Here come the Buccaneers to London (again)
Two years ago the Bucs UK were fortunate enough to see their heroes play at Wembley Stadium. Club members who had long hoped for the chance to travel across the Atlantic to see the Pewter and Red take the field suddenly had the chance to do so without even looking at their passports.
The result was irrelevant. The atmosphere was magical and the events of the weekend with the club meal, the touch football and the tail-gate events were so special. And then came all the pictures and the NFL Films documentary to follow.
We all sat back, tried to take it all in and realised we had seen a once-in-a-lifetime event.
And then just like London buses, two came along at once. Two years after Tampa Bay gave up a home game to play host to New England in London, they seem likely to do it again in 2011 against the Chicago Bears. And even I had not seen this one coming in my wildest dreams.
Initially I felt very sorry for the Tampa-based fans. When you only have eight home games a year, then losing 12.5% of them is a lot. It is not like hockey and basketball which play an 82 game season and baseball were you keep playing until the Yankees win 100 games and make the post-season.
And what happened to the NFL's promise of every team making one such trip? Putting up with the disruption, travel logistics and long flights to come across the pond to spread the word of football/sell more merchandise (delete where you think appropriate).
I guess the likes of Jerry Jones and Jim Irsay are not prepared to give up one of their precious home games after all in the name of collective responsibility after all.
But then you look at the fact that the Bucs did not sell out a single game in 2010 in spite of a 10-6 season and the youngest and most exciting team in the NFL. The Tampa area has suffered a lot from economic downturns and the Buccaneers want to capitalise on their marketing potential to a much wider audience.
Hence the likelihood of the Bucs featuring on the NFL's "Hard Knocks" training camp show in 2011 and the chance to gain further worldwide acclaim from bringing their product to a wider audience. And the fact that they have the longest and most renowned NFL fan club in the UK has not hurt either.
So here we all go again. Delay those holiday plans to Florida for the official Bucs UK trip, prepare for another weekend of events with the club and the team, and the chance to once again see Josh Freeman lead the offense on a London field. Just need to make sure I do a better job calling the plays this time round with Gene Deckerhoff.
You've been great, enjoy the Clash (London calling).