Running backs Mike Alstott (left) and Warrick Dunn will display their skills before a national preseason audience on August 20
Tampa's August climate is not what one would typically call 'football weather'. Still, it's a good bet that many hometown Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans will come in from the beach on Sunday, August 20, to get an early look at the team that has inspired so much hope for the 2000 season. The Bucs will play at New England in their third preseason contest of the year that Sunday, and the club announced on Monday that the game will be televised nationally by Fox.
Unlike regular season games, most preseason contests are carried by local networks in each team's home town. However, Fox has chosen Tampa Bay's visit to the New England Patriots at Foxboro Stadium on August 20 as one of 11 NFL preseason games that will be shown to a national audience. The contest is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. EDT.
The Buccaneers last appeared in a nationally-televised pre-season game in 1988, when they lost 14-13 to the Miami Dolphins on an August 13 ESPN telecast. The Bucs also played in the Hall of Fame Game that season in Canton, Ohio, which is broadcast across the country.
Several factors indicate that Fox made a good decision to select the Bucs' game at New England for their national audience. Tampa Bay has played New England four times previously in the preseason and has scored over 40 points in each of the last three tilts. After a 17-16 loss to New England in 1981, Tampa Bay has followed with three straight wins: 41-21 in 1983, 44-10 in 1990 and 45-14 last year in Raymond James Stadium. In addition, the Bucs put on a show in '98's Hall of Fame Game, pounding Pittsburgh 30-6.
The Bucs open the preseason at home on Friday, August 4 with a visit from the Washington Redskins, then travel to Miami on Thursday, August 10. After their national preview, Tampa Bay will return to Raymond James Stadium to conclude the preseason against the Kansas City Chiefs. The regular season starts the following weekend, though the NFL has not yet released specific game dates or times.