A fresh coat of paint has helped, but the NFL was already pleased with the state of the practice fields at One Buc Place
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers found occupants for their empty house during Super Bowl week, and they didn't even have to place an ad in the classified section.
Tampa Bay had high hopes of being the NFC's representatives in the Super Bowl this season, a dream that ended in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. As it turns out, however, the team's headquarters will still be the center of activity for the conference champions.
During their week of preparation in Tampa for Super Bowl XXXV, the New York Giants will use One Buccaneer Place as their practice facility. As such, the National Football League has had a presence in Tampa for weeks, ensuring that the Bucs' digs are suitable for the year's highest-profile sporting event. They have been pleased with what they have found.
"Well, we already have pretty tight standards around here," said Andre Trescastro who, as the Bucs' director of security, has assisted the NFL in its - shall we say - 'anti-espionage' efforts. "We already have tarps that we pull up every time we practice in an effort to maintain the integrity of the practices themselves. In addition to that, the league is bringing extra security to post all around the field, to ensure that there is no pirating of the plays and the practices. The integrity of the practices is a major issue for them."
Until recently, the Bucs' facility was surrounded with more scrub brush than prying eyes. But corporate and retail development all around One Buccaneer Place have inadvertently made security and 'practice integrity' a more difficult issue. Most troublesome is a new parking garage that looms over the south end of the bank of practice fields. That problem has been met with giant, wind-safe tarps strung between huge telephone poles, plus a security presence in the parking garage.
"They were very happy with the fact that we were prepared for the garage next door, with the tarps that we came up with last year," said Trescastro. "They were pleased with the way everything was set up. I'm meeting with them (on Wednesday) as far as their expectations, and I'm calling my counterpart with the Giants to make sure he knows he has our full support here. He'll come in over the next couple of days to go over their entire protocol and what security measures their team has as a norm."
Hand in hand with security goes player safety and comfort, and the NFL is also very satisfied with the Bucs' practice fields. Cooperative weather and the full-time efforts of Head Groundskeeper Rob Julian have kept Tampa Bay's practice fields among the league's best. To add to the appearance and usefulness of the field, Julian and a small crew of hired hands also gave it a thorough paint job. While the Bucs generally practice on a pair of fields with minimal lines and numbers, the team's backyard now sports two fields that look ready to host the Super Bowl itself.
"They know that the field is easily one of the better ones in the league for practice," said Trescastro. If you check it out now, it looks great. (The league) took a look at it, inspected it, and they were very impressed with how well the fields have been kept and how the facility looks as a whole. And then, of course, they were very pleased with the weather.
"Rob does a very thorough job, and it amazed me what a little more paint does to the field. Of course, he's been taking care of it very well."
Before and after practices, the Giants will also use the Buccaneers' locker room and accompanying facilities, though they will hold the majority of their team meetings at their own hotel. Tampa Bay's training, video and equipment rooms, and potentially the weight room, will come in handy for the visitors. In preparation for Giants' arrival, the NFL maintained contact with the Bucs' special events manager, Maury Wilks.
"Mainly, they were asking about food setup as well as general logistic questions, such as where we do interviews, where Tony Dungy holds press conferences after games, that sort of thing," said Wilks. "It has all the basics. They just wanted the entire tour – training room, workout room, et cetera – and everything is close to each other, so it should work fine."
In the meantime, the Bucs' video and equipment staffers are working on the behind-the-scenes details so that the two Super Bowl squads will have less to worry about in the hectic final week. For instance, the video department of Director Dave Levy, Assistant Director Pat Brazil and Assistant Chris Bryan spent much of Tuesday organizing and inspecting equipment shipped in from all over the country.
To ease the logistical burden on the traveling Super Bowl teams, the NFL requires the other clubs' video departments to pitch in with the necessary equipment to fill both squad's meeting rooms for the week. Thus, One Buc Place was the destination point of dozens of shipments on Tuesday, with Levy, Brazil and Bryan busy organizing and inspecting the arrivals. In the coming days, they will handle all of the video setup at the two team's hotels, before the Giants or Ravens even arrive.
"We get equipment from every team except the ones in the Senior Bowl and the AFC and NFC Championship Games," said Levy, explaining that each of those 24 squads basically sends a set of equipment sufficient for one meeting room. "It makes it easier for them when they come in, and that's good because they have a lot of other work to take care of. We set up the meeting rooms and that's one less thing they have to worry about."
Levy and his crew are more than happy to help out, and that is especially true of Brazil, who has a special connection with the team about to invade One Buccaneer Place. Dave Brazil, Pat's father, is the Giants' defensive quality control coach.
On Sunday, Pat Brazil was able to get in touch with his father about three hours after the dust had settled on the Giants' 41-0 whipping of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. As much as Brazil would have enjoyed helping the Buccaneers reach their first Super Bowl, he is thrilled to see his father so close to his ultimate professional goal.
"He's very excited," said the son of his father, the career coach. "This is something he's been waiting for his whole life. This is his first Super Bowl."
Through the '70s and '80s, Dave Brazil's clan led a life similar to that of a military family, with stops in such outposts as Tulsa (where Pat was born), Detroit, Boston, Kansas City and Kent, Ohio. It was in Kansas City, with the Chiefs, where the youngest of Brazil's four sons first became involved in NFL video work. His father served on the Chiefs' coaching staff from 1984-88, tutoring first the defensive backs, then the linebackers. Pat left Kansas City to join the Buccaneers' staff in 1991, while his father has since worked on coaching staffs in Pittsburgh and New York. In 1990 and '91, Dave Brazil was the Steelers' defensive coordinator.
"Even before I got into the NFL, our whole family supported our father throughout his coaching career, from team to team, wherever he went," said Pat. "There have been a lot of ups and downs, but it's always been a family dream for him to make it to the Super Bowl."
Dave Brazil may have had to wait 17 seasons to make his first trip to the big game, but the timing and location of the trip are special. During the offseason before the 2000 campaign kicked off, the Brazils mourned the loss of both Pat's mother, Bridget, and his oldest brother, Michael. The family has thus gathered together on several occasions over the last calendar year, but will do so once again for a happier reason next week.
"All of the family is going to be together again, and that's really good for my dad since my mom passed away in the offseason," said Pat. "It makes it kind of special that all the family is together again in Tampa."