Ever try to choose a movie that will please an entire family of five?
How about a family of 90?
It's not always easy to find the perfect movie-going experience for everybody. Some prefer comedies, others like thrillers. Somebody has already seen that particular movie; somebody else isn't fond of that particular actor. Matinee, early show or late show?
Somehow, however, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' coaching staff was able to pull off the possible on Saturday morning, providing a movie-going experience that was a pleasure for 90 people and their varied tastes.
It has become something of a tradition for the Buccaneers to skip a practice late in training camp and take a surprise trip to the theater for a break from the heat and hard work. It's not an especially well-kept secret, given that it is a tradition and all, but players expecting the movie break in this year's camp were thrown off track a bit. Because the second game of the preseason fell on a Thursday, right as camp was scheduled to break, Head Coach Raheem Morris had no convenient opening on the weekly schedule to put the movie break.**
The Bucs played the New England Patriots on Thursday evening, had Friday off and then reported to One Buccaneer Place bright and early on Saturday morning for the next post-camp practice. Many of them were pleasantly surprised at that point to learn they were actually headed off campus. (If they hoped for an entire day off, no such luck; the Bucs will practice from 4:45 to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.)
Four chartered buses took the players and support staff to the nearby AMC Veterans 24 on Saturday morning for a special screening of the hit comedy, "Horrible Bosses." The multiplex obliged by opening one of its theaters early for the Bucs' personal use, well before the place opened to the public for its usual busy Saturday afternoon. The AMC multiplex also opened the concession stands and Buccaneer players were invited to choose from the various offerings at their hearts' content.
Very few of the 90 players passed up on that opportunity, though a few did try to go the relatively healthy route with fruit snacks and water. Plenty of more guilty pleasures were served up, too, including popcorn, peanut M&Ms, Sour Patch Kids and red and blue Icees. A few players even opted for hot dogs and nachos even though the clock indicated it was breakfast time.
The movie itself seemed to be a mild hit among the group, generating laughter throughout. The "Dark Knight" screening of several years ago still probably ranks as the most popular training camp movie choice. However, Saturday's flick – starring a well-matched comedic trio of Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day – would probably rank ahead of the movie selections in 2010 and 2009, "G.I. Joe" and "The Other Guys."
In the end, though, the quality of the movie was almost secondary. Lounging in comfortable chairs in air-conditioned luxury is always preferable to sweating under a helmet and a miserable sun. Frozen sweet drinks top a quick squirt from a water bottle in between plays. And torturing rookies with song demands is better than trying to tackle them in a goal-line drill, at least as a change of pace.
Yes, as usual, the players provided some of their own entertainment during the previews. Judging from the crowd reaction, it was probably the funniest part of the visit, as linebacker Derrell Smith, tight end Daniel Hardy and several others were coerced into standing at the front and singing for their veteran teammates. Smith and Hardy mostly stuck to school fight songs, but there were also a few attempts at freestyle rap that drew alternating cheers and hoots of derision.
But back to that issue of pleasing everybody with a single movie choice. Can it really be done. Linebacker Geno Hayes, for instance, had already seen "Horrible Bosses," and while he definitely enjoyed it the first time he probably would have chosen something new this time if given the chance. No matter, Hayes still enjoyed the visit by taking a spot alone in a row very close to the front and spending most of the time dozing.
Hayes was also one of the ringleaders during the rookie singing show, and he found value in the visit regardless of the choice of movie.
"This is always a good bonding experience for everyone on the team," said Hayes. "It's good to get away from football with the guys and have some fun. The rookies did a good job up there in front of everybody, and it was a good way to spend the morning."
That's 90 guys, one movie choice to please everyone and, considering how much the trip was enjoyed by everyone, no horrible bosses at all on the Buccaneers' coaching staff.