Welcome to The Hook, my weekly column that hooks you into a different Tampa Bay Buccaneers topic each Thursday, as well as some of my thoughts on the Bucs and the NFL at the end in a section called Cannon Blast.

I invite you to offer me some feedback on The Hook below in the article comments section.


These are strange days indeed.

Three months ago, the biggest concerns in the lives of most Bucs fans were whether or not Tampa Bay would bring quarterback Jameis Winston, would Tom Brady consider leaving New England to become a Buccaneer, and can Tampa Bay keep the nucleus of its defense intact?

Bucs QB Tom Brady
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The last thing anyone expected was a possible interruption – or cancellation – of a season.

Now here we are almost halfway through June and we now have to wonder, will there even be a 2020 football season? And if so, what will it look like?

While the answers are unclear, the one thing is certain is – it won’t be like anything we have even seen before.

Unless you were alive in 1918 during the Spanish Flu pandemic. And I’m venturing to guess no one reading this column was even a thought at that point.

So far, all indications are the NFL season will happen. At least that is the plan.

But with COVID-19 cases beginning to spike in some states with re-openings of businesses and relaxed distancing policies, and what scientists and doctors feel could be a second wave of cases as we move into the fall, there are no guarantees.

With the recent racial tensions in the country and the number of protests seen scattered in nearly every U.S. state, most feel we will inevitably see a surge in cases.

But what if there isn’t a significant spike? That bodes well for fans being able to attend games in the fall. At least in some capacity.

And playing football in the the open air stadium like Raymond James Stadium in Tampa and TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville would most likely be more conducive to limiting exposure. But what about cities that have domed stadiums in Atlanta or New Orleans?

Photo by: Getty Images

Locally here in the Tampa Bay area, we have a few things going for is in our favor. A warmer climate, and the before mentioned open air stadium and the two biggest factors. While it isn’t entirely clear if warmer weather plays a factor in this particular virus slowing down, it does make a difference in seasonal flu and other respiratory ailments.

If a vaccine is developed, and if it is proven to be successful, the chance it would be really to be rolled out before the early part of 2021 is very slim. The good news, according to reports, is that there are at least 160 different vaccines in development right now globally. And some of those have already begin Phase III, which means they are being tested on humans. There is a good chance a vaccine will be developed and could be the saving grace of sports moving forward, but as noted, the likelihood of it benefiting humans before 2021 is very slim.

The Spanish Flu pandemic began in January of 1918 but didn’t end until December of 1920.

One hope of the NFL and other sports leagues moving forward would be proven treatments that limit the duration and severity of the virus. When a person tests positive for the seasonal flu, medications like Tamiflu, Relenza and Rapivab have been proven to shorten the severity and duration and lessen complications. So far there has been no definitive treatments for COVID-19, although studies are being conducted throughout the world on antiviral medications that are already on the market that could possibly be game-changers.

Another hope is the development of testing that would come with a rapid result. Could a test that gives results in as little as 20 minutes be the key to fans being able to watch games in person? Several companies are in the process of developing these rapid result tests.

Of course then there is the logistics of trying to perform 60,000 plus tests before games each Sunday. Perhaps the NFL would require some sort of negative test result certification from a health care provider that had to have been conducted 24-48 hours prior to entering a stadium.

Photo by: Getty Images

For the media that gets to cover games, we are already beginning to realize our job will be done much differently in 2020. We already know fans won’t be attending training camp practices, but what about the media?

And if we can attend camp at the AdventHealth Training Center, in what capacity? One reporter from each outlet? Maybe two? The answer is unclear at this point. But most likely the daily 45 minute open locker room periods will be a thing of the past – at least in 2020.

If the NFL is able to play, and can keep a 53-man roster, 20 coaches, 25 other support staff members relatively healthy with daily or weekly testing, all it would take is one sick or contagious media member spreading the virus to a player who could infect a whole meeting room. And before you know it half the team is sick, in a 14-day quarantine and two weeks of games would be canceled or postponed.

Instead what we likely see is what we have come to know over the last couple of months, and that is a lot of Zoom call media scrums. Not the best way to get individual or unique content or stories, but likely a necessary evil.

The NFL recently released guidelines for opening and welcoming back players to the facility, but some of the requirements will create major headaches for teams, including re-configuring locker rooms to keep players separated by six feet. During the season nearly every locker space at One Buc is in use when adding together the 53-man roster and the practice squad players. This requirement will almost certainly mean additional locker space will have to be added.

Tampa Bay has room to do so at the AdventHealth Training Center, and at Raymond James Stadium, but what about other teams? I’ve been in some super cramped locker rooms on the road. Some stadiums will literally have to expand and remodel their locker room space.

If fans are allowed in to watch games in 2020, don’t wait until 15 minutes to kickoff before walking up to the gates. If you do, you might not get in before halftime. Expect social distancing to be mandatory before you enter the venue, and that would most likely include a brief heath questionnaire and a temperature check. If you thought security checks were a hindrance in the past, you likely haven’t seen anything yet.

We’re in a different world now because of COVID-19. We will get through it, we always do, but things will look a lot different as we arrive.

In the meantime, wash your hands, avoid risky situations and unnecessary large crowds and keep your fingers crossed we will see football in some capacity this fall.

CANNON BLAST

Cook’s musings and ramblings about the Buccaneers and the NFL. Good stuff. Check it out.

If the AdventHealth Training Center is off limits to media members this year, what a bummer from a personal standpoint. How am I going to convince Rob Gronkowski to join me for an episode of What’s Cooking?

Bucs TE Rob Gronkowski
Bucs TE Rob Gronkowski – Photo by: Getty Images

In two years of doing the meaningless show that has never seen anyone actually cook anything, the Cam Brate shows have been voted the best in the series. Well, not really voted, but the ones I thought were the best. But Gronkowski could have stolen the title from Brate with is quirky, frat boy personality.

Check out Brate’s 2018 appearance below in the Last Laugh section that has been voted (by me) the best episode in the history What’s Cooking.

• Speaking of Gronkowski, hats off to him and the Buccaneers organization for donating money to but equipment for Blake High School after the school lost all of its football equipment in a recent fire.

• On a more serious note, Bucs CB Carlton Davis joined the media on Wednesday and just previous to the call had posted on social media about some of his personal experiences with racial profiling by law enforcement. On the call, Davis shared his thoughts on all that is going on in our country currently and it was eye opening to hear and read his story.

I don’t have any answers for the racial inequality that happens daily in our country, but I do think listening to others is helpful. And not just listening, but hearing. Everyone wants to talk and can’t wait to pipe in with what they think, but if we take a minute to listen and more importantly hear what others are saying, we can have a better understanding all the way around in this country.

LAST LAUGH

My favorite episode we’ve done. The Alan Cross and Ryan Griffin ones were also a couple of my favorites. You can catch up on all of the past episodes on our Pewter Report YouTube channel here.

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, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. 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 [email protected]
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surferdudes

So let me get this straight, the players have to be six feet apart in the locker room, but can go face to face in the trenches? Going to be hard staying six feet apart if there’s a fumble! lol. Makes sense to me?

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BucNnole

Exactly. That is so illogical it is asinine.If people want to attend sporting events they should be allowed to make that choice. People have been able to gather by the thousands for the last two weeks protesting and no one stopped them. Why? Because it is their right to do so. As such we should be allowed to go to football games this fall if we so choose. I along with a good majority of people are tired of hearing about this crap. I am most anxious that we finally got the GOAT and I may not even get to… Read more »

Dave

Exactly! First the ridiculous 180 in advice we’ve gotten over the last 3 months. It started with don’t wear masks unless you’re sick, to everyone needs to wear a mask. Then it was everyone needs to stay home, to studies show that very few cases were transmitted indoors. Now finally the big one. We can’t ever open anything up, have any sports, have any large crowds, or go anywhere without a mask because we don’t know who’s asymptomatic infecting everyone, to studies show that it’s very rare for an asymptomatic person to infect other people. State and government officials are… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave
scubog

I couldn’t have said it better Dave. What I’ve learned these past 4-5 months is that the so-called “experts” from whom we rely on for accurate information, on which we can base decisions about our own lives, don’t appear to know any more than Bill Parcel’s neighbor. [Bill’s quip about Drafting prowess}   We “lowered the curve” by taking steps never before enacted and then once we accomplished it, they just decided to keep it all going (moved the goal line) for who knows why for 98% of the population. People who lack vitamin D, older folks already infirmed, frail… Read more »

Dave

1000% agree scubog! I know there will always be people that live their life in fear. Nothing will ever change that. But I can say, just by reading my fb now, versus 2 months ago, there is a monumental shift in how people view covid. Nobody is afraid anymore. Everyone is willing to back to normal, and assume the risk. If they get it, they get it. The overwhelming fear and patience is over. I even see it in places I go. This tiny ice cream place near my house, is packed to the brim every day, lines down the… Read more »

Naplesfan

There is nothing in the least that is ridiculous about learning, through trial and error, how to fight a pandemic involving a brand new strain of virus that has proven itself a deadly killer. 2 plus million confirmed cases in the US, with more than 116 thousand confirmed deaths, with unanimous agreement amongst all public health experts that the actual death toll is somewhere between 50% and 100% higher than the confirmed death toll due to obvious otherwise unexplainable upticks in total death rates.   Expected death toll in the US for the rest of this year is, even before… Read more »

toucan

There are still people wigged out that this virus will kill them. Let them remain in their homes the rest of their lives.That is their choice.The rest of us will live our lives the “old normal” way.

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Naplesfan

There is a Constitutional right to demonstrate in public and peaceably gather for the purpose of free speech, it’s called the First Amendment.
 
There is no Constitutional right to attend sporting events.
 
Apparently you skated through your ninth grade civics course.

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Dave

What in any way shape or form does constitutional rights have to do with attending games, or anything that he or I said?

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Last edited 29 days ago by Dave
BucNnole

Completely agree Dave! is a dumbass and I have never once respected his opinion on this site. He completely took what I said out of context. Surprise Surprise.

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seat26

Are the players going to be wearing masks on the field? The coaches too? Trainers? How will they manage the vendors in the stadium? Or the escalators? Maybe the best route is to cancel fan attendance through the Preseason, and see where the teams are as far as infections after training camp. If they blow this, the Season will be lost. I think there is still a chance they get to play most of the Season, if they manage this.

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Dave

Well rather than asking all these teams to reconstruct their entire locker rooms to be spaced 6 feet apart. Maybe they’re just going to do what MLS is doing. Which is have the players all parked outside, sitting in their cars. And 1 at a time they go in, get their temperature checked, nasal swabbed, get changed, and then head right onto the field. And then the next player comes in. Granted, that’s also a gigantic pain in the butt, that’s much more reasonable. Players will have to come probably an hour earlier than normal, but outside some extra time,… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave
Naplesfan

As always, the politically reactionary COVID deniers are out in force in the comments section, still ridiculously pretending that COVID is no big deal and that it’s all been a hoax. You and your favored politicians will not survive the November elections, politically speaking, while ignoring hundreds of thousands of dead Americans already, and hundreds of thousands more to come later this year.   COVID infection rates and hospitalizations both are spiking in half the country – mostly in states run by the red crowd. A fall spike is guaranteed.   Football is the least of our concerns at the… Read more »

Dave

You’re a clown, and I’m literally not reading a single word you have to say. To you and any other tool that tries to convince anyone that there won’t be a season or drag politics into this. See you on this forum in September after week 1

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toucan

This crap has to go. Let personal freedom of choice determine attendance.People attended games in the past without much concern during flu season.We cannot let allow government and the egg head bureaucrats tell us what is good for us. This is a bad trend.

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Vinsane38

There are a lot of comments with a lot of truth in them. A quick recap and thoughts if I may: None knows everything. Not viruses, investments, or any complex system. Many experts are trying the best they can, few are evil. There is a constitutional right to assembly, not sure if that has been applied to a sports event tho. It is the private league or team’s choice to create whatever rules they desire, and we free citizens choose if we want to play by the rules to watch in person. It is Vitamin D synthesize from the sun… Read more »

Runole

just the factual stats for Florida and Hillsborough county
 
as of today
 
current Covid stats Florida
1,409,992 tested 94.7% tested negative 5.3% positive
death percentage from tested .208 % or 2.1 per 1000 tested
death percentage for testing positive 3.97% lowest since early May
 
Hillsborough
99 deaths for a population of 1.5 million
 
death rate for testing positive = 2.98%
hospitalization if tested positive =14.72%
death rate if hospitalized 18.6%

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