Pardon the Interruption - football's back
It seemed strange to be sitting down last Saturday morning putting together a game results screen for BUCPOWER. I mean, it had been seven months since the last time I had done it, the last game of 2005 when the Bucs lost that play-off game to the Redskins (cue Lee Bromfield reference to Edell Shepherd's drop).

Pre-season games may of course mean nothing when it comes to the overall success of a team for the forthcoming season, but it does mean one thing - football is back. Part of the joy of following the NFL, is that the season is five months long so you appreciate every game all the more.

Unlike English soccer in which this summer's off-season lasted all of three days from the World Cup final to the first round of the InterToto Cup, NFL fans have one brief interlude for April's draft, and then need to return to the tedium of the off-season. So spare a thought for the poor website editor who at last has plenty of daily articles for a site - because finding something to add to the front page of BUCPOWER from February through July is sometimes hard work indeed.

Start Gradkowski
It only took one day but some complete clown on one message board decided that Bruce Gradkowski's showing against the New York Jets' 4th string defense and cheerleader secondary, deserved an immediate promotion to starting for the Bucs ahead of Chris Simms. This was apparently based also on the fact that Chris is a potential free agent and hence putting the Toledo rookie in now would get him the experience he would need. Yeah right.

Get the name right
Jon Gruden's press conference after the Jets' game was pretty funny as the first question he was asked was about young Bruce. But the reporter in question (allegedly from a certain subscription based Buccaneer magazine based in Tampa), couldn't even get the name right, pronouncing it "Gradowski". Gruden gave him "the look" and said reporter immediately gained honorary season membership in the coach's doghouse.

Of which Ian Beckles still believes he is a member. Ian hosted Jon Gruden's weekly radio show during the Bucs' 2004 5-11 campaign, and hence by season's end, this was not a luvvy-friendly experience for all concerned. And Ian still reckons that Coach Gruden holds it against him, although some of the banter between the two on the WDAE 620 daily camp interview seemed to indicate that this could thankfully be a thing of the past.

American owners in the Premier League
Amazing how the second one to come along, Randy Lerner, is treated as the second Coming. Then again, replacing Deadly Doug Ellis would gladden any Aston Villa fan's heart, but remember how the groundwork for this deal has been laid by the Glazers' involvement in Manchester United.

And how none of the doom and gloom predicted by the Mancunian Muppet Brigade ever came to pass. Most of them are still expecting Old Trafford to be sold off and a plague of locusts to descent on the plains of Cheshire. They should have known better.

And finally from NFL Europe
A wonderful press release recently, picked up by a fair few daily papers, proudly stating how Marvin Allen is the first British-produced player in the NFL. OK, apart from the fact that he's the son of the NFL Europe coaching director, and that it is only a NFL Europe scholarship program to an NFL training camp, it's almost true.

The Bucs had one of these players last year, Claudius Osei. He spent 2005 getting to train with the players but on game days, his role was to put the Gatorade cups straight on the tables behind the Bucs' bench.

So expect young Marvin to be doing the same this year for the Raiders, and of course the likes of Worst Drown magazine to run weekly features on what a fantastic achievement it has been and how he is the next great hope for the Oakland franchise.

You've been great - enjoy Jim Diamond.

Paul Stewart, August 2006.