On Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play their first night game at home since 2003, and it is expected to be a balmy evening. The early forecast for the Bucs' prime-time matchup with the Seattle Seahawks calls for humid temperatures in the 70s or 80s.
For most of the Buccaneer fans in attendance, however, it's going to feel about 40 all night long.
Tampa Bay will use Sunday night's game against the Seahawks to pay tribute to former fullback Mike Alstott, the man who made #40 the most popular jersey in town. Alstott retired last January after 12 seasons as a Buccaneer as the result of a second neck injury discovered during the team's 2007 training camp.
A six-time Pro Bowl selection and the only offensive player in team history to earn Associated Press first-team All-Pro honors, Alstott is undeniably one of the most accomplished and popular figures in franchise history. The Glazer Family, which purchased the Buccaneers just one year before Alstott's arrival in 1996, threw a gala party for Alstott and many former teammates and peers in March but also wanted to give Buccaneer fans a chance to honor one of their favorites.
While the entire evening will be decidedly Alstott-themed, the Bucs will pay special tribute to the former star back during a halftime ceremony. The game will also be preceded by a special nighttime flyover prior to kickoff, and all fans will receive a Mike Alstott commemorative gate giveaway. The event is sponsored by Buccaneers Pewter Partner Hess.
Alstott officially retired on January 24, 2008 at a press conference held at One Buccaneer Place. He entered the league as a second-round selection (35th overall) by the Buccaneers in the 1996 NFL Draft and was a key component in turning the franchise into a perennial contender. He owns club records for most touchdowns scored (71), most rushing touchdowns (58) and most Pro Bowl appearances by an offensive player (6).
Alstott also ranks second in team history with 5,088 rushing yards and third with 305 receptions. He is the franchise's all-time postseason leader with seven touchdowns, one of which was the opening TD in the Buccaneers' 48-21 win over the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
In eight of his 12 seasons, Alstott led or tied for the team lead in rushing touchdowns, including a career-high 10 scores in 2001. Twice during his career he rushed for a team-record-tying three touchdowns in a single game (vs. Minnesota, 10/28/01, and at Cincinnati, 12/27/98) and seven times he rushed for 100 or more yards, including a career-high 131 yards vs. Denver (9/26/99).
Alstott was not only the face of the franchise on the field, but he was, and will continue to be, a pillar in the Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg communities as well. His charitable efforts in the past have included hosting the Celebrity Outdoor Weekend benefiting the Children's Cancer Center, taking children in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Pinellas program fishing and working with The Angelus Group, The Joshua House and The Special Olympics. In the 2007 offseason, he and his wife Nicole formed the Mike Alstott Family Foundation with the goal of assisting in the uplifting of the minds, hearts and spirits of families and children on their way to realizing their full potential through various events, assistance programs and celebrations.