Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last Rites

Every player uses the last hours before a game in a different way


Like many players, LB Derrick Brooks loses himself in music at some point before the game

It's 7:15, approximately 105 minutes before the Buccaneers and Rams get it on for a nationwide audience. As a Stadium Club member, you are likely tailgating, finding your seats, checking out the plush lounges of Raymond James Stadium or getting ready to leave your house for the game.

If you're a Buccaneer, however, one of tonight's combatants, then you're in the team locker room, counting down the minutes until this much-anticipated games. There are dozens of ways, of course, to pass the time and get in the desired mental state, and no two players prepare in the same way.

Because concentration is at a premium at this hour, media and other visitors are not allowed in the locker room. That does not apply to Buccaneers.com, however, so let's take a quick look to see how Tampa Bay's players are getting ready for the big game.

S Damien Robinson is trying on several pairs of cleats to find the right fit and cleat length.

T Pete Pierson is doing some last-minute brushing up on blocking schemes from a stapled set of papers, but he will soon find out that he has been deactivated for tonight's game.

DT Warren Sapp, along with WR Jacquez Green, is ripping through ESPN's game show, the Two Minute Drill, routinely outdoing the television competitors. He stops doing this briefly, however, when ESPN personality Chris Berman ducks into the Bucs' locker room. It's a short visit, and Berman's popularity allows him to get around the off-limits policy.

DE **Chidi Ahanotu is staring at the floor of his locker, his ears covered, in quiet meditation. Shortly, Ahanotu gets up and heads to the training room to get his shoulder taped.

DE Steve White, LB Derrick Brooks and RB Rabih Abdullah are already on the training tables getting their ankles taped, and S Eric Vance, DT James Cannida and S Dexter Jackson are waiting to go next. Brooks is lost in the music on his headphones as he gets taped.

S John Lynch and CB Donnie Abraham, a pair of Pro Bowl defensive backs, are in a separate room behind the main locker room, going through some specific stretching exercises. Abraham is employing a heating pad to soothe his various nagging injuries.

DT Anthony McFarland is finishing the effort of putting on his shoes and socks, right before declaring, "I'm going to get a quick sweat in," and heading for the field.

G Randall McDaniel is throwing away an empty bottle of Pepto Bismol, apparently having soothed a troubled stomach. It's not likely that McDaniel is suffering from anything related to nerves - this will be his 205th career NFL game, not counting playoffs.

WR Karl Williams and LB Jamie Duncan are flipping through the game program. One program is put in each player's locker before every game.

Pretty soon, all 45 active Buccaneers will take the field together and begin preparing for tonight's game. At 7:15, though, it's every man for himself. **

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