Pardon the Interruption
The most embarrassing part of Sky's coverage all season was Nick Halling's introduction to the Bucs v Redskins' game in which he claimed "we had seen Tampa lose to Miami live earlier this season". Last time I looked, it was 27-13 Tampa. To make a mistake in an off-the-cuff comment is one thing and it can happen to anyone.

But this was his pre-written script that he was reading from an autocue and is inexcusable and shows a total lack of research or checking of simple facts. I mean, I even sent the guys in the studio the weekly Bucs press release. Unfortunately this is becoming all too common from Nick who used to be a really good presenter and a good guy too. Perhaps all his other freelancing work is affecting his judgement, as I have heard from several other people in the business that he has changed for the worse in all aspects of his gridiron work.

At least I called Theismann as being "the most annoying presenter in sports" before the game. He was so quick to jump on referee Mike Carey for ejecting Sean Taylor and got totally the wrong end of the stick. If he'd waited about two more seconds before jumping in with both feet (and his repaired broken leg), he would have heard Carey's explanation of the incident. There then followed five minutes of abuse of the officials, and then not even the fastest back-pedalling in the history of television, but just a change of opinion completely. Theismann is an annoying jerk and I really sympathise with Mike Carlson who has done every live Sunday night game this season for Channel 5, whilst having to put up with that ESPN trio.

Just what were Ryan Nece and Jermaine Phillips wearing for their pre-game introductions? It is one thing to say something flashy and clever (not so fast Simeon) in your name and college introduction, but to look like someone plying the outfield for Australia in a 20-20 match is just going too far. By far the worst fashion faux pas since Phil Jones was seen at Old Trafford in a Raiders' jacket (circa 1991).

All over the Bucs' board after the Redskins game, were moronic trolls claiming the Bucs were victims of terrible calls, biased officiating and league bias. Edell Shepherd's drop should have stood as a touchdown they all screamed. Err, just one slight flaw - the NFL rules state it didn't. And if it had, then Roddy White's catch in the Week 16 game with the Falcons would have done too and the Bucs would not have even been in the playoffs. The 2005 Bucs caught every single break going during that season - sooner or later, it was going to catch up with us and it did. End of story.

After almost a decade of stability on the defensive coaching front, it does look like both Rod Marinelli and Mike Tomlin are on their way to other higher roles with other teams. Good luck to them. With the run of top-10 ranked defenses that the Bucs have had, it's amazing we have only lost the likes of Herm Edwards and Lovie Smith in recent years. I think we should just be grateful that Monte Kiffin is over 65 years old and doesn't want the aggravation and sheer hard work that a head coaching job would bring.

As mentioned on the bulletin board, my interest in the NFL ended when the Bucs were eliminated from the playoffs. I have no interest in watching other games unless I have a particular fantasy league player concern, and have only watched three of the past 15 Super Bowls (and one of them was at Qualcomm Stadium). My views on British TV coverage of the Super Bowl are well known and I cannot see myself watching this year's embarrassment either, especially as my choice of half-time entertainment, A Flock of Seagulls, were turned down in favour of someone called The Rolling Stones. Though I do hope Tony Dungy wins it with the Colts.

But just because the season is over, does not mean the work on BUCPOWER.COM ends of course. By the end of this week, all the profiles of the 2005 Buccaneers will have been updated, all the stats have been done, and I am working my way through updating all the player picture galleries. We will continue the shirt countdown (every player to wear that number) again and I have one or two new countdowns lined up for the off-season.

Paul Stewart, January 2006