In the past 24 years, the magazine formerly known as “The Buccaneer” when it was first owned by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1980s, has grown into PewterReport.com, a leading news website covering the Bucs with nearly three quarters of a million unique visitors each year and over 20 million page views annually that employs over a dozen writers, photographers and support staffers. Through the years, stories featured on PewterReport.com have been picked up on ProFootballTalk.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, FoxSports.com, CBSSports.com, SI.com and other national football websites, and its Bucs beat writers have made national TV and radio appearances on NFL Network, NFL Sirius Radio, the Jim Rome Show and ESPN Radio.
Now entering its 25th year of covering Bucs football led by publisher Scott Reynolds, who has 17 years worth of experience covering the Bucs, and director of photographer Cliff Welch, who has worked for the organization for the past 21 years, the rise of PewterReport.com can be chronicled for the loyal fans and readers that have supported the publication and website during a quarter century of reporting. Not only has it delivered breaking news, hard-hitting analysis and inside scoop found nowhere else throughout the years, PewterReport.com has also changed the way Bucs news has been reported by other media outlets over the years as well.
In this two-part retrospective celebrating 25 years of Bucs coverage, key members of the organization will tell the story of Pewter Report, beginning with Reynolds and former editor-in-chief Jim Flynn in the first installment.The Early Years of Buccaneer Magazine
Many Bucs fans and die-hard PewterReport.com readers may not realize that the news organization that they have come to follow and love over the years actually started off as the official team publication known as “The Buccaneer” in 1988. Former Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse started the publication and hired Jeffrey Neil Fox as an outside agent to sell advertising for “The Buccaneer.”
When David Jovanovic, the former publisher of “The Buccaneer,” killed his wife and then committed suicide on January 22, 1991 due to being deeply in debt, Culverhouse wanted to distance the publication from the team to avoid any bad publicity from the very public murder-suicide so he sold the publication to Fox, who took over as publisher and changed the name to “Buccaneer Magazine.”
After serving as a summer intern in 1994, former subscriber Scott Reynolds was hired by Fox to serve as a Bucs beat writer and subscriptions manager in 1995 after he graduated from Kansas State University. Reynolds was promoted to the role of editor-in-chief of Buccaneer Magazine in April of 1996.
“I remember being thrust into the position due to the sudden departure of the former editor-in-chief and I didn’t think I was ready,” Reynolds said. “I had covered K-State sports for a similar publication called ‘Wildcat Weekly,’ which helped my transition. I remember my first issue as editor-in-chief was the Buccaneer Magazine Pre-Draft Issue where I accurately predicted the team’s selection of defensive end Regan Upshaw with Tampa Bay’s first pick. I always loved the NFL Draft and nailing the first pick in my first issue gave me the confidence I needed to in that role. I am very grateful and appreciate the opportunity Jeff gave me to begin a career I would come to love over the past 17 years. I definitely learned a lot from his leadership.”
Reynolds also relied on the support from friend and colleague Pat Yasinskas, the former Bucs beat writer for the Tampa Tribune who reached out to Reynolds back in 1996 and served as a great mentor over the years before moving to North Carolina and serving as the Panthers beat writer for the Charlotte Observer.
“Pewter Report didn’t even exist in name or its current format back when I came on the Buccaneers beat for The Tampa Tribune back in the early to mid-1990s. It existed then as Buccaneer Magazine and was a relevant part of the media covering the Bucs. When an energetic young reporter named Scott Reynolds came on board in 1996, it quickly started becoming even more relevant. Scott brought an uncommon passion for the game that quickly allowed him to provide great insight.
“Through all the growth, the constant I’ve seen is that Pewter Report continues to put out great news and analysis and always does it with journalistic integrity. That’s why Pewter Report has grown and thrived.”
Yasinskas and Reynolds have remained close as Yasinskas moved back to the Tampa Bay area a few years ago to cover the Bucs, Panthers, Falcons and Saints as the NFC South guru for ESPN.com.Buccaneer Magazine Enters The Digital Age
Things began to change for Buccaneer Magazine with the opening of the Authentic Team Merchandise – Buccaneer Heaven store in 1997, as it was no longer the only focus of Fox’s business.
“Jeff Fox took a chance by purchasing Buccaneer Magazine from Hugh Culverhouse. He also had a great destination store for Bucs apparel called Buccaneer Heaven,” said former editor-in-chief Jim Flynn, who covered the Bucs for Pewter Report for 10 years. “The two literally went hand-in-hand, and his timing couldn’t have been better. He opened the store shortly before the Bucs changed their uniforms and made the playoffs in 1997 and business was booming.”
In 1998, Buccaneer Magazine took to the Internet and launched BucMag.com as part of the Rivals.com network to go along with the tabloid-sized black and white newsprint magazine, which was published weekly during the regular season and eight times during the offseason and preseason. With the news organization growing alongside the popularity of the team, Reynolds hired Flynn to help cover the Buccaneers in 2001.
“I subscribed to Buccaneer Magazine before I started interning there during the 2000 offseason,” Flynn said. “Scott would probably tell you that I practically stalked him for that internship. I was grateful to Scott and Jeff for giving me the opportunity – and for not calling the police on me for harassment. I wanted it badly. I understood that I would be required to do grunt work and pay my dues. I was able and willing to do that.
“One time, Jeff had me assemble a mechanical, talking pirate for the Buccaneer Heaven store. That’s definitely not what I aspired to do for a career, but my mindset was, ‘Whatever it takes.’”
Reynolds was impressed by Flynn’s constant posting on the BucMag.com message boards and saw some special reporter traits in his writing.
“I remember reading Jim’s insights and analysis on the Bucs on our message boards and even though he had no access to the team at that time, it was pretty much spot on,” Reynolds said. “I remember thinking, ‘How good could this guy’s writing be if only he had access to the players and coaches?’ When we created a journalist internship position, Jim jumped at the opportunity. Nobody wanted it more than he did and he quickly became one of the best and most respected Bucs beat writers in the Tampa Bay area and the nation.”
After graduating from the University of South Florida in 2001, Flynn helped Reynolds shepherd the magazine and website through the transition of going from a weekly tabloid-sized publication to a monthly color glossy magazine and even a name change.
“Buccaneer Magazine was paper and mostly black and white when I came aboard. It was a weekly publication during football season so our challenge was getting it to the printer the night of Tampa Bay’s game on Sunday,” Flynn said. “We had to do that in order to get it mailed in a timely manner. Those were some long and stressful nights. Scott had it the worst because he actually put the magazine together. On Sundays, we were just hoping that nothing serious happened on the field that would drastically alter the portions of the magazine or the cover we had already completed.
“Unfortunately, the post office and the Internet hindered our efforts to keep the magazine current in that format. As a fan, if you collected the magazines, it would look like you potty trained a puppy on the magazine after about one year or so. The magazine also easily ripped. Those challenges are ultimately what inspired the change to a monthly, color-glossy magazine with heavy emphasis on the website. We had to evolve. Each monthly magazine had a theme, and the Internet was quickly becoming the place most people, Bucs fans included, were going for their breaking news and instant analysis. That combination was effective and efficient.”The Birth of Pewter Report
While Buccaneer Magazine was a former team-owned publication, most Tampa Bay fans didn’t realize that it was actually an independent source of news on the Bucs. The fact that the publication had right to use the trademarks and logos of the Buccaneers only created more confusion.
“I remember the days when our Buccaneer Magazine offices would field a ton of calls about season tickets and the Buccaneers would field plenty of calls about subscription renewals,” Reynolds said. “It was a frustrating scenario for both the Buccaneers and our organization. The Glazers realized this a few years after taking ownership of the team and we jointly discussed a name change.”
Reynolds and Flynn saw the opportunity that presented itself with a name change.
“There was a lot of confusion regarding whether Buccaneer Magazine was owned and operated by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or if it was an independent magazine. Both entities had concerns about this,” Flynn said. “We decided that we should change the name of the magazine to help eliminate this confusion. We threw around a lot of possible names. One of the names we gave serious consideration to was Pewter Pride, but after sleeping on it, we felt it sounded too much like a homer magazine. So Scott coined the name Pewter Report, which really captured what the magazine and website were.”
Reynolds explained the concept of the name Pewter Report.
“While Pewter Pride had a catchy alliteration to it, it just wasn’t serious enough,” Reynolds said. “We are – and always have been – an NFL-credentialed media outlet and we needed a name that reflected that. The name Pewter Report just kind of rolls off your tongue the right way and has two distinct words that totally describe our business. No other team in the NFL has the color pewter in their uniforms and logos. The color pewter is distinctive to the Buccaneers. The word ‘report’ is obvious because that’s what we do. We are reporters. If you are a Bucs fan, you’ll easily suspect that Pewter Report reports on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.”
Through the years, Reynolds and Flynn were totally committed to helping Fox build the Pewter Report enterprise and put in a ton of sweat equity as a two-man reporting operation that handled everything, including reporting, story generation, magazine layout, editing, photo selection and story publication on the Internet.
“There were many life lessons learned at Pewter Report,” Flynn said. “For starters, you learn how to be efficient. You don’t have a lot of time because your life is literally consumed by the NFL. You learn to appreciate your life outside of work, mainly your family. When the agent calls you back at 11:00 p.m. on a Friday night, it wasn’t just you that had your life interrupted. Your wife was also impacted because now the movie is on pause, or we can’t go to that birthday party, or whatever.
“Media has the highest divorce rate in any industry, or at least that statistic held true when I attended USF. I am very thankful that my wife was patient and supportive during my time with Pewter Report. I couldn’t have put the work in without her support.”
Unfortunately, Reynolds’ marriage didn’t survive the increased workload that came with the rise of the Buccaneers. In 2002, Pewter Report and PewterReport.com were born, just in time for the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl season. The popularity of the championship team and the rebranding boosted subscriptions to Pewter Report magazine and the amount of readers to PewterReport.com.
“Jon Gruden had energized the Bucs fanbase, as well as the team, evidenced by Tampa Bay winning the Super Bowl in his first season here,” Flynn said. “It was right around this time that Pewter Report elevated its game as far as reporting goes. Buccaneer Magazine had been an advertising vehicle, but Scott and I believed that good, unique reporting could only help bring in more Bucs fans, whether they wanted to buy clothes from Buccaneer Heaven or read breaking news and analysis on their favorite team. Scott and I made a commitment to deliver the news and analysis to fans that we craved as subscribers to the magazine.”
The Super Bowl victory also proved to be a huge score for the Buccaneer Heaven store during the 2002 season, but instead of financially securing the success of Pewter Report and PewterReport.com for the future, poor investments in 2003 and the following years nearly doomed the enterprise. Each magazine featured more ads for Bucs merchandise and the focus of Fox’s business shifted from reporting to selling apparel and novelties, much to the chagrin of Reynolds and Flynn.
“I know Jeff cared deeply about the magazine, but his time was tied up in the store,” Flynn said. “I’ll never forget the time that Scott and I had broken a story on Brian Griese re-working his contract to remain a Buccaneer. We had a staff meeting the next morning, and a few people mentioned that they saw that we had broken the story. Jeff came in a few minutes later and mentioned that Griese had been re-signed. He didn’t know that we broke the story. It was kind of funny, but also a sign of the times.”
Reynolds and Flynn grew more and more concerned about their careers and the future of the enterprise.
“As a business, Pewter Report was stagnating,” Reynolds said. “Unfortunately, our reporting began taking more of a backseat within the company in 2003 as Jeff’s emphasis was on selling Bucs merchandise. When he became the official merchandiser of USF Bulls merchandise, the future of Pewter Report and PewterReport.com were hanging in the balance for a while. Taking on the role of selling Bulls merchandise was definitely the right decision for Jeff and his store, and I can’t fault him for that, but Jim and I knew that Pewter Report needed a breath of fresh air, more attention and ultimately new ownership.”Pewter Report Retrospective Part 2 - Coming Tomorrow
As fate would have it, long-time Bucs fan, season ticket holder and Pewter Report subscriber Hugh MacArthur, a successful business investor, would step in at the right time in 2005 and take over the magazine and website in 2006. In part two of this 25th year Pewter Report retrospective, which is coming on Tuesday, the success of Pewter Report under the leadership of MacArthur, Reynolds and Flynn is revealed, as well as the way Pewter Report has influenced reporting on the Buccaneers in the Tampa Bay area. Don't miss this insightful article full of some surprising, behind-the-scenes details of Pewter Report's coverage through the Jon Gruden and Bruce regime and the Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik era.
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