Yesterday, a phenomenon returned - one that hadn't surfaced in Tampa for some time, while being a mainstay a couple of decades before. An innovative (and cheap) fashion statement: the paper bag.
Nothing screams "we demand change" more than fans with paper bags. Nothing is worse for a franchise's public image than fans with bags on their heads. And nothing screams "the fans stopped caring" more than paper-bagged spectators. Sure, they're there and still paying for their seats, but for every fan who cares enough to show up with a paper bag many more stay at home.
This was clearly in evidence last night, when the stadium was filled with Dallas Cowboys fans. That shouldn't have surprised anyone, as the Bucs have struggled to sell tickets for years, but must be a concern for the owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
That kind of apathy among the fans could prompt the Glazers to make some major changes.
Raheem Morris' job is in danger. After eight straight losses, including three straight embarrassing blowouts, this should not be a surprise. We've talked about this for weeks now, and with each loss and each embarrassment it's less and less likely that the Bucs decide to keep Raheem Morris. That despite reports that the Bucs were considering keeping Raheem Morris and hiring a defensive coordinator.
No one knows what the Glazers will do, or why they do anything. However, the fan reaction to their product has to be a concern for them, and could lead them to do some drastic things. While Raheem Morris' tenure seems to be coming to an end, Mark Dominik has to be concerned as well. Dominik's biggest failings have come in free agency, while he's done a good job drafting talent. But this kind of disgust among fans almost demands a response from ownership.
More likely, the Bucs will try to energize the fanbase in a different way. They could go after a big name coach, or try to lure a well-known free agent to Tampa. While that isn't their usual M.O. the Glazers must be feeling this lack of fan support in their wallets, and that could prompt them to do some things they usually don't.
Of course, doing what the fans want isn't always the best way to succeed in the NFL. Dan Snyder can tell you all about that, as could the Packers, who faced widespread derision when they hired the offensive coordinator of the worst offense in the NFL as head coach, traded Brett Favre two years later and built their team on youth and through the draft rather than spending big bucks in free agency.
But when your team is selling out every home game, you can ignore fan complaints. When there are 10,000 open seats and fans wearing paper bags, it's a lot harder to ignore the fans.