Denis Crawford made an interesting point in an e-mail earlier this week in which he asked me if Derrick Brooks had surpassed Lee Roy Selmon as "Mr.Buccaneer". OK, so the idea was first put by Gary Shelton in the St.Petersburg Times but one lucid comment every three years does not make you a serious columnist.
But aside from whether he has or not (jury's out in my book but Lee Roy has a better restaurant), it got me thinking about heroes and people I admire, both within the Buccaneer organisation and outside it.
From the playing standpoint, you have to start with Brooks for everything he has done in his decade in Tampa Bay. A model citizen, great player and team-leader. Then you throw in John Lynch who stands for everything that is good about sport (not being able to pass cover properly anymore aside).
From other past Buccaneers, Selmon and James Wilder for their playing performances, and for sheer good character, how can you go further than Trent Dilfer? What he and Cass went through over little Trevin and how they've come through it as a family, surely can leave you with nothing but admiration.
Unfortunately in terms of big-name players, that could well be it. Others have tainted reputations or did not excel enough on the field to still leave you holding on for a hero, but away from One Buc, that is another matter.
My own personal heroes in the world of American sport are Chris Berman (the greatest sports commentator of all-time, worldwide), Marvin Miller (the real founder of the baseball players' union and the man who changed pro sport forever) and Jim Bouton (whose book Ball Four changed sports writing forever too). One day I will get to meet one of the three.
I could throw in the English teacher from Glyn School in the 1970s who made me want to become a journalist but seeing as he also did the same for Nick Halling some seven years earlier, the late Kevin Curtis has a lot to answer for to British gridiron fans! Or even former and current sports editors on either side of the Atlantic for their influence.
What it boils down to, is a hero being someone you admire, look up to and perhaps, one day get a chance to meet and pass on your respect. We are all fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and hence hold the players in high esteem just for being able to wear that uniform. You may forget the transgressions of some, over-emphasize the good and perhaps treat them as minor deities, but underneath they are still just the same as you and I.
Some other thoughts
Great to see that an agreement was finally reached over a new CBA. The NFL could have gone the way of baseball without proper revenue sharing and a salary cap and one George Steinbrenner in the world is quite enough.
Rumour has it that agreement was only reached when Jerry Jones of the Cowboys dropped the inclusion of his facelifts in the total spending budget for the NFL this season. The money saved may well be enough to keep Brian Griese in Tampa and Kerry Collins in Oakland.
The World Baseball Classic has proven to be a great success which leaves me to wonder, when will the gridiron version take place? I want to be there when the London Olympians represent the UK against the NFL Pro Bowl squad.
You've been great - enjoy Bonnie Tyler.
Paul Stewart, February 2006.