Memories of January, 2003 came flooding back to Rick Scott the moment he stepped into the lobby at One Buccaneer Place.
Scott, who was elected Governor of the state of Florida in November of 2010, was at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego on the evening of January 26, 2003, the greatest day in the history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Bay defeated the Oakland Raiders, 48-21, in Super Bowl XXXVII that evening to win its first Lombardi Trophy.
On Friday, Governor Scott visited the Buccaneers headquarters for the first time and, as all visitors do, discovered that the One Buc Place lobby doubles as a team museum. The trophy display case, the enormous Moment of Victory statue, the wall displays regarding the Super Bowl ring, the game itself and the aftermath – all were great reminders of the last Super Bowl title won by a Florida team.
Scott was on hand to get a tour of the Bucs' state-of-the-art headquarters, which opened in 2006, and to meet some of the 300 players, coaches and staff members who work in the building. He was shown around by General Manager Mark Dominik and Vice President of Football Administration Brian Ford, who filled the governor in on the history of the team and the methods it is using to pursue its goal of another championship. Scott seemed particularly impressed by the advanced resources of the facility's training room and the high-tech position meeting rooms that line the north side of the building.
As Scott exited the training room, defensive ends Kyle Moore and Da'Quan Bowers were on their way in. The governor shook hands with the two Bucs and wished them the best in the upcoming season. "Do well," said the governor. "I'll be watching."
While Bowers and Moore were both prominent draft picks, Scott, who ran his campaign on creating jobs, was also impressed at how many of the team's players had worked hard to rise from humbler roots to establish a spot on the team.
"We do pretty good with that around here," agreed Dominik. "That's kind of our claim to fame. We give everyone an opportunity."
Scott visited the team's expansive weight room, the bustling One Buc Place equipment room and the staff offices upstairs. At the end of the tour, the governor and his team stepped outside onto the team's practice fields and spent some time discussing football (and briefly, politics) with Head Coach Raheem Morris. Morris presented Governor Scott with an authentic Buccaneers jersey featuring the #1 and his name on the back.
There, the entire party experienced the stifling heat that makes Buccaneer practices such a test for the players. Morris, who holds his daily press conferences inside in the building's press studio, suggested there were cooler places for a meeting with the media, but Scott is quite used to outdoor events. He also knows that the psychological heat of a tough interview can help professionals in his business and in Morris's.
"It makes you better," said Scott. "It makes you think about what you're doing. Look, you don't win the Super Bowl if you're not the very best. You've got to have the best coach, the best plan."
After visiting One Buccaneer Place, Scott knows that the Buccaneers have the best work environment they could possibly wish for.
"Working at a donut shop, which was the first business I ever bought, when I was 22, that was fun," he said. "Coming to the Bucs and meeting everybody here – this is a great [place to have a] job. Now we've just got to win the Super Bowl."
As is surely customary at all of his stops, Scott was also asked some questions about key state issues. He emphasized the goals that are most important to his administration; however, perhaps due to his trip through the Bucs' lobby museum, he still had the NFL's biggest game on his mind.
"Well, I want to win the Super Bowl," said Scott. "Look, my job is to get people back to work. I have three jobs: I want every child in the state to get the best education they can; I want to make sure that everybody has an opportunity to get a job; and I want to make sure I keep the cost living as low as possible so people want to continue to flock to our state. That's what my job is."