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michael89156

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: November 22, 2011, 11:19:34 PM

Tampa Bay Buccaneers not doing much to be more likeable



 By Gary Shelton, Times Sports Columnist
In Print: Wednesday, November 23, 2011
 



They have not won in more than a month. Twice in six games, they have been accused of loafing, once by their head coach. Home games are almost always blacked out, and more and more, you get the feeling that road games are being tuned out.

So how do you like your Bucs now?

Over 10 weeks, they have one of the worst offenses in the league, which is troubling because they also have one of the worst defenses. They still spend less than most teams in the NFL. Also, the defensive huddle breaks with Aqib, Albert and Tanard.

And let's ask again. Do you like this team?

Still?

That was one of the goals of the new regime, remember? The Bucs wanted to be embraceable again. They not only wanted to win, they wanted to admired, the way they were in the old days. They wanted kids to wear their jerseys, adults to wear their caps. They wanted to win back the hearts of Tampa Bay.

It was that way in the old days, remember? The Bucs would play on Sunday, and Warrick Dunn would give away a house on Tuesday, and Derrick Brooks would mentor kids on Wednesday, and Mike Alstott would make an appearance for charity on Thursday, and John Lynch would visit his foundation on Friday. They were not only fine football players, they were fine people, and even in weeks they didn't win, the community still cared.

Now?

Do you like them? Do you think they are fun? Do they entertain you? Do their results affect your mood? Here's a question: When referring to the Bucs, do you use the words "we'' or "us?''

Three years into the current Bucs era and there still seems to be a disconnect between team and community. It is as if the Bucs and their fans are still at arm's length, still trying to figure each other out.

Start with losing, because in professional sports, that's the easiest thing to dislike. The Bucs haven't won a playoff game since 2002, and sadly, they don't look close to getting back to a postseason anytime soon. This year, there have been many more times when they have looked like the 3-13 team of 2009 rather than the 10-6 team of 2010.

Much of that has come down on the head coach. Still, give Raheem Morris credit for this much: The schedule is harder. That said, a head coach is the last person who should bring it up. In the NFL, no one grades on a curve.

Remember how Morris bristled last year when anyone mentioned the Bucs weren't beating winning teams? If the schedule is a reason for the current underachievement, then logic says it was the reason for the overachievement of last year, and suddenly, the Bucs have devalued the success of 2010.

Besides, you may remember this: The Bucs beat San Francisco by 21 points last year. They lost by 45 this year. That doesn't have a thing to do with the schedule.

Of course, fans might like the team better if they could follow it more closely. Again, I understand why owners grasp the blackout rule so firmly. If I were an owner, I wouldn't want to give away my product either. That said, the blackouts, and the ongoing rhetoric, isn't helping team win back fans.

Then there is the roster, where most players haven't been around long enough for fans to develop an emotional investment. Ask yourself this: Except for Ronde Barber's, and maybe Josh Freeman's, whose jersey would you purchase for your kid?

Aqib Talib's? Albert Haynesworth's? Tanard Jackson's? Yeah, yeah. Talib's trial isn't until next year, and the team is more talented with him. Haynesworth is still more of a Band-Aid than a blueprint, and no, no one really considers him a mentor. (Let's hope). Jackson was an upgrade.

Still, I have to tell you, it was puzzling that Jackson not only was active his first game, but started. And he not only started, but was introduced. And he was not only introduced, but was introduced last and carried the team flag as he entered the field. It was a hero's return to the field, not the return of a guy who had let down his team by being suspended for drugs.

Just wondering, but was there a point when discussing these players that the Bucs wondered about their team image? Even a little?

You know what people like? They like effort. They like achievement. They like discipline. They like players who stand for more than games on Sunday. They like the impression that today is going to be better than yesterday, and tomorrow is going to be better than that.

They like young players, as long as they are improving. They like toughness, as long as it can be counted on. They like character, as long as it is genuine. They like home games, as long as they aren't based in London.

Also, they like owners who want to win as badly as they do.

Yes, it comes back to the Glazers. Why wouldn't it? There have been too many years of low payroll for anyone to believe it's a coincidence. There is nothing wrong with building through the draft, but when the drafts were as bad as they were in the Bruce Allen years, there are too many holes to fill without signing the right free agent or two.

So how do you rekindle a relationship with fans? First, you win. We all agree on that.

After that, the standards should be raised when it comes to character. No one expects Boy Scouts in shoulder pads, but it's time to reduce the size of the off-field headlines on this team.

After that, cut a loafer. Cut two. Cut as many as it takes until effort is no longer an issue. And the front office should stop acting as if they shouldn't be questioned. For crying out loud, the president gets questioned.

Also, stop talking about the schedule. If you want easier opponents, go coach in the Big East.

As for the Glazers, it is time to be more visible (and more audible) in the community. Convince people you have a blueprint to win. Convince people it ticks you off as much as it ticks them off. Oh, and spend a little money, won't you?

This is what the Bucs needed to realize. As tough as the economy is, there are other reasons the stands are no longer stuffed. If you want a community to embrace you, then embrace it.

The Bucs need to be good. They need to be efficient. They need to be entertaining.

For the good of Tampa Bay, they need to be likeable.

Judging from this year, they have work to do.

The Anti-Java

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#1 : November 23, 2011, 12:31:17 AM

Just win baby.  I don't give a rats azz how likable you are.  I think the team needs more swagger, not less.


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#2 : November 23, 2011, 12:48:14 AM

meh, Im just tired of Shelton as hes always injecting his own opinion and assuming its the same as everyone else.

Shelton tries to say a large part of it is player character. Yes, they have a couple bad apples, but every team does. The Media is the one clinging to this as its the only good stories they can come up with. they are mentioning these few guys bad character every time they mention their name. How often are these "writers" reporting what the high character guys are doing? never? in an occasional tweet?

Maybe Mr. Shelton and his fellow colleges can point the finger back at themselves as the media backlash here in Tampa has been never ending since the final few Gruden years. the media just rips this team any chance they get for one thing or another and provide little positive cooverage. Think that may have an effect on or sway the public perception at all?

yeah, Warrick built houses, but when a few of the Bucs pay a visit to wounded war vets all we get is a tweet. Way to help change that perception Shelton.

theres a bunch of factors, but Shelton complains about primarily things that fall onto the media published perceptions. Winning tends to help, but it wont matter if the media continues to push mainly negative views.



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The Anti-Java

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#3 : November 23, 2011, 12:51:05 AM

Well the Bucs O-line handed out free turkeys tonight at OBP.   Just sayin.


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#4 : November 23, 2011, 01:38:03 AM

After that, the standards should be raised when it comes to character. No one expects Boy Scouts in shoulder pads, but it's time to reduce the size of the off-field headlines on this team.

Yeah, there have been a ton of off-field incidents this year.

Jackass.

jerseybucsfan

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#5 : November 23, 2011, 01:56:33 AM

Other than the character issue, though, he's mostly right. But what makes you NOT like players? Well, if Blount got more carries, he'd have more chances to make plays like last Sunday. THAT would make him more liked. If you had a more balanced offense, maybe Freeman would play better. Check on that too. And if you rode the hot hand, like last week, and didn't stop utilizing a receiver after a big play, then maybe they could build on it too.
Good core? OK. Give them credible backups. It's just a series of BAD decisions, both from a marketing standpoint and football standpoint. You made a lot of right decisions then you got lazy or **CENSORED**y or whatever. But the Bucs are Team Limbo right now.

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#6 : November 23, 2011, 01:58:25 AM

This article is spot on,   Never has this team been less liked by the community in the entire history of the Bucs.   There is something seriously wrong.


jerseybucsfan

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#7 : November 23, 2011, 01:59:27 AM

Not quite Java. We had a lot of pre-Dungy teams that weren't liked. Actually, they were mostly ignored.

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#8 : November 23, 2011, 02:03:46 AM

Not true.   I think this current team is more disliked - and ignored than any Buc team ever.


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#9 : November 23, 2011, 02:14:44 AM

Respectfully disagree. The Bucs didn't sell out pre-1997. They were ignored for 15 years before that. Once Doug left, there were a lot of bad feelings .... when there wasn't apathy.

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#10 : November 23, 2011, 02:17:54 AM

I know I had love for those teams and related to those players far more than the current players.

James Wilder or LeGarrette Blount?
Jimmie Giles or Kellen Winslow?

There is no comparison.  Those old teams were far more likeable.


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#11 : November 23, 2011, 02:29:37 AM

You're talking guys who came in pre-1982. Wilder hit his peak a few years later, but Giles didn't get any more popular (nor any more successful) after Doug left.
The Bucs stunk after Doug left. There were occasional moments of individual excitement (like when Wilder was chasing the rushing title at the end of 1984). But they were fleeting.
You had a whole bunch of guys who had been really good all of a sudden take on less relevance: Green, Giles, etc.
Granted that the most UNPOPULAR aspect of the team was the owner; that can't be denied. But from that came apathy. As for your comparisons, there's no doubting that Giles will always be more popular than Winslow. But it's a bit premature to put Blount in any category. And Wilder, for all his brilliance, was not a star for long.

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#12 : November 23, 2011, 07:18:51 AM

Blount is the least likeable RB in team history.   He's a punk.   I'll likely never support him.   Guys like James Wilder, Ricky Bell, Gary Anderson, Warrick Dunn, Mike Alstott,   Hell, even Reggie Cobb and Errict Rhett easier to cheer for than fists first Blount.

I've literally liked every roster in Buc history prior to the arrival of Raheem better than any roster Raheem has fielded.   And you already know what I think about Raheem.

This team is flat out unlikeable.


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#13 : November 23, 2011, 07:47:54 AM

The current Bucs are not likeable to the average fan, especially because of the blackouts which Shelton is correct.  For die-hard fans this is a likeable team to watch to grow as a unit, but they indeed need a direction instead of limbo status.


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#14 : November 23, 2011, 07:52:36 AM

They have not won in more than a month. Twice in six games, they have been accused of loafing, once by their head coach. Home games are almost always blacked out, and more and more, you get the feeling that road games are being tuned out.

So how do you like your Bucs now?

Over 10 weeks, they have one of the worst offenses in the league, which is troubling because they also have one of the worst defenses. They still spend less than most teams in the NFL. Also, the defensive huddle breaks with Aqib, Albert and Tanard.

And let's ask again. Do you like this team?


Wow - Shelton has been reading our message board. He hits the nail on the head.
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