President Bill Clinton embraced Tony and James Dungy and revealed that he had been following the Buccaneers' progress since 1996
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' game against the Washington Redskins on Friday is the first preseason contest of the year, not a game usually considered a must-win. Nevertheless, it appears as if an advance scout has been sent down from D.C. to take a look at the Bucs.
Maybe you've heard of him: William Jefferson Clinton.
President Clinton visited the Buccaneers' Monday afternoon training camp practice at the University of Tampa's Pepin-Rood Stadium, stepping onto the field at approximately 4:15. He was introduced to team Executive Vice Presidents Joel Glazer and Edward Glazer, and Edward's wife, Shari Glazer, taking a moment to discuss the team's fortunes for the upcoming season. Clinton was in town for a fundraiser that brought him very near to the team's training camp facility.
Practice was called minutes later and virtually every player, coach and staff member on hand was able to chat with President Clinton and shake his hand. After most of the team's representatives had passed through the line, Clinton motioned for Head Coach Tony Dungy to join him and the two, plus Dungy's 13-year-old son, James, linked arms and shared a laugh.
Coach Dungy presented Clinton with a Buccaneers' t-shirt, and Clinton told Dungy that he was proud of the change Dungy had affected in the Buccaneers since his last visit. The President also visited the team's One Buccaneer Place headquarters in 1996 during a campaign visit to Tampa. The Buccaneers started that season, Dungy's first as head coach, at 1-7, but won five of their last eight in '96 and have since developed into a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
Clinton did not stop to speak to the press during his visit to training camp, but when one radio reporter stumbled into his path, the President was asked if the Bucs' had a chance to beat his hometown team, the Redskins. Responded Clinton: "Based on their performance last year, I think they have a chance to beat anyone, don't you?"
Dungy enjoyed his second visit with Clinton and passed along what he had said to the President.
"I told him I really appreciated it because he came in 1996 when we weren't doing real well," said Dungy. "He's not here because we started to do well, he's here because he's a real sports fan and he enjoys these visits. It was a real thrill for our guys."