Your football team is a national darling right now, but it won’t last forever.
You’re in your prime time as a fan.
It is here – for now – so soak in every minute.
Trust me, I know all about being a fan of a team that becomes a media sensation. One that the headlines transcend from the local papers and websites to a daily topic of conversation from the talking heads on the four-letter networks.
I remember the 1979 Buccaneers team that had risen from a complete joke – starting 0-26 – to winning the NFC Central and playing for a NFC title, just four years removed from being an expansion team. While there was no SportsCenter or NFL Network, that 1979 year was magical.
As the team won it was the lead story in all of the newspapers like the Tampa Tribune, The St. Petersburg Times and The Lakeland Ledger. The Bucs made Sports Illustrated. And not for all the wrong reasons like they had in the past.
I can still remember the cover – Tampa Bay, Unbeaten, Untied, Unbelievable.
For me it was unreal.
Channel 13 was the CBS affiliate back then, which had the rights to the NFC, so Andy Hardy led nearly every Pulse 13 sports cast off with Buccaneers news. The morning radio shows all talked about the Bucs. Everywhere you went you saw people wearing the creamsicle Bucco Bruce logo that just a couple years earlier would have gotten you laughed out of the local Bonanza Steak House or your neighborhood Zayre.
It happened fast, but it didn’t last.
Like with most good things in our lives, we expect good times to last forever. Th 1979 Bucs magic soon turned into a 5-10-1 season in 1980, but was then followed up with two consecutive playoffs years.
Then 1983 came and the wheels feel off the Bucs’ bus.
A decade and a half of bad losing football came and a whole generation of But fans were lost. You didn’t dare wear your orange and white out in public.
Things final turned around with the arrival of Tony Dungy in 1996 and some excellent drafts that included John Lynch, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks just before Dungy’s arrival. The 1997 season was very similar to that 1979 season where the Bucs started off the season hot (5-0) and ended up with 10 wins.
Then 2002 came along, and with the help of Jon Gruden, Tampa Bay achieved what many Bucs fans thought would never happen – a world championship. As dominating as the Bucs were on that Sunday evening against the Raiders in San Diego, there was no dynasty to follow. A handful of playoff teams came and went over the next six seasons but then the wheels fell off that bus too, and the Buccaneers were mired in mediocrity for another decade.
Trust me, I was there to witness it in person.
The 10-game losing streak that cost Raheem Morris his job in 2011. Mr. “toes-on-the-line” Greg Schiano, who once kicked the media out of a weekday practice because we were being too loud. True story.
The rise then crash and burn of former first-round pick Josh Freeman. Mike Glennon running out of bounds on third down late in a game against Seattle.
The drafting of Jameis Winston No. 1 overall in 2015. Lovie Smith and his “We weren’t Tennessee ready” cast of players that year. The drafting of a second-round kicker. Dirk Koetter throwing Bit O’ Honey candies to the media in a press conference a couple weeks before he was fired.
These are just a handful of the memories over the last 10 years. I’ve got plenty more that I try not to think about.
Sick to your stomach yet, Bucs fans?
But this all brings me back to the main point.
It’s your time now.
After the disaster of the previous 12 years, the half empty stadiums, the often not competitive games, you deserved this.
You deserved Bruce Arians to be hired as your head coach. You deserved Tom Brady as your quarterback. You deserved Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Shaq Barrett, JPP and Ryan Succop on your team.
You deserved Jason Licht and Mike Greenberg bringing back all 22 Super Bowl starters and then some. You deserved to get revenge on the Saints in the playoffs last season. You deserved an epic Scotty Miller touchdown catch right before halftime in Green Bay. And you deserved a Super Bowl in your home stadium. You deserved a boat parade.
Bucs GM Jason Licht and QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today
But don’t think it will just keep happening. Don’t just expect that Arians coaches another decade and Brady plays until he is 50. Don’t assume when you turn on Good Morning Football in the morning that Kay Adams will start shows by talking about your team forever.
If you are a long-time sports fan you already know. The good times seem to take forever to get here but then burn away faster than a piece of stray Chinese rocket as it enters back to Earth.
Soak it in, Bucs fans. Enjoy the ride and savor every moment. Don’t take a second for granted.
You deserved it – and still do.
Table of Contents
• I once had a teacher at Turkey Creek Junior High School tell my class in 1984, the older you get the more names you will recognize in the obituary page every day.
Boy, he wasn’t kidding.
Last year the Bucs family lost former coach Sam Wyche and linebacker David Lewis, and the year before that, running back Reggie Cobb. There have been number of others I grew up watch play football for the Buccaneers who have passed on.
This week we learned of the passing of linebacker Eugene Marve. While likely more known in NFL circles for his six seasons with the Bills than the four in Tampa Bay (1988-1992), Marve was a solid player for the Bucs during an awful streak of losing football. He deserves to have his passing and contributions noted by the Tampa Bay community.
Marve is survived by his wife, Stacey, son, Robert, and daughter, Rebecca.
• Our Pewter Report Podcast with Bruce Arians last week generated a ton of national attention as Arians is always candid and doesn’t hold back very much. That is one of the things that makes him so endearing to Bucs fans. The Super Bowl win doesn’t hurt either.
But part of that national attention came via The Pat McAfee Show. I love Pat’s show but c’mon, Pat. You didn’t know pewter was a color?
• Our friends at The Loose Cannons Podcast love to debate whether ranch or blue cheese dressing is best with your chicken wings. Then of course there is the debate – drums or flats? All this chicken wing debate, yet no one is talking about the most important chicken debate – over easy or scrambled eggs? Or even more debatable, white meat or dark meat?
I realize this has nothing to do with football, so don’t mind me. But for the record, if you need a sauce to dip your wings in then you aren’t eating very good wings to begin with. You can’t mix in a scrambled egg with your grits then sop up the juice with a biscuit. Dark meat has superior flavor to bland white meat – or fried cardboard, as I call a chicken breast.
No lies detected.
So much wasted talent. More losing than you can ever imagine. A plethora of number 1 draft picks. Not a single Super Bowl win.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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