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CarrollwoodBucs

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: March 26, 2010, 07:07:43 AM

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the third overall pick in what is being called the deepest draft in years. The Bucs are going to select a very good player with that choice -- a potential superstar -- so that's something the club can be fired up about.

And then there's the downside.

"I wasn't excited about building up to it," coach Raheem Morris said Wednesday. "Or how we got there."

Bucs fans apparently aren't, either.

On the heels of going 3-13 in 2009 -- the franchise's worst record in 18 years -- team ownership expects the 2010 season will bring blackouts of home games on local television for the first time in years. The team's run of 103 straight sellouts, including all 100 games played since Raymond James Stadium opened for the 1998 season, is all but certain to end in September.

"Where we sit today, we don't want people to be necessarily surprised because we haven't had this in 15 years, but we're staring at the possibility for the first time in a decade and a half of having games blacked out in our local market," Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer told The Tampa Tribune. "It's not what we want and we are working very hard to try and see that it doesn't happen, but it is a real possibility."

The backlash began last fall when fans grew weary of watching a watered-down -- and wretched -- version of the Bucs following the offseason release of a slew of high-priced veterans, including franchise icon Derrick Brooks. The mess marked Year 1 of a massive youth movement that differed greatly from the approach taken by the previous regime led by coach Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen.

After an 0-7 start low-lighted by the firing of both coordinators, fans stayed away in droves as the '09 season wore on. The Glazers' ownership group, however, maintained the sellout streak through corporate or in-house purchases, with tickets donated to charity. Team officials place the current season-ticket base around 40,000, a far cry from the 2002 Super Bowl season when demand was such that the Bucs claimed a season-ticket waiting list of more than 100,000.

The timing of the Tampa Bay swoon could not be worse. Not only are the Bucs losing amid tough economic times -- a bad enough combination -- but fans have seen next to nothing on the front of upgrading the roster since the free-agency period began this offseason. The Bucs, under second-term GM Mark Dominik, have made it clear the club intends to rebuild through the draft, so the Pewter- and Red-clad fan base has only a trade for Philadelphia reserve wideout Reggie Brown and signings of two unrestricted free agents, Eagles safety Sean Jones and Oakland linebacker Jon Alston, to whet its thirst for improvement.

"Looking at our history, when it was necessary to spend to keep people or get someone to put us over the top, we didn't think twice about it. And we won't think twice about it ever."
- Joel Glazer The talk-radio waves in Tampa Bay have been fraught with callers accusing the Bucs of doing business on the cheap, and the Glazers of caring more about their ownership interests in international soccer power Manchester United, which the team bought in 2005 for nearly $1.5 billion.

(Worth noting: If the league-wide salary cap were in play, the Bucs reportedly would be more than $75 million under the system's floor. The '09 cap was $129 million and the floor around $108 million.)

Those charges were denied -- and the rebuilding process defended -- by Bucs at the highest levels during this week's NFL owners meetings that adjourned Wednesday afternoon at the Ritz Carlton Grand Lakes Resort.

"It may seem like it's just being cheap and you don't want to be involved [with free agency] and you're just trying to save money," Dominik said. "But for me, I got this opportunity and we sat down and talked about what I envisioned for this football team. We wanted to rebuild this football team with youth and the draft, as we did in years past [in the '90s]."

The Bucs of that era, under GM Rich McKay and coach Tony Dungy, drafted the likes of Brooks, Warren Sapp, Warrick Dunn and Ronde Barber to turn around a franchise that went through 14 straight losing seasons (1983-96) into one of the league's marquee clubs and an eventual Super Bowl champion.

Morris was hired as a defensive assistant coach in '02, the year the Bucs won the organization's lone world championship. They were the pride of a region.

They're not anymore.

"Of course you care. Those are your fans," Morris said. "But it's not about the frustration out there, it's more about the temperament of how you dictate what we're trying to get done. It's no different than what every [good] team has done: build through the draft. Jerry Rice didn't come from another football team to the 49ers to create a dynasty. Emmitt Smith didn't come from another team to the Dallas Cowboys to create a dynasty. They were drafted and home-bred."

Joel Glazer, son of owner Malcolm Glazer, knows that blueprint works. There's a catch, though, and it's an obvious one. The people doing the drafting better know what they're doing. On that front, Glazer tossed Allen and Gruden under the bus Wednesday after recalling the days when the Bucs were one of the most aggressive teams (see: Johnson, Brad or Rice, Simeon) on the free-agent front.

"Looking at our history, when it was necessary to spend to keep people or get someone to put us over the top, we didn't think twice about it. And we won't think twice about it ever," Glazer told The Tribune (the team did not respond to interview requests from a Tampa-base FanHouse NFL writer). "Money is not an issue and that perception is false. Sometimes, I feel that charge [of being cheap] is a scapegoat. It's one easy, tangible thing people grab onto.

"But I grab onto not drafting well for many years. That's like a slow cancer that builds and grows and eventually takes over. That is a major source of our problems and that's the problem that has to be corrected. You correct that problem and you start writing a lot of big checks. And you're happy to do it because that's a good problem to have."

That means the pressure is on Dominik and his front office to follow up on a decent '09 draft, headlined by first-round pick and possible franchise quarterback Josh Freeman, with an even better haul in 2010. Freeman went 3-6 as a starter, throwing 10 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. The kid needs weapons, especially at receiver, on an offense that ranked 28th in the league. But the Bucs also have crying needs on defense.

That No. 3 overall selection could yield Tampa Bay either Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy, the top-shelf defensive tackle prospects in the pool. Either player instantly would upgrade a unit that finished 27th overall and gave up a league-worst 158.3 yards rushing per game.

"You're talking about a guy who's going to run out the tunnel and contribute to your football team immediately," Morris said, speaking in generalities about the No. 3 pick, the highest choice the club has made since selecting first in 1987. "He'll have his ups and downs and go through his rookie ways and woes. Those are things you look forward to as a coach. But you don't want to be in this position."

When you are, you want as many picks as possible. The Bucs also have two high choices in the second round -- the 35th and 42nd overall selections -- five of the top 102 picks and 11 draft choices total.

By design, a young team is about to get even younger.

"The thing that happened to this football team over the last 12 months is that it went through a youth movement," Dominik said of the purge that along with Brooks, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, also included veterans Dunn, Ike Hilliard, Joey Galloway, Cato June and Kevin Carter. "As controversial as it certainly was at the time, to go through that and be done with that in terms of players ... now we add on to that core."

They better do it right.

Right now, a lot of empty seats in a big stadium need to be filled.



whenever they decide to spend some of the 75 million under the cap or at least movie out of last place on the nfl spending i will think about renewing my 4 season tickets that i cancelled last year

jaybuc88

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#1 : March 26, 2010, 08:29:54 AM

If you Bail on your team your NOT a fan...period, do I like or agree with what they have done no...BUT I will always love the Bucs and will never bail out on them

white dragon

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#2 : March 26, 2010, 08:34:02 AM

Um dungy mckay didn't draft sapp or brooks

dalbuc

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#3 : March 26, 2010, 08:35:35 AM

If you Bail on your team your NOT a fan...period, do I like or agree with what they have done no...BUT I will always love the Bucs and will never bail out on them

Loyalty and paying money aren't the same thing - all ticket sales at the stadium indicates is how willing people are to pay money to watch the games not their loyalty to the team.

All posts are opinions in case you are too stupid to figure that out on your own without me saying it over and over.

PWNASAURUS

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#4 : March 26, 2010, 08:46:47 AM

This town has always been 90% frontrunners and bandwagoners. They all think they are entitled to win every year and if they aren't out signing every FA then they are cheap? Get over yourself. They are doing this the right way so the Club can compete for a title over a 6-10 year stretch not 1 year shots with crusty old vets who can't win in December.


tailnreds

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#5 : March 26, 2010, 08:51:35 AM

This town has always been 90% frontrunners and bandwagoners. They all think they are entitled to win every year and if they aren't out signing every FA then they are cheap? Get over yourself. They are doing this the right way so the Club can compete for a title over a 6-10 year stretch not 1 year shots with crusty old vets who can't win in December.

+1

cheveliar

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#6 : March 26, 2010, 08:58:30 AM

If you Bail on your team your NOT a fan...period, do I like or agree with what they have done no...BUT I will always love the Bucs and will never bail out on them

Loyalty and paying money aren't the same thing - all ticket sales at the stadium indicates is how willing people are to pay money to watch the games not their loyalty to the team.

+1
This town has always been 90% frontrunners and bandwagoners. They all think they are entitled to win every year and if they aren't out signing every FA then they are cheap? Get over yourself. They are doing this the right way so the Club can compete for a title over a 6-10 year stretch not 1 year shots with crusty old vets who can't win in December.

-1
This town is what it is.  Built on a few natives and over run by front running outsiders from up North.  So please with the blanket statements and indignations of the people who've been through the lean times and remain as they've come again...

Without Carl Nix it feels like our running game just took a death blow to the face!




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#7 : March 26, 2010, 09:04:27 AM

Most Uneducated and Uninformed Football fans in the NFL.

LoganBucs37

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#8 : March 26, 2010, 09:08:23 AM

If you Bail on your team your NOT a fan...period, do I like or agree with what they have done no...BUT I will always love the Bucs and will never bail out on them

Yea,  your lucky to be able to piss your money away.

Gas $4 a gallon, Thank you all who voted for the Socialist.

LoganBucs37

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#9 : March 26, 2010, 09:09:51 AM

If you Bail on your team your NOT a fan...period, do I like or agree with what they have done no...BUT I will always love the Bucs and will never bail out on them

Yea,  your lucky to be able to piss your money away.

Gas $4 a gallon, Thank you all who voted for the Socialist.

LoganBucs37

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#10 : March 26, 2010, 09:10:23 AM

This town has always been 90% frontrunners and bandwagoners. They all think they are entitled to win every year and if they aren't out signing every FA then they are cheap? Get over yourself. They are doing this the right way so the Club can compete for a title over a 6-10 year stretch not 1 year shots with crusty old vets who can't win in December.

Aren't you special.  Richard.

Gas $4 a gallon, Thank you all who voted for the Socialist.

PWNASAURUS

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#11 : March 26, 2010, 09:21:26 AM

This town has always been 90% frontrunners and bandwagoners. They all think they are entitled to win every year and if they aren't out signing every FA then they are cheap? Get over yourself. They are doing this the right way so the Club can compete for a title over a 6-10 year stretch not 1 year shots with crusty old vets who can't win in December.

Aren't you special.  Richard.
Your Like Polesmoker28. You never add anything of substance or validity to any threads. All you do is **CENSORED** and whine glazer sucks, glazer sucks and you don't even know what your whining about. LMAO. Tim Brown was right.


dalbuc

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#12 : March 26, 2010, 09:30:19 AM

Your Like Polesmoker28. You never add anything of substance or validity to any threads. All you do is dog and whine glazer sucks, glazer sucks and you don't even know what your whining about. LMAO. Tim Brown was right.

Explain to me why people should pay good money to watch a bad team? If fans fill up the stadium for good or ill what exactly is the owner's incentive to put  a better product on the field.

All posts are opinions in case you are too stupid to figure that out on your own without me saying it over and over.

PWNASAURUS

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#13 : March 26, 2010, 09:44:56 AM

Your Like Polesmoker28. You never add anything of substance or validity to any threads. All you do is dog and whine glazer sucks, glazer sucks and you don't even know what your whining about. LMAO. Tim Brown was right.

Explain to me why people should pay good money to watch a bad team? If fans fill up the stadium for good or ill what exactly is the owner's incentive to put  a better product on the field.
Not saying anyone should buy any tickets. That is your decision and many factors could be involved. I am annoyed with this continual whining about being cheap when most don't understand or don't want to understand the underlying reasons. I tried to explain this on here for months and Joel Glazer tried to explain it but everyone's a cynicist right. The link to horrible drafting and low player payroll is valid and yet most ignore or don't want to hear it because it falls on Gruden. His drafts in 2004-2006 should be the core of this team right now yet he or the regime bombed almost every pick and not one gets a big signing bonus or big extension. Is that the owners fault? I mean I would love to have some more top flight talent on this team that can help right away but all those guys are on other teams rosters.


JavaBuc

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#14 : March 26, 2010, 09:47:46 AM

Tim Brown was right.

About you?   I agree.
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