed a groundbreaking innovation.
It's a public holiday when our home games don't get blacked out.
For QB, our choices are a guy who was coaching high school football a couple years or a second-year guy who is apparently some kind of offspring of a giraffe and Beaker from the Muppet show.
My dad and I have been season ticket holders for 16 years. Even when I lived in another part of Florida, I would drive home to go to games with my dad because we enjoy spending the time together. We used to get frustrated or irritated when things didn't go well. Now we don't even care enough to be upset. Over the last season or two, things have gotten to the point with this team where I show up for opening day wondering who the starting lineups will be (because I don't care enough to do research ahead of time) then spend the first few minutes after the announcement trying to figure out who the hell most of the players are. For several years now we have tailgated with some friends. At the beginning of last season, my dad announced that he doesn't see a point in packing up the tailgate early, and so we no longer make any effort to make it into the game for kickoff, because we all enjoy hanging out in the 95+ degree parking lot more than sitting in our seats watching this miserable team. My dad used to literally sprint out the doors of church to make sure he saw the start of games. Now we wander in at our leisure, unsurprised to find the Bucs already behind by 10 points.
We're the only team in the NFL that could get the Jets to make a bad trade with us for Revis, and then turn around and make a worse move to get rid of the guy a year later.
I was with a group of about 10 other fans during our 0-8 run last season when someone suggested that none of this would be happening if we still wore orange.
Everyone nodded sagely and unironically. Including me.
Tampa, just like every city down here, is full of obnoxious northern transients who either only go to the games when their damn Yankee team comes to town, or only bandwagon on the Bucs when they're decent. It's the curse of the Sun Belt Cities. Everyone moves down; the league thinks that means there's a new market to exploit; they make one; and then complain about the loyalty gap that exists between, say, the Cardinals versus the Packers. All the while Philly fans, or whoever it is that day, taunt you for daring to like the local team and gloating about how they fill your stadium.
There are many reasons why the Bucs suck – the worst all-time win percentage in the league, the fact that Josh Freeman warrants serious consideration as the greatest quarterback in team history, and anything remotely related to Bucco Bruce, to name just a few – but as a Bucs fan, I believe the team's unique brand of suck comes from the fact that no one gives the slightest fuck about them.
The vast majority of their history is every bit as sorry as those of the Bills, Lions and Browns, but the Bucs do not receive the same level of simultaneous ridicule and pity that those franchises do. While their Super Bowl victory certainly separates them from that group, everyone forgot about said Super Bowl anyway until Tim Brown and Jerry Rice came forward a decade afterwards to claim Bill Callahan sabotaged the Raiders in order to hand Jon Gruden a championship. I suppose losing to the Bucs is so embarrassing that "Bill Callahan fucking sucks" wasn't a suitable explanation.
Thanks to the headline-grabbing derpfest that was the Greg Schiano regime, 2013 became the first season in recent memory in which the Bucs weren't a complete afterthought of every NFL fan. Fortunately, the hiring of Lovie Smith should help them re-embrace their rightful role of complete anonymity as they go 8-8 for the rest of eternity.
P.S. Their new uniforms belong in the XFL and they released an under-30 Darrelle Revis.
At this point, the Bucs might as well put up a sign outside of the locker room that says "it's been ___ days without a MRSA incident."
Bucs fans are the chain smoking waitress from Waffle House that's hopped up on pain pills while her 5 kids run around screaming and destroying everything in sight.
Ever since winning the Super Bowl in 2002, we haven't won a single playoff game.
The top three quarterbacks in the Bucs franchise history by yardage are Vinnie Testaverde, Josh Freeman, and Trent Dilfer. Freeman would have eclipsed Testaverde last year if he and Schiano hadn't entered into a bet to see who could be blacklisted from the NFL first.
These were the Bucs opening 2 drives against the Jets during the first game of last season:
1. A timeout, 3 penalties (two of which were delay of game penalties immediately following a timeout), a -10 yard sack, and a punt.
2. A fumble/safety in which the ball was snapped into the end zone.
Unable to give Tony Dungy latitude in choosing his own offensive coordinators... trading away too many high picks to get Gruden basically killing any rebuilding efforts of the mid-2000s... obsessing over getting a franchise QB but never doing anything about it when Aaron Rodgers was just SITTING THERE, and then dropping Gruden over that issue in 2008, only to replace him with a coach in Raheem Morris with only two weeks of Coordinator experience and landing him a questionable QB in Josh Freeman... and the disaster that was Schiano /headdesk
There were several reasons the fans stopped coming to home games: partly the lousy recession economy from 2008 until maybe last year where fans couldn't afford even the parking lot costs, but mostly the bad ownership decisions and lousy personnel picks in Rah and #FireSchiano. Fans could smell the rot from miles away...
And just when the team FINALLY makes some smart moves like hiring a legit NFL coach in Lovie Smith... the owners decided they wanted to revamp the jerseys to encourage new sales and they give us these tear-your-eyes-out jerseys.
Because our QB competition is between fucking Josh McCown and the football throwing stork known as Mike Glennon.
And both of these are considered a massive upgrade over Josh Freeman.
We're a college football state, I'd argue the biggest next to Texas. But just like Texas, our pro-teams are an embarrassment and probably account for high suicide rates. Why is it so hard to have a winning team in a place this beautiful? It never snows, the people are beautiful, it's not nearly as expensive to live here as it is in the northeast or the West Coast. This city proper has two square miles of land by the airport that house more adult businesses than most entire states. Why is it so hard?
We once traded 2 first round picks and 2 second round picks in for a coach (Jon Gruden) and then fired him for not winning the Super Bowl every year after winning one Super Bowl because he didn't have the depth to continue that success with an aging team that had no 1st or 2nd round picks. Speaking of coaches, our sports talk radio guys got the nicest coach ever Tony Dungy fired because he got us to the playoffs ever year but never to the Super Bowl and when when he won the Super Bowl in Indy, those same sports talk guys on the radio said we shouldn't have fired Dungy.
We have never resigned a QB to a second contract.
We fired Jon Gruden to gainfully employ Raheem Morris and the Schiano Man for the last 5 years.
Our new jerseys look like we bought them from the XFL at their bankruptcy auction.
At any division game, there are more Panthers, Falcons, and Saints fans than actual Bucs fans. Of the Bucs fans, half of these assholes are wearing Gator collar shirts.
Our fans have got class shooting out of their butts. Most recent gem was a whole row behind me screaming "JOSH FREEMAN IS A FAEGGUT (sic)" for four quarters straight. The Civil Rights movement has yet to reach Tampa so every black quarterback has been treated like shit going back all the way to Williams.
All games were blacked out locally for fucking forever because everybody in Tampa is too drunk all the time to drive 2 minutes down the road to the stadium. It's not hard to miss. It's the tallest building in Tampa second to a building that looks like a beer can. We're so fucking clever that we call it "the beer can building".
We've got Cigar City Brewery, the best goddamn beer in the world and all they serve is Icehouse at the games.
More people remember the Titans losing the Super Bowl than the Bucs winning one.
You shouldn't even bother posting this article. Nobody is going to read this shit until we're the L.A.Buccaneers in 2020.
Trent Dilfer can suck my dick.
In 2003 I was on holiday in Tampa from the UK, and wanted to take advantage of the $1000000 reduction in shipping costs from the States by buying a Bucs jersey while I was there. Now I considered myself a football fan but back then only the Super Bowl was screened in the UK so I only knew a dozen or so players with their helmets off. Anyway, I'm stood in this store struggling to choose between a K. Johnson jersey and a B. Johnson jersey. I'm holding them out asking my girlfriend-at-the-time for her advice which of course was useless. This large white man besides me points at the Keyshawn jersey and says "That one". I just assumed it was another super polite American steering me on the right path. I thanked him and made my way to the counter.
When I went to the checkout to pay for my jersey, the guy behind the counter says "You don't know who that was, do you?" It was Brad Johnson.
That's right. Jon Gruden made his QBs feel so shitty about themselves that they actively dissuaded you from buying their jersey.
Last season when the Bucs played on MNF, they honored Warren Sapp by entering him in their Ring of Honor. They invited most of the 2002 Super Bowl team veterans (ironically this was on Veterans Day...GET IT) back to stand of the field as well. With maybe the exception of Derrick Brooks, the whole team was a whos-who of "eh" and "oh yeah, that guy was okay." I remember watching them on the field thinking "this was when we were the 'best'? I'm pretty sure the University of South Florida had more winning seasons playing at Raymond James Stadium than the Bucs did.
Who has been flip-floppy with their head coach hirings since firing Jon Gruden in 2009 (WE NEED A PLAYER'S COACH! No, wait, we need a TYRANT to whip these men into shape! No, shit, um, Tony Dungy 2.0??)? The Bucs.
Who has arguably the worst fan base in the league, to the point where I constantly try to defend myself against other fans of more popular/more successful teams even though I'm thinking "yes, you bald shitass, I get it...we suck"? The Bucs.
Who brought MRSA back into vogue like the bubonic plague, costing us our best (???) offensive lineman, an impending lawsuit with our former kicker, and is that crap even cleaned out of our facility? The Bucs.
Who looooooooooooooooves to give away money/awful contracts like its sweet, sweet candy, only to have nothing to show for it after said player decides "fuck it" and signs with another team who *GASP!!!* wins consistently? The Bucs.
Whose new uniforms look like a Casio alarm clock when the light hit them juuuuuuuust right to, ahem, "intimidate" our opponents? The Bucs.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go wait on my new team gear to arrive in the mail so I can jump for joy in it when....wait....IF we go 8-8 this season with a shitty o-line, journeyman QB (do you realize we've never had a franchise QB? Or a QB that has started for us for more than 5 consecutive years?) and the ridicule of all who root for out-of-town teams.
Everything about them feels like one of those football teams in a movie they didn't get licensed to use real team names.
Wanna be part of the Deadspin NFL previews? It's simple. Just email me and give me ample evidence of why your team sucks: personal anecdotes, encounters with fans, etc. I'll throw any good material into the post and give you proper credit. Next team up: THE PANTHERS.