There is no sport more popular in the United States than NFL Football, and for many sports fans in Central Florida, there is no passion greater than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of media sources for information on these fans' favorite topic, from the inside access provided here on Buccaneers.com to the information disseminated by local and national newspapers, television networks, radio stations and internet sites.
The question is no longer, is there adequate coverage out there for my favorite team? Now the question is, with everything out there being said about the Buccaneers, did I miss anything?
That's why we are bringing you the "Word on the Street" about the Buccaneers every week during the 2011 season. Every Friday, we'll recap some of the national coverage about your Bucs that you may have missed, and provide you with the links so you can check it out yourself.
This week, the Buccaneers trip across the pond has led to an international version of the Word on the Streets, with a mix of links from the United States and the U.K. Among those are a London article on the possibility of the city getting its own NFL team, plus a video on ESPN.com breaking down win probabilities based on certain statistical milestones on Sunday. You may, of course, have already read about some of these topics, but this is a chance to get another perspective and find out how the Buccaneers are viewed in communities other than our own.
So, without further ado, the Word on the Streets:
- The arrival of Bucs, Bears has London dreaming of their own team.
As this story in London's Evening Standard points out, the NFL recently committed to playing at least one regular-season game in London for each of the next five years. Where the league will go from there still remains uncertain, but it is at least possible for U.K. fans of American football to contemplate the possibility of one day having their own home team. This piece by the Standard's Kenneth Elliott explores that concept and then looks a bit more at the nuts and bolts of the Bucs-Bears matchup on Sunday. Though Elliott had not yet had a chance to talk to the Bears, who didn't arrive in London until Thursday evening, about the health status of Devin Hester, he did get the Bucs thoughts on facing that explosive return man. For a little more on the angle of Hester against the Bucs' excellent coverage teams, here's a stateside article that we technically found in the Seattle Times but was filed by AP.
Excerpt: "There may be potential rivals in Germany, Canada and Mexico, but London is certainly a firm favourite with the NFL . . . so how about a return for the London Monarchs and those magical nights in 1991 when they went on to lift the World Bowl at the old 'Venue of Legends'? As for Sunday, the Bucs are back, having lost 35-7 to the New England Patriots here in 2009 in front of 84,254 fans. The Bears also make their return to the capital. They arrived in 1986 for a friendly in the American Bowl series against Dallas with the Mike Ditka-coached team, featuring big names like quarterback Jim McMahon and the somewhat bigger linebacker William 'The Refrigerator' Perry, defeating the Cowboys 17-6."
- The Trib offers up 10 thoughts on Sunday's game.
As always, it's instructional to get an idea of how experts in the opposing team's camp are viewing the upcoming game, and the Chicago Tribune has sent Brad Biggs across the Atlantic to cover the week's developments firsthand. On Thursday, he posted a catch-all column of 10 things that strike him as significant about the upcoming Bucs-Bears matchup. Some of his reporting comes from a trip out to the Bucs' temporary home at Pennyhill Park, where he captured the thoughts of Raheem Morris, Greg Olson, Jeff Faine and Donald Penn. Among the topics covered in Biggs' column are Penn's matchup with Julius Peppers, the development of Josh Freeman and, not surprisingly, the better-than-expected weather.
Excerpt: "The Bears would freely admit they've been up and down on offense this season, one of the key factors in them being 3-3. When they've protected quarterback Jay Cutler, things have run smoothly. When they haven't, it's looked like a preparation for a mutiny at times. So I asked Morris if he's picked anything out of up-and-down performances?"
- Video Clip: DailyMotion looks at Bucs' arrival.
The first thing the Buccaneers did after arriving in London on Monday night and catching up on some sleep was take their rookies out for a community appearance on Tuesday morning. The Bucs' Rookie Club members, plus second-year linebacker Dekoda Watson, visited the Harris Academy in South Norwood and taught the game of American football to about 150 boys and girls. A crew from Dailymotion.com took the opportunity to catch up with the Buccaneers in the early part of the week and get their thoughts on representing the NFL overseas. The crew gathered interviews with tight end Zack Pianalto and DE Adrian Clayborn and previewed Sunday's game against the Bears.
Excerpt (transcribed): "The players are enthusiastic about the chance to increase the NFL's fan base in the U.K. 'For the people over here, it's a chance to open their eyes to the exciting game of American football,' said Pianalto. 'It's something that's very near and dear to our hearts and hopefully people come out, come to the game and, like I said, learn a little bit more about it and learn to love it."
- Yahoo! contributor lists best moments in Buc history.
Here's a wild card link this week that has nothing to do with the team's current trip to London or their fight for first in the NFC South. This one comes from the Yahoo! 'contributor network,' which enlists fans from around the country in providing analysis on their favorite teams. Buccaneer fan Maxine Nelson took it upon herself to list the five best moments in franchise history; click here and see if you agree with her selections. In a way, it's an unusual list, in that it refers to 1979 as the Buccaneers' best season, wrings two of the five picks out of the Super Bowl run and lumps an entire 20-year span of playoff campaigns into another 'moment.' There's also an unfortunately-spelled reference to the late, great Lee Roy Selmon to get past, but Nelson's contribution is a conversation-starter, if nothing else. While on Yahoo! Sports, you can follow another link regarding the Bears' decision to come to London late in the week, as well as this one (from another contributor) ranking the teams in the NFC South.
Excerpt: "In their first year as an NFL franchise the 1976-1977 season the Buccaneers achieved an 0-14 record. They were dubbed the worst team in the history of the NFL. The 1977 season wasn't any better when they racked up 12 consecutive losses until December 11. That was the day the Buccaneers beat the New Orleans Saints 33-14. After the game they actually interrupted the regularly scheduled programming on TV in Tampa Bay to show the team's homecoming. It became a huge celebration when 8,000 fans gathered to meet them at the airport."
- Video Clip: ESPN Accuscore gives slight edge to Bears.
We reference Pat Yasinskas' ESPN NFC South blog in this article almost every week, and this week is no exception. On Wednesday, Yasinskas himself linked to a video called "Accuscore – Bears vs. Buccaneers" in which analyst Jon Anik gives a breakdown of game predictions based on specific statistical milestones that may or may not be reached during Sunday's game and how they affected simulations of the matchup. For instance, he examines the reported difference in the likelihood of a Buccaneers victory if running back Earnest Graham does or does not reach 75 rushing yards, and if quarterback Jay Cutler is or is not sacked four times by the Bucs' defense. At the end, Anik reveals the Accuscore prediction for the game, with which many Tampa Bay fans are likely to disagree. While you're visiting Yasinskas' blog, also check out this post regarding the YAC (yards after catch) being allowed by the Bucs' defense, and this one regarding the challenge Tampa Bay will face in Matt Forte.
Excerpt (transcribed): "Earnest Graham projected for another strong game for the Buccaneers filling in for the injured LeGarrette Blount with 88 yards per simulation. If Graham has 75 or more rushing yards the Bucs are 61% favorites, but if he's held under 75 the Bears are heavy 72% favorites."