Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Catching a Flick

The Buccaneers had an interesting Thursday to end their week of OTA days, practicing at the stadium and then taking in a sneak preview of The Longest Yard

Buccaneer RBs Michael Pittman (left) and Jameel Cook were among the first in Tampa to see the Adam Sandler remake of The Longest Yard

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers started their work day with two hours of real football in front of 65,000 seats, most of them unoccupied. They finished it in the seats for another two hours, as spectators to a stylized but entertaining depiction of the same game.

It wasn't your typical "organized team activity day," and that's exactly what Head Coach Jon Gruden had in mind.

The Buccaneers were scheduled to expend the ninth of their 14 OTA days on Thursday, and they did just that with a typical on-field workout in the morning. What wasn't typical was the setting. In what has become something of a one-day spring tradition for the team, the Bucs practiced at Raymond James Stadium on Thursday, getting a feel for their home field.

That session wrapped up a few minutes after noon, after which the players bused back to team headquarters, squeezed in a quick round of treatment, showers and lunch and then got back on the bus. The afternoon destination was the AMC Theatres at Westshore Plaza, where they were treated to an advance screening of Adam Sandler's new movie, The Longest Yard.

Gruden, who has long seen the value in occasionally getting his players away from the field and into a fun situation together, saw the day as an opportunity to build team chemistry. Some of the same themes were reflected in the movie, as a matter of fact.

"That fires me up, to see our players together," he said. "We enjoyed the movie, had some laughs; now it's time to get back to work.

"We've been working hard. We've got a lot of new players, young players, and we're merging those guys with our veteran guys. A lot of these guys are starting to fit in here, and we're becoming a football team, which is what we have to do this time of year. Training camp is right around the corner."

A remake of the popular 1970s Burt Reynolds vehicle, The Longest Yard will open to the public on Friday. However, the film's makers set up the sneak preview for the Buccaneers as a thank you to Gruden, who provided some technical knowledge (that is, Xs and Os) for the football scenes.

Longest Yard producers came to Tampa to pick Gruden's minds for a few plays. The imaginative Bucs coach drew up some ideas on a chalkboard, put together some film for the moviemakers' viewing and even reviewed the script during his vacation.

Sure enough, several of Gruden's suggestions made it onscreen. So as to avoid playing spoiler for those who wish to see the movie (a simple knowledge of the original won't tell you everything that is going to happen), we'll hold out the details here. Suffice it to say that the trick plays run by the inmates against the guards in the jailhouse setting were decidedly more effective when given the movie treatment.

"They were better executed than is my experience," said Gruden, laughing. "Some of it was relatively close [to real football] and some of it was kind of hard to believe, but that's why it's the movies."

An informal poll of the players and coaches as they left the cinema revealed almost all thumbs-up on the movie. There was laughter throughout the film's 114 minutes and most of the football scenes rang relatively true.

"There really aren't too many good football movies out there," said quarterback Chris Simms, who would recommend the movie to others. "It was creative, it was fun and it was at least somewhat realistic."

The Buccaneers also enjoyed the movies many interesting cameos and casting decisions. Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin plays a significant role for the protagonists and former Oakland Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski is among the villains on the guards' side. Other notable figures from the sports world who appear in the movie include Chris Berman, Jim Rome, Peter King, Brian Bosworth and Bob Sapp. Rapper Nelly also plays a key role and Reynolds, while ceding the main role to Sandler, returns in an important capacity.

"It was really neat to see, and a lot of those guys in that movie are my heroes," said Gruden. Some of the ex-players and media people in it – it was a great movie. You see Michael Irvin playing like that again – it fired me up to see him in shoulder pads and a helmet again. I love watching him play and watching him compete. Romanowski – knowing Bill like I do, it was neat to see him in there."

Gruden's name rolled along with the credits at the end of the movie. To the suggestion that his consulting work might be a launching pad into a Hollywood career, Gruden responded that he "just want[s] to win some football games."

That's what the team was trying to do by working out in the morning. Roughly 80 players gathered at the stadium for the team's third practice of the week, representing most of the roster, minus the allocates competing in the NFL Europe League and a handful of injured men.

Many of those 80-odd players were stepping onto the Raymond James Stadium field for the first time as Buccaneers. With the videoboards on, the cannon firing after "touchdowns" and the field freshly painted and lined, the practice was an opportunity for these newcomers to get acclimated to the home surroundings.

The setting seemed to fire the team up a bit. At one point, wide receiver Edell Shepherd was compelled to lay out for a deep pass, making an impressive, diving catch. Later, during a heated red zone period, Shepherd caught a pass in the end zone and, as the cannons were fired, tossed the ball up into the stands in celebration.

Shepherd's rookie receiving mate, J.R. Russell, enjoyed the experience but wasn't overwhelmed by the stadium, having played there in college when his Louisville Cardinals faced South Florida. He did understand the purpose of the trip, however.

"Coach is just trying to give us an in-season atmosphere," said Russell. "It was good."

longestyard05_26_05_1.jpg

Buccaneer RBs Michael Pittman (left) and Jameel Cook were among the first in Tampa to see the Adam Sandler remake of The Longest Yard

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers started their work day with two hours of real football in front of 65,000 seats, most of them unoccupied. They finished it in the seats for another two hours, as spectators to a stylized but entertaining depiction of the same game.

It wasn't your typical "organized team activity day," and that's exactly what Head Coach Jon Gruden had in mind.

The Buccaneers were scheduled to expend the ninth of their 14 OTA days on Thursday, and they did just that with a typical on-field workout in the morning. What wasn't typical was the setting. In what has become something of a one-day spring tradition for the team, the Bucs practiced at Raymond James Stadium on Thursday, getting a feel for their home field.

That session wrapped up a few minutes after noon, after which the players bused back to team headquarters, squeezed in a quick round of treatment, showers and lunch and then got back on the bus. The afternoon destination was the AMC Theatres at Westshore Plaza, where they were treated to an advance screening of Adam Sandler's new movie, The Longest Yard.

Gruden, who has long seen the value in occasionally getting his players away from the field and into a fun situation together, saw the day as an opportunity to build team chemistry. Some of the same themes were reflected in the movie, as a matter of fact.

"That fires me up, to see our players together," he said. "We enjoyed the movie, had some laughs; now it's time to get back to work.

"We've been working hard. We've got a lot of new players, young players, and we're merging those guys with our veteran guys. A lot of these guys are starting to fit in here, and we're becoming a football team, which is what we have to do this time of year. Training camp is right around the corner."

A remake of the popular 1970s Burt Reynolds vehicle, The Longest Yard will open to the public on Friday. However, the film's makers set up the sneak preview for the Buccaneers as a thank you to Gruden, who provided some technical knowledge (that is, Xs and Os) for the football scenes.

Longest Yard producers came to Tampa to pick Gruden's minds for a few plays. The imaginative Bucs coach drew up some ideas on a chalkboard, put together some film for the moviemakers' viewing and even reviewed the script during his vacation.

Sure enough, several of Gruden's suggestions made it onscreen. So as to avoid playing spoiler for those who wish to see the movie (a simple knowledge of the original won't tell you everything that is going to happen), we'll hold out the details here. Suffice it to say that the trick plays run by the inmates against the guards in the jailhouse setting were decidedly more effective when given the movie treatment.

"They were better executed than is my experience," said Gruden, laughing. "Some of it was relatively close [to real football] and some of it was kind of hard to believe, but that's why it's the movies."

An informal poll of the players and coaches as they left the cinema revealed almost all thumbs-up on the movie. There was laughter throughout the film's 114 minutes and most of the football scenes rang relatively true.

"There really aren't too many good football movies out there," said quarterback Chris Simms, who would recommend the movie to others. "It was creative, it was fun and it was at least somewhat realistic."

The Buccaneers also enjoyed the movies many interesting cameos and casting decisions. Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin plays a significant role for the protagonists and former Oakland Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski is among the villains on the guards' side. Other notable figures from the sports world who appear in the movie include Chris Berman, Jim Rome, Peter King, Brian Bosworth and Bob Sapp. Rapper Nelly also plays a key role and Reynolds, while ceding the main role to Sandler, returns in an important capacity.

"It was really neat to see, and a lot of those guys in that movie are my heroes," said Gruden. Some of the ex-players and media people in it – it was a great movie. You see Michael Irvin playing like that again – it fired me up to see him in shoulder pads and a helmet again. I love watching him play and watching him compete. Romanowski – knowing Bill like I do, it was neat to see him in there."

Gruden's name rolled along with the credits at the end of the movie. To the suggestion that his consulting work might be a launching pad into a Hollywood career, Gruden responded that he "just want[s] to win some football games."

That's what the team was trying to do by working out in the morning. Roughly 80 players gathered at the stadium for the team's third practice of the week, representing most of the roster, minus the allocates competing in the NFL Europe League and a handful of injured men.

Many of those 80-odd players were stepping onto the Raymond James Stadium field for the first time as Buccaneers. With the videoboards on, the cannon firing after "touchdowns" and the field freshly painted and lined, the practice was an opportunity for these newcomers to get acclimated to the home surroundings.

The setting seemed to fire the team up a bit. At one point, wide receiver Edell Shepherd was compelled to lay out for a deep pass, making an impressive, diving catch. Later, during a heated red zone period, Shepherd caught a pass in the end zone and, as the cannons were fired, tossed the ball up into the stands in celebration.

Shepherd's rookie receiving mate, J.R. Russell, enjoyed the experience but wasn't overwhelmed by the stadium, having played there in college when his Louisville Cardinals faced South Florida. He did understand the purpose of the trip, however.

"Coach is just trying to give us an in-season atmosphere," said Russell. "It was good."

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