Now, let me begin by saying that this is an opinion piece. Obviously I can't speak for all Tampa Bay fans. Everything related here is heard from talking to co-workers and friends of mine. Most of which are pretty much in the same age range and income level. Twenty to thirty somethings with a moderate amount of disposable income. With that being said, I can't remember when being a Bucs fan was ever this insufferable.
Obviously I wasn't around for the Culverhouse days, which I realize was much worse. At least the Glazers have a history of winning, and there is hope we can return to those days. I'm speaking of the current state of the Buccaneer fans in my generation. Many of us have tuned out over the past few weeks. It's just become unbearable to watch. Who wants to watch a "game" with this team playing in it? I put game in quotes because I'm not really sure we can call them that anymore. Dictionary.com lists a definition of game as:
A competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators.
It's the chance part that gets me thinking. Why have so many people tuned out this year? In my opinion it's simply because the outcome of the game is usually not in question. We pretty much know what we're going to see before we see it. The Bucs will most likely come out slow. The offense will sputter. The opposing team will shove the ball down the defense's throats while everyone in a Buccaneer jersey will do their best impression of Deion Sanders making a "tackle". We'll quickly get behind and abandon the run. Freeman will throw underneath for a few first downs in garbage time. Connor Barth may or may not get to kick an extra point in the fourth quarter, once the outcome is no longer a question (if it ever was to begin with for some of us).
When was the last time the outcome of a game was even in question after the half? It doesn't matter who we are playing against. Blow outs by a three win Jacksonville team and the Panthers put many of us over the edge. I don't want to say people are jumping ship, but they're certainly tuning out. Obviously they aren't going to start rooting for other teams or anything. They're still out there, but they aren't throwing remotes at their TVs anymore. They're just apathetic. They have become desensitized to the atrocities we see weekly.
What can peak their interest again? What can put butts back in the seats in Tampa Bay? Read my top five ways the team can get most of the fans back on board the ship after the jump.
I think there a five things that would get many of us on board and excited for next season.
1. Fire the coaching staff.
Unfortunately, Raheem Morris is going to have to fall on the sword for this season. I say unfortunately because I generally like the man, and I think he was a victim of his own ambition. Thinking he could coach up the league's youngest defense and be the youngest head coach of the leagues youngest team was admirable, but ultimately misguided. Many people saw the writing on the wall, but I admit I was along for the ride. I'm very disappointed it didn't work out, but it's time to move forward, and Morris and Olson must walk the plank.
2. Admit the lack of free agent acquisitions was wrong.
I think it's very important for Mark Dominik to make a public statement that he will be more open to bringing in veteran talent moving forward. Many people feel that the Bucs are being cheap and scraping the bottom of the barrel in the talent department. Two or three quality free agent acquisitions will silence those critics immediately and generate some excitement (albeit short lived) going into next season. If the "plan" goes on as is, I don't see many people tuning back in next season. There's just too much frustration in the area. A clear and precise effort to shift public perception of the team's direction needs to be made.
3. Reach out to the community.
This area loves the Buccaneers. We had a twelve year sellout streak for heavens sake. The fans and the love are there. The Glazers just need to open their arms and welcome them back in. Run some season ticket promotions that offer something in return for the fan's investment besides just a seat and a parking pass. Take a page out of the Lightning's playbook and copy their jersey program. For those of you that don't know, all Lightning full season ticket holders receive a home jersey embedded with a microchip in the sleeve that gives them a 25% discount on concessions and a 35% discount of merchandise within the stadium. How cool is that?
I wish the Glazers would acknowledge that this area is in economic meltdown and lower ticket prices across the board. Offering garbage seats for $35 a game isn't really doing anyone any favors, especially when those tickets are often the first ones to sell out and all the remaining seats are $100+. Parking fees also need to be revised. Paying $25 to walk a mile to the stadium is not desirable. It's actually ridiculous. You can buy a twelve pack of beer and a dozen wings for less than it takes to pay for parking at Raymond James Stadium. There's a serious disconnect there and it echoes with many fans.
4. Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.
The old adage is true. Right now the Glazers need to seriously consider bringing in an offensive guru when hiring their new head coach and/or offensive coordinator. Putting an exciting product on the field would seriously reinvigorate the fan base in my opinion. Defense does indeed win championships and defensive talent should be accrued via the draft AND free agency in the offseason, but one dynamic playmaker and an exciting new offensive system with the pieces the Bucs already have in place would get a lot of people excited and watching again. Some would argue that winning will make them come, and for the most part this is true, but I think an immediate boost in attendance and fan interest should be the teams number one priority this offseason.
5. Revamp team image.
Whether or not it's justified is certainly up for debate, but many people's perception of the Buccaneers is that the team is full of thugs and degenerates. The fact that Aqib Talib, Tanard Jackson, and Legarrette Blount suit up for this team drives many fans toward apathy. These players all have negative press in their past, and nothing has been done by the front office or the players to improve their image. Show us their good sides. Drafting stand up guys like Josh Freeman and Gerald McCoy are steps in the right direction, but ten good deeds are washed away by one bad one in the modern day NFL. One negative headline will dominate the media's focus for days on end, while a positive blurb will most likely go unreported. The front office must combat this by constantly blitzing us with positive stories. A sacrificial lamb like Talib will most likely have to be offered up to appease most fans as well.
What do you think Bucs Nation? Can you think of anything that isn't listed that would get people excited again? Do you think the solutions offered in this article would make a difference? Join the discussion below.