The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a special visitor speak to the team on Tuesday night. Champion golfer Tiger Woods met with the Bucs players and coaches, and addressed the team. Head coach Jon Gruden likes to bring in top athletes and coaches to meet with the team and offer the Bucs some advice and inspiration.
In the past, Gruden has had numerous legends visit the team including Hall of Fame defensive lineman Deacon Jones and Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh. This year Gruden was able to bring in Woods, who received a huge welcome from the Bucs players.
"I was pleased to meet Tiger Woods last night," said Gruden. "That was very exciting. … I'm president of his fan club. He spoke to the team and had the chance to visit with a lot of the players. If you ask me – and it's just my opinion – he's global. He is the number one superstar in all of sports – at least on my list. He hits all the shots all the time. He's got complete mental control. He's unbelievable. Hopefully some of that rubs off on us. He's high-class character and a great role model for just about every phase of life. I can't say enough about him. I better stop at this point. I can't comment for everybody, but he didn't say a lot – or at least he didn't last night. He was cordial. He was polite. He was outgoing with the players. I think everybody gained something – at least I did. I'll treasure that the rest of my life. [His rehab] is going well. Nobody is going to outwork that guy. What an inspiring guy. It was awesome."
One Bucs player has a bit of a history with Woods, and that is tight end Alex Smith. Both Woods and Smith went to Stanford, and in college Smith met the golfer. Woods met with the Stanford football team during Smith's freshman year. Last night when Woods came into the team meeting he was wearing a Stanford shirt. Pewter Report asked Smith if it made him proud to see Woods showing off the Stanford colors.
"Definitely, it gave me a chance to stick my chest out a little higher and can say: ‘that is a Stanford alum,'" said Smith. "There aren't too many of us around so anytime you see a fellow Stanford compadre it makes you feel good. We haven't had the greatest football program in the world. But Tiger Woods is probably one of the most dominant players to ever walk the face of the Earth, so anytime you can claim him as being one of your alumni that is a big statement to make."
While the Bucs players and coaches were all fans of Woods, the champion golfer turns out to be a Bucs fan. Smith told Pewter Report that Woods talked about being a Bucs fan in his talk to the team.
"He is a big fan," said Smith. "[Woods said] that he continues to watch us and is a big supporter. Just to know that he is coming to the games and checking us out makes us feel good."
"He is [a Bucs fan]. He's come to a few games and he is from the area so he tries to get out as often as he can, so I guess so."
According to Smith and many others, Woods dropping by training camp was a big inspiration to the team.
"You don't get the chance to meet many people who are so dominant in their field," said Smith. "And then watch them walk through your door. Someone of his caliber who took the time out of his schedule to meet with us makes us feel good."
BUCS QUOTES ON TIGER WOODS' VISIT TO THE TEAM
LINEBACKER CATO JUNE "It was great. Being around a global athlete, not just a national figure, but he is a global icon in sports, probably one of the biggest icons ever. To have him around the team it was great feeling to be around an athlete like that … His message was to keep working hard. He said that he can deal with physical errors but he can't deal with mental errors. He said that everybody is going to have a physical error from time to time, but mentally you can't go out there and make those mistakes."
LINEBACKER RYAN NECE "It was cool, man. Tiger Woods is arguably the best athlete in the world … in the world! Not just in Tampa, not just in the United States, but in the world. We asked him a question in the linebacker room about how he deals with mistakes. Athletes always have to deal with mistakes. He talked about his focus and the things he does to prepare himself to not make mistakes. It was really applicable to some of the stuff we do on the football field. He talked about how mental mistakes are really inexcusable. He does those practice rounds and he studies courses and he studies his shots so that when he is in a match, he knows what he needs to hit. Mentally, if he doesn't make the right decision, that's on him. He said that physically, we're all going to make mistakes because we're human. There are going to be mistakes on the football field that you physically can't control. But all of the mental aspects you can control. Us linebackers always pride ourselves on not having mental mistakes. That's Tiger Woods. For him to take five minutes out of his time and his schedule to come in and talk to us and wish us the best and offer his support of us – that means a lot. You know his schedule and his rehab. He was very impressive. He's an NFL fan. He came in wearing his Stanford shirt and Alex Smith thought he was his best friend." DEFENSIVE BACKS COACH RAHEEM MORRIS "As NFL guys, we don't get star-struck much, but when you get a Tiger Woods come in who is the best at what he does, it's unbelievable. If you can pick his brain a little bit, which I know Ronde did and some of the linebackers did, it was awesome. He was giving some messages last night. The one thing that caught everybody's attention was about never having a mental breakdown. You can have a physical breakdown, but he'll never have a mental breakdown. That caught everybody's attention. He says he has a certain amount of hours to prepare and that if he has a mental breakdown, it's his fault because he wasn't prepared. Physical breakdowns happen. Everybody's human. But mental breakdowns should never happen if you study. That's why Ronde Barber and Derrick Brooks and those guys are great players." SAFETY SABBY PISCITELLI "I was walking around talking about it this morning – ‘You don't understand, Tiger Woods was in our meeting room last night!' It was amazing. There are only a couple of athletes in my generation that I would like to meet, but he's one of them. He is one of the most dominant athletes of my era and probably ever. It was surreal. It was crazy. You look at him and you are just wowed. It was a tremendous honor to meet Tiger Woods." RUNNING BACKS COACH AND SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR RICH BISACCIA "For me, the two global names in my lifetime certainly are Muhammad Ali and Tiger Woods. For him to walk in the running back room and see all of running backs scramble to get their camera phones and take pictures with him. For guys Warrick Dunn, Earnest Graham, Michael Bennett and B.J. Askew – those type of people – to want to get their picture taken with him was really something. I don't watch golf much. I don't know a lot about it. But I do watch the Golf Channel late at night after he does his rounds and the questions they ask him – I told him that his articulation about every hole and the practice work he put in on every round, it almost brings it to life to hear him talk about it when I didn't see him play. He came back at me and said that it was just like coaching and remembering plays. He was just exciting to be around. He really fit right in with us. It was certainly a pleasure and an honor to meet a guy like that. Tiger Woods is Tiger Woods – you know what I mean?" RUNNING BACK MICHAEL BENNETT "I don't know how it feels to meet God, but to be able to meet Tiger Woods … I just gave him a hug. Man, this is Tiger Woods! I just met the greatest athlete of all-time. For him to come out and go around to our meeting rooms and give us a message – and he's got a bum knee – it just shows you what type of person he is. To come out and give us some words of encouragement … most guys don't get to meet. The only time you see this guy is on TV because you can't get within 80 feet of him out in public because of all the people screaming his name. To get a picture with him and to have a conversation with him, stuff like that makes this the training camp of all training camps. It's still on my mind. I woke up this morning thinking, ‘I met Tiger Woods!' It was a great feeling and one of the things I will always cherish. He's in a world of his own. It took me by surprise. Coach Gruden said, ‘I've got a guy I want to bring in to speak to you' and I was thinking, ‘Okay, who the hell is this guy?' Then Tiger Woods walked in and I was like, ‘Holy [crap]!'"
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