Fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be showing off their team spirit Friday night at the Official Season Kickoff Party Presented by Miller Lite. However, that raucous party at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg will only be the tip of the iceberg, as fans across the Bay area – and in all 32 NFL locales – celebrate "Back to Football Friday!"
The Season Kickoff Party is always a very popular event, as fans get the opportunity to share their excitement about the soon-to-launch season with Buccaneers players and coaches. This year, with the help of the NFL and the United Way, football fans across the country have been holding Back to Football events of their own since August, all culminating in this Friday's nationwide celebration on September 10.
The Back to Football program dovetails with the NFL's Play 60 health initiative, which is aimed at tackling childhood obesity. Through it, Tampa Bay fans have been encouraged to demonstrate their commitment to the Buccaneers and their excitement for the upcoming season by planning a unique Back to Football Friday event in their community, at the workplace or at school, designed to support youth health and wellness.
Whether they're planning a pep rally or wearing their favorite Buccaneers jersey to school or work, fans can be creative in showing their passion on September 10, and enter for the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime prizes from the NFL.
Schools can enter the Back to Football Friday contest at NFLRUSH.com/BackToFootball. They will be asked to submit photos of their Back to Football Friday event and answer brief essay questions for the chance to win a $10,000 NFL PLAY 60 grant for fitness equipment at their school and a visit from a Buccaneers player this fall. Thirty-four winning schools will be selected as "NFL PLAY 60 Super Schools," one in each of the 32 NFL markets, and two at-large winners. Through the contest, local schools can cheer on the Buccaneers while supporting the health and wellness of children in the Tampa Bay community.
Fans can also bring their team loyalties to work on September 10, sporting Buccaneers gear or planning a special office event to celebrate the return of football season. Working with United Way, the NFL is offering companies the chance to show their NFL passion and win a Back to Football celebration and player visit at their office. Companies can register to take part at United Way's special Back to Football website, UnitedWay.org/BackToFootball.
And if those school and office celebrations just happen to get fans into the Buccaneer spirit, then Jannus Live will be the perfect destination to cap it all off on Friday.
This year's Kickoff Party will begin on Friday at 7:30 p.m. As always, heavy attendance is expected, not only by fans but by Buccaneers players and coaches. This is the last opportunity for the Bucs and their supporters to meet face to face and share their excitement about the 2010 season before the battle begins on September 12.
The party will also feature a live performance by Charlotte-based alternative rock band Paper Tongues as well as the musical stylings of DJ Mix Master Mike. Paper Tongues' singles "Ride to California" and "Trinity" have both reached the top 30 on the U.S. alt-rock chart, and the band has toured with Switchfoot and Flyleaf, opened for Muse and appeared on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." Mix Master Mike, resident DJ to the Beastie Boys, has been one of nation's most prominent DJs since the early '90s, when he won the New Music Seminar/Supermen Inc. DJ Battle for World Supremacy in New York City. He worked on the Beastie Boy albums "Hello Nasty" and "To the 5 Boroughs."
Of course, the Buccaneers players and coaches in attendance are always a huge part of the draw for the kickoff party. Head Coach Raheem Morris and General Manager Mark Dominik will be on hand, accompanied by a large group of players to be determined. Last year, Josh Freeman, Geno Hayes, Sammie Stroughter, Michael Clayton, Maurice Stovall, Sabby Piscitelli, Derrick Ward and Earnest Graham were among the players who came out to party with the fans on the cusp of the season.
That 2009 Kickoff Party drew a huge crowd to the Channelside District Courtyard in downtown Tampa despite heavy rains. This year's party promises to be bigger, louder and more raucous than ever before, with excitement building over one of the most anticipated seasons in franchise history. The Bucs' late-season surge behind quarterback Josh Freeman in 2009 inspired optimism about the team's 2010 fortunes, and that was before the team added such difference-makers as Gerald McCoy, Brian Price and Mike Williams during the offseason.
This year's party will also take advantage of its new location, Jannus Live, formerly known as Jannus Landing. Jannus Live is an open-air concert venue in downtown St. Petersburg that recently reopened to rave reviews after undergoing renovations. It is the home to such upcoming shows as The Flaming Lips, Vampire Weekend, Anberlin and Social Distortion.
There will be something for everyone at this year's Official Season Kickoff Party, including performances by the 2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders and the kid-friendly antics of team mascot Captain Fear. Players and coaches will sign autographs and take the stage for an extensive round of questions and answers. Performances by Paper Tongues and DJ Mix Master Mike will take the party into the night.
All to celebrate the beginning of the Buccaneers' 2010 season, which is almost upon us. Tampa Bay kicks off its regular season on Sunday, September 12 with a visit from the Cleveland Browns.