Why I'm being realistic about 2005
Several people who have noticed my prediction of 6-10 for this season, have asked me about being so pessimistic. More like realistic.

The one word that you will never hear Jon Gruden or Bruce Allen use is "re-building" but that is exactly what the Buccaneers are going through right now. And there is another season of it ahead yet when you consider just how old the defense is.

Six things I think
(because I've got to be one better than Lee Bromfield)


1. Drew Rosenhaus is a complete arse. And so is Terrell Owens. I personally hope that the latter gets suspended or holds out for the entire season. After all, I traded him to Phil for two first round picks last October.

2. Ian Beckles is right on the money with his comments about the Bucs. I have had the pleasure of listening to most of his shows for the past month and the guy is heads up with the problems affecting the team. And remember, he played seven years for Tampa so has been there, done it and got the T-shirt.

3. Congratulations to Dan Marino for his entry into the NFL Hall of Fame. Apparently Miami No.13 shirts are still a huge seller in South Florida. So basically, there are Marino replicas everywhere except under center for the Dolphins.

4. Note to Cedric Benson - get your butt into camp now. I drafted you third overall and am getting hell from a few other FFL owners (you know who you are JD, Lee and Steve).

5. Apologies for the picture - I had to do it. I shot an 81 round the Old Course last week but double-bogeyed the first two holes. Did par the 17th Road Hole for the first time though.

6. Some great e-mails came in from the Man Utd muppets after the ITV programme about Malcolm Glazer. They basically think that the Glazers must be crap owners because the Bucs haven't anything in the past two seasons. Firstly, we only have one trophy to go for in a 32-team league based around parity. United play in a three-team league, for four competitions every year and can buy pretty much any player they want. You stick to your game and we'll stick to ours. But either way, our teams are both owned by some seriously decent people.
Derrick Brooks is entering his 11th NFL season, Simeon Rice his 10th, Ronde Barber and Shelton Quarles their 9th (although Shelton played two years in Canda before that), and even Brian Kelly is into his 8th season. This defense is old. And hence needs re-building.

What the Bucs are going through now is simply payback for the six successful seasons we had from 1997 to 2002. Just like the Titans and Eagles, we had several seasons in the upper echelons of the NFL hierarchy, but the league-first philosophy of "Any Given Sunday" and the salary cap means that eventually, your time to return to Earth will come. But unlike Tennessee and Philadelphia, we won the SuperBowl which makes it totally worthwhile.

The Bucs are also suffering from the loss of the four top draft picks that were given to the Raiders for Jon Gruden. Again, this was part of the price paid to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy so again, it makes it totally worthwhile.

The veteran savvy on the defense will bring us a couple of winning performances and every NFL team has the ability to win four every season. And when you look at a schedule, there will always be two games that you don't expect to win that you will, and vice versa. Hence why I see the Bucs finishing at 6-10 in 2005.

Does it worry me? No because I made a vow that night in San Diego that I would take ten straight losing seasons in return for that marvellous victory in the SuperBowl. Yes I want the Buccaneers to win every game, but I am totally realistic enough to realise that there are going to be more disappointments than enjoyments from Sunday nights this season.

Paul Stewart