Attending NFL offseason events like the East-West Shrine Bowl, the Senior Bowl and the NFL Annual Meeting (otherwise known as the NFL Owners Meeting) not only provides media outlets like PewterReport.com the opportunity to conduct interviews – not only with Bucs personnel, but also with national media members – and get scoop from our sources from around the league.
Among some of the Bucs’ related buzz at the East-West Shrine Bowl in St. Petersburg, Fla. was the rumor that the NFL could kickoff the 2020 football season by having the Bucs play the Raiders in Las Vegas on Monday Night Football. The NFL schedule will not be officially released until mid-April right before the 2020 NFL Draft, so nothing is set in stone.
But the speculation does make some sense.
The Raiders will be making the move from Oakland to a brand new stadium in Las Vegas in 2020, and the league will surely want to showcase the new crown jewel in the desert before a nationally televised audience.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden – Photo by: Trevor Sikkema/PR
With the defending Super Bowl champions typically kicking off the season by hosting the initial Thursday Night Football game, the NFL also has a Monday Night Football double-header on the first week of the season with the first game usually featuring an East Coast host team, starting at 7:10 p.m. ET, and the second game, which features a West Coast host team, kicking off at 10:20 p.m. ET.
While teams like the Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, and the Arizona Cardinals would be candidates to host the second double-header game on Monday Night Football, the league has recently favored the Raiders when it comes to Monday Night Football, where Gruden was a popular broadcaster for nine years from 2009-17.
The Bucs didn’t have a Monday Night Football game last year, and lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 30-27, in their last appearance, which was in Week 3 of the 2018 campaign.
Oakland appeared on Monday Night Football twice in 2018, including Gruden’s return to football in Oakland in a season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the second game of the double-header. Last year, the Raiders also opened the season on Monday Night Football with a win against Denver as the second game of the double-header.
The Raiders could make it three years in a row on Monday Night Football’s season-opener by virtue of their new stadium, and a Gruden rematch against his old team, the Buccaneers, and Bruce Arians’ high-powered offense might be too tempting for the NFL to pass up. Other teams that Las Vegas will host in 2020 are Buffalo, Miami, New Orleans and Indianapolis, along with AFC West division rivals Kansas City, Denver and the L.A. Chargers.
We’ll find out in a couple of months if the speculation becomes fact and the Bucs indeed hit the road and travel to Sin City to start 2020 against the Raiders and the coach that has the most wins in Tampa Bay history and helped the organization win Super Bowl XXXVII, or if the NFL goes in a different direction with its Monday Night Football season opener.