The event was billed as a chance for Buccaneers fans to “get connected with Tampa Bay general manager Bruce Allen,” and in the west club section at Raymond James Stadium on the evening of July 19 that’s exactly what happened. Verizon Wireless and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sponsored a town hall meeting where Allen gave an hour-long multi-media presentation to close to 200 lucky Bucs fans that were chosen to attend the event based on questions they submitted to Allen via Buccaneers.com.
After Allen’s presentation, which gave fans a background on the Buccaneers and touched on the areas of coaching, scouting, player contracts and the salary cap, among other topics, the Bucs’ general manager fielded questions for an additional hour.
“We’re going to call this NFL 101,” Allen said as he delved into some areas of discussion that even the local media may not be particularly well versed in.
Among the interesting highlights from the evening:
• The coaching work week. Did you know that the Bucs coaches generally have minimum set hours and don’t get a day off from the day training camp opens until the end of football season? Assistant coaches are expected to work from 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, from 6:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, from 6:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays, from 6:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on Fridays, and from 6:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. on Saturdays when the Bucs play at home. That’s at least 73 hours per week. Of course head coach Jon Gruden is famous for being in the office in the 3:00 a.m. – 4:00 a.m. time frame, which prompted Allen to say, “You think you are early when you get there at 5:30 a.m., and then he says, ‘Did you bring lunch?'”
• While talking about the coaches, Allen stressed the great work done by special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, who he acknowledged has come under fire from fans and the media at times. Allen stated how both of Tampa Bay’s specialists, kicker Matt Bryant and punter Josh Bidwell, set team records for field goal accuracy and punting average, and how Bisaccia played a role in that. Allen also noted that Bucs linebackers coach Joe Barry would be a head coach some day. Allen denied Barry the opportunity to become Detroit’s defensive coordinator under Barry’s father-in-law, Rod Marinelli, in January because he is still under contract with the Bucs.
• During an inside look at the Buccaneers on video tape, Allen showed video shot from the coaches angle and stressed that while wide receiver Joey Galloway had a great season with a franchise-record 10 touchdown catches in 2005, he should have had 17. On the highlight reel of Galloway’s 10 scores were also some drops, some overthrown passes or some underthrown passes that cost Galloway the chance to score even more touchdowns. Also shown was Sean Mahan’s holding call against New Orleans in the season finale that got Galloway’s 11th touchdown of the year called back. With a tongue-in-cheek attitude, Allen stated the obvious, “You don’t catch this guy. He’s really, really fast.”
• At the end of showing game and practice footage of Galloway, the final clip was of former Bucs receiver Keyshawn Johnson dropping a pass in the end zone against Carolina during the 2003 season. “I don’t need to tell you who won that trade,” Allen said with a sly grin, regarding his trade that sent Johnson to Dallas for Galloway in 2004. Johnson is now an NFC South rival as he signed with Carolina in the offseason.
• Allen stated that the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the only Super Bowl team in the last 20 years not to be recognized at the White House by the President. The Bucs’ scheduled trip in April of 2003 was called off due to the beginning of the Iraq War and was never rescheduled.
• Aside from multiple discussions about the salary cap and player contracts, fans found out that the average NFL career lasts only 3.6 years, the 2006 NFL salary cap is $119.8 million, the league minimum for an NFL player with no experience is $275,000 and the league minimum for a 10-year veteran is $810,000. Allen stated that 95 percent of all language in NFL contracts is essentially done due to language agreed upon by the NFL and the NFLPA, leaving only 5 percent of the language to be dictated by the actual contract negotiations between the team and the player agent. Allen also said the Bucs plan on spending $1 billion in player contracts over the next six years.
• Among the more interesting questions Allen fielded during the Q&A segment was one from a woman who was a member of the Tampa Bay Terminators womens football league. She asked the Bucs general manager what he thought about women playing football. Allen responded by saying, “I’m for anyone playing football. It’s the best sport. It is the team sport.” He went on to point out baseball and basketball are really individual sports compared to football.
The event proved to be a hit with Buccaneers fans that were actually given a blank player contract to review. Some fans came as far away as North Carolina and New Jersey for the chance to watch Allen’s presentation, participate in the question-and-answer session and meet the general manager after the event.
“You get such great energy from talking with the fans,” Allen said. “There’s nothing that replaces that one-on-one contact.”
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