With all due respect to Hank Williams Jr, the Suncoast might take a hard pass
On Thursday night, the truly hardcore football fan will get friends together. Some of those friends might be rambunctious, even rowdy. Certainly anyone who would be described in that manner would be invited.
Problematically, however, they might not quite be ready for some football. They may have had enough for the time being.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins open their preseasons in The Stadium Of Many Names in the Miami Area. Whether people watch it as a curiosity or to see football once again is up to them, but there will be people throughout Florida tuning in to see what happens.
The excitement that has accompanied the Buccaneers in the buildup to seasons recently is noticeably absent this season. A disappointing 2017, combined with an offseason that saw quarterback Jameis Winston suspended for the first three games of the upcoming season, just seemed to take all the air out of fans’ sails.
Pessimism abounds. The Buccaneers’ schedule is full of teams that give people far more cause for optimism than the Bucs do, and also the Cleveland Browns. National outlets, for whom the Bucs were a trendy “sleeper” pick just a year ago, have a dim view of the team and their future. Indeed, it is relatively rare to encounter somebody who is picking the Buccaneers to have a winning season, let alone making the playoff run many were predicting in 2017.
When people ask “what do you think of the Bucs this year,” they tend to be wincing when they say it, bracing themselves for another prediction of coming doom. Such projections are not hard to find, and what is considered optimism might vary from person to person. Where some were suggesting the Bucs could crank the win total up to eleven in 2017, a record approaching the treading-water mark of 8-8 could be considered optimism now.
The team addressed needs in the NFL Draft and free agency, but any optimism around that was tempered when first round pick Vita Vea strained a calf muscle. Injuries to the offensive line have made second round pick Ronald Jones a little more worrisome as well, as only Canton Material can run without blocking.
The National Forensics League
It isn’t just the Buccaneers that have the football fans of Tampa Bay a little less ready to receive all of their rowdy friends. Perhaps the last year of NFL news has just been too, well, newsy for many.
The last time the world heard good news involving football was when the city of Philadelphia miraculously survived the Eagles’ very first Super Bowl title. Some had wondered if that would be the end of the City of Brotherly Love, but it turned out that Independence Mall, Walnut Street, Manayunk and the rest of Philly powered through hordes of ecstatic Eagles fans fueled by adult beverages.
Since then, debates have raged. Debates over politics, over the very concept of patriotism, over the United States Constitution and more. This has not been good prep as we get ever closer to getting this thing started.
Consider that Tampa is as much a military town as you are going to find in the United States. MacDill casts quite the shadow, and that…