Looking for a hero
Now that the 2011 season is even more dead than it was when it was declared dead last week Tampa Bay fans the World over are despondent, bored of the same old lines from Raheem "Deadman Walking" Morris and fed up of the same old mistakes on the field.
2011 was summed up for me last week when I spent a good hour on my Fantasy Team (also deader than a 4 week old beef joint) trying to find a way to get Maurice Jones-Drew in. It was obvious he was going to do what he did to us. Obvious. This week I am deciding whether to go with all Cowboys or just most of them.
The Bucs are bad. Very bad. You can blame injuries, you can blame individual errors or blame the weather, the ref or the pitch the fact is the Buccaneers' 2011 problems have been spread over just about every element of the Franchise. No free agent signings a mixed draft class and some baffling playcalls to name but a few.
Fans in Tampa have totally turned their back on the Pewter Pirates and can you really blame them? When you look back at the days of the Super Bowl winning team (only nine years ago!) there were players, and a Head Coach who you believed wouldn't deliver anything but the absolute best.
Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Ronde Barber were held that, NFL best, a defensive unit to the highest standards of discipline and performance.
On the offensive side of the ball Mike Alstott was a reliable workhorse but also a monster, Keyshawn Johnson (think what you want about him...he's a dick) was a clutch receiver who bought a swagger and an arrogance to the team that the 2011 Bucs greatly lack.
That team had its fair share of easily forgettable names too but every team needs those, and has those. What every team doesn't have is heroes. The names I've mentioned above were heroes to us Tampa Bay fans. Someone you could look up to and believe in. Not like today's Bucs.
When you look back at what Joe Jurevicius went through just hours before making THAT catch at Veterans Stadium..."You go Joe, you go Joe" etc. Jurevicius left the bedside of his young baby to be at the game and made possibly the most famous play in Buccaneer history that day. The man was, is and always will be a hero to all Tampa Bay football fans. Not like today's Bucs.
Brad Johnson came from being the journeyman quarterback signing to being the leader of that team and this Franchise. Johnson was a pillar of society and from what I hear from those who had the pleasure of meeting the great man at Wembley this year, still is. Not like today's Bucs.
I'm not saying that everyone of the Buccaneers roster is a bad man (just Aqib Talib) or that they are all going around shooting and assaulting people in their spare time (just Aqib Talib) but what there aren't on this roster is heroes. There are good players, there are nice people and there are guys who do a tremendous amount for charity etc but no one who fills the shoes of the heroes of the past.
Not someone who is going to shout and ball when things go wrong but someone who players know will not let them get away with anything but the best. Jon Gruden? Hard ass, nasty SOB on the training field. Raheem Morris? Everyone's best friend. I know which one I'd rather have motiviating and improving the players on my team.
The softly, softly Tony Dungy approach couldn't win the big one and Raheem is even softer again. The Franchise needs a leader at the very top who demands perfection. They need a hero.
The Glazers have a big chance to add this type of this off season as free agency is stacked with talent at a number of positions where the Bucs have a need. The likes of Reggie Wayne and Wes Welker are slightly older, like Keyshawn, and have played for other top franchises, like Keyshawn, and add exactly what I'm talking about.
Robert Mathis and John Abraham on the D-Line and Brent Grimes and Carlos Rogers at DB are all players who would bring that level of accountability to this young team, plus being the big names they would instantly become the heroes that the Tampa Bay fans are crying out for.
Without waiting for Elbert Mack to get bitten by a spider and give him super powers, or Kregg Lumpkin to take to fighting crime in a costume shaped like a bat or even EJ Biggers wearing his pants on the outside of his tights, let's go and get the heroes that can take this Franchise back to the level we all want to see it at.