When the 2002-2003 NFL Season came to a close the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were Super Bowl Champions for the first time, and so far for the only time. If you’re under the age of 18 you weren’t even born when it happened, which means you’ve never seen successful post-season football for your favorite franchise.
Bucs linebacker Devin White was just shy of his fifth-birthday, Mike Evans was a nine-year old dreaming of an NFL career - probably, “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” was one of the top grossing movies in theaters that month, “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera was the best song in America, and Tom Brady had just 10,233 of his current career 76,481 passing yards and missed the playoffs with the New England Patriots.
That’s how long it’s been since Tampa Bay won a championship, and that’s how long it’s been since they were playing in a season which started with a 6-2 record. There have been a handful of 5-3 starts, but zero 6-2 starts since the 2002-2003 season for the Buccaneers.
Granted, 6-2 doesn’t guarantee a championship by any means, but it does mean a win over the New York Giants tonight will give an entire generation of Bucs fans an experience they’ve yet to have.
There’s a good chance it’ll happen too, as the Buccaneers are nearly two touchdown favorites heading into this week’s contest.
For Bucs fans who have seen the 5-3 starts, there is a bit of understandable trepidation. They’ve entered the back half of the season with winning feelings and high aspirations before just to have their hearts broken time and time again.
This season does look different though. Not just the potential record in the standings, but the way they’ve gotten to the record. This has some of those burned fans re-ignited once again, and more excited than ever to see what the future might hold.
For now, it holds a prime time matchup against the New York Giants, and a chance to win more than any Tampa Bay Buccaneers team has since the best season this franchise has ever experienced.