The Buccaneers confirmed Friday that they will hold joint practices prior to their August 24 preseason matchup. Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Bucs coach Greg Schiano have a personal friendship that developed over the last few years.
The Bucs will host the New England Patriots in a preseason matchup on Friday, August 24. Friday the team announced the visitors will arrive early to practice with Tampa on Wednesday, August 22 and Thursday, August 23.
Practicing with a rival preseason opponent is not new to the Buccaneers. The Miami Dolphins had joint practices with the Bucs before preseason games under head coaches Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden. Gruden’s first season, 2002, marked the last time the Bucs have practiced with another NFL team.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichik has long ties to the state of Florida. When Urban Meyer was the coach of the Florida Gators, Belichik made several visits to Gainesville over the course of Meyer’s six-year reign and drafted several Gators during that time span.
In 2010, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon received a personalized Patriots hoodie courtesy of Belichik after the Rays skipper was initially reprimanded for not wearing approved MLB outerwear during a road trip to Boston. Belichik, who has become infamous for wandering the sidelines in the fall wearing them, included a personal note.
“From one hoodie wearer to another, I thought I'd pass along my complete support with something to wear,” the note read.
Most recently, Belichik’s ties to the Bay area became much more personal. His son, Stephen, was a four-year lacrosse player for Rutgers, who, with one year left of eligibility joined the Scarlet Knights football team as a long snapper last season, under Greg Schiano.
The younger Belichik invited former Rutgers teammate and current Buccaneer Eric LeGrand to watch his father’s team play the New York Giants as a personal guest at Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis this past February.
Although several New England transplants have moved to the Tampa Bay area and remain true to their Patriots, they will not have an up close glimpse at Belichik or star quarterback Tom Brady, unless they purchase a ticket for the Friday night game; the two joint practices will be closed to the public.
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