Bulletin boards - the new scourge of the NFL
No-one can deny the huge impact the internet has had on our enjoyment of the NFL. For American readers of this piece, please spare a thought to imagine for a minute, the difficulties us Brits have had over the years following the Buccaneers. No net broadcasts, no net articles, hell no net at all until a few years ago. To think we all used to wait for a day-old USA Today on a Wednesday morning before we could read how many interceptions Vinny had thrown in the last game.

Not any more. We can now listen to Gene Deckerhoff (don't mention Miami over Florida State) and Scot Brantley (ditto for Tennessee over Florida) each weekend, and we can read all the comments and reviews from our favourite writers within hours. For fantasy addicts, real time scoring on the NFL means you can quickly hear about your latest RB or WR touchdown and quickly gloat to your opponent that week.

The bulletin board posters
But for every good effect, comes a compensating negative one. And the main one right now are some of the people who inhabit the bulletin boards that are everywhere around the gridiron internet scene.

Now I have to be careful here because I have long been a poster on the First Down (though it's not run by Glaswegian Keith and his cohorts anymore) Forum, and have a good number of friends through contacts there. But some of the people who post on the Bucs' own forum, well you really have to wonder where they have come from.

If you don't know where they have come from, you know when - since about 2002 in most cases although a few even date back to the 1997 bandwagon. Most of them have no idea that the Bucs had a team that played in orange (see the voting for the Bucs' all-time team for example) and bringing up names like Richard Wood, Kevin House and Mark Carrier will just receive blank looks.

Alstott for the Hall of Fame?
But wow do some of these idiots know their football though. At least ten separate posts appeared within a day of the loss in Washington calling for Gruden to be sacked and Brad Johnson cut. Some wanted Charlie Garner replaced with Earnest Graham because the latter scored three pre-season TDs. And one classic one was claiming that Mike Alstott will make it into the NFL Hall of Fame when he retires.

I used to think that some of the worst idiots who follow this sport resided in this country and make it their life's ambition to e-mail Sky at any opportunity on a Sunday night with ridiculous suggestions (and I could easily name two people that would have Messrs Halling and Cadle nodding in agreement here). But there seem to be some real beauties right around the world, and not just restricted to Buc land either. I mean, where would you be without logging on to another team's bulletin board and posting immature and derogatory comments about your own favourite franchise?

Vanishing all too quickly
What you do notice is that these clowns quickly disappear when their team loses. There was one joker who was bragging Minnesota this and Viking that a few years back until the Giants hammered the Purple boys 41-0 in the NFC Championship Game. Even Inspector Morse couldn't find him for weeks afterwards. Talk the talk, but walk the walk afterwards please.

I would end with a plea to some of the cretins to ease up on their wild rantings but it wouldn't do any good - they either wouldn't be reading this piece or wouldn't realise it was aimed at them in the first place. But I will leave you with two thoughts on this subject - remember where the delete key is, and wouldn't you rather these people were stuck in their bedrooms on the internet, than next to you in a bar or at Raymond James Stadium?

September 2004