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How I learned to stop worrying and love the Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a great team, and I'll never tire of watching them. I learned that by watching the 49ers and Broncos.

Streeter Lecka

Ticketmaster wants me to talk about unique game day experiences. It's an interesting question, and I'm going to answer it in a different way than I usually do: by talking about when I realized that watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a great thing, regardless of how they play. This happened in London.

Twice I saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play a regular season game in London, which happened in 2009 and 2011. It wasn't unique because it was a brilliant experience, but it was certainly unique for other reasons.

The spectacle surrounding the game is huge, with large events throughout London, people in NFL jerseys everywhere, and hype everywhere. But the game itself is...odd. It's filled with people who aren't particularly affiliated with either team.

One Bears fan complained to me in 2011 that there were no Bears flags planted anywhere -- the stadium was pre-filled with Bucs flags, instead. He complained about that at an event that was, at least nominally, a home game for the Bucs. But the international, non-affiliated audience makes it easy to imagine that the ground is purely neutral. And the wave that circles around the stadium several times per game exemplifies that: people are there for the NFL experience more than the teams themselves.

I experienced that when I went to London in 2010, for the game between the Broncos and 49ers. I didn't really care who would win. Neither did most of the audience, it seemed. I got to see Tim Tebow score a touchdown, and I saw a missed extra point -- that one event probably jolted the audience more than anything else. It was gimmicky. It wasn't particularly interesting. But it also taught me something:

NFL games with no rooting interest are impossible to watch.

So I'm always glad when the Bucs play actual, real football games. Even when they're awful. Even when I go into a game expecting them to lose. Because at least I'll get to root for someone, experience the excitement of a hope for a win (however brief), and watch my favorite team play football.