The late Tom McEwen, sports editor of The Tampa Times from 1958-62 before being named sports editor of The Tampa Tribune in 1962, graced the Tribune sports section with his award-winning column, The Morning After, and his Breakfast Bonus notes columns were a signature offering from the 19-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year. McEwen died in June, 2011 at the age of 88. His wife, Linda, occasionally contributes past columns and exerpts to this blog.
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Bucs play just lousy enough to lose
Posted Dec 19, 2010 by Tom McEwen
Updated Dec 19, 2010 at 08:00 PM
Perhaps the cold, rainy weather at Raymond James Stadium Sunday was precisely gloomy enough for the kind of a game the homestanding Buccaneers played — lousy.
It was not sold out, not even close, and the final home game next Sunday against Seattle isn’t likely to be, either. The Buccaneers had several opportunities to beat Detroit at Raymond James Stadium yesterday, but they were just bad enough not to do it. Oh, some of the Bucs played decently for almost any kind of an effort against Detroit, and could have produced a winner. I mean, Detroit came to Tampa with a 26-game losing streak on the road. The Buccaneers cooperated enough to allow that team to pull out a win and that had to be good news to the Motor City.
Bucs head coach Raheem Morris said it was not a death blow to this season, but it surely was “a punch in the gut.” As always, Morris and enough of his mainstays reminded Buccaneer fans the Buckos have two games left on their schedule, plus an outside chance of making the playoffs, as of right now. But that’s not much of a salvation for this team which almost put it together, that found and played a half a dozen rookies good enough to play and headliners LeGarrette Blount and Josh Freeman, not a first year man, but the starting quarterback who completed 21 passes of his 32 throws for 251 yards.
Freeman appeared to have the Buccaneers on the road to a win Sunday, but a couple of late drives by the Bucs failed. When those apparent scoring drives came up short, it ended the thought that these Bucs were on their way to more respectability. Frankly, I think they are on that road still, and with good scouting and drafting should stay that way for the seasons ahead. Most think quarterback Freeman is a jewel in the raw. Be prepared to read plenty about this big young man (6-6, 248). He is a load, he can play and think and run and pass without changing gears. Freeman was a personal choice of Raheem Morris after he worked with him at Kansas State.
The crowd Sunday, when not applauding good deeds by the Bucs was still encouraging their Buccaneers locked in an almost unholy arm struggle. However, this most miserable Sunday environment because of the rotten weather drove about one half of the fans undercover seeking comfort. It would have been a good day in Green Bay or Detroit, Chicago or New York. It was the opposite of the warm weather we had come to revel in at Tampa.
The attendance had to be in the low 40,000 range or less and had the game not been as close as it was, more than did would have left earlier and listened to the game on the radio. The game was not televised locally - it was blacked out, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the NFL to change its rules about no TV for the home game when it is not sold out.
The Bucs and their counterparts in other NFL cities are likely to see a continuation of sellouts without blackouts.
This Buc team this year has not performed as well as most of their fans would like and they are now becoming jaded. Fans have not had the Bucs long enough to know or understand the name of the game is still winning and with the taste of past championships still in their throats, still want their Bucs to be in the thick of it in the seasons ahead. They deserve it. They have earned it.
Count on the Buccaneers becoming more and more involved in the promotion of their team and to continue to search for the key ingredient that sells tickets — winning and stars. Sports lives on the star athletes, and the involvement of team owners as well as those athletes in promotion of their product. Still, football reigns top in sales ability in the South. The owning Malcolm Glazer family is aware of these credos just as they are aware that the Tampa Bay area is now fair game for salesmanship and promotion.
The late Buc owner, Hugh Culverhouse, learned that quickly, for it was his thought that if you did not play sports and games to win, then why keep score?