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Tom McEwen

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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Hope springs eternal as Bucs prepare for new season

Posted Sep 5, 2010 by The Tampa Tribune

Updated Sep 5, 2010 at 11:22 PM

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It is that time again — football time. Look to our west in the late afternoon, the colorful skies will tell you it is coming. There is no nip in the air yet, but there soon will be.

The key is the young masses around here now, and those who wish they were still young, have awakened to the distant cheers, the weekend telecasts or live games. There is a spirit, there are expectations for the best. None of our teams, preschool to the pros and professionals at Raymond James Stadium, have yet to be very disappointed. Surely only the best is ahead.

Take the Bucs, who are 2-2 in the preseason with the regular season to begin this weekend. With the regular season, the record is still 0-0, hopes are only for the best. So how will the Buccaneers do this season ahead? I have no idea and likely neither do you, only high hopes. The Buccaneers are without heroes as this season begins and with a head coach (Raheem Morris) beginning his second season under General Manager Mark Dominik.

Heaven knows if your best known player is a cornerback, Ronde Barber, then the future can only be uncertain. Add to that the fact that your starting quarterback is a kid named Josh Freeman who played his college ball at Kansas State, then the future is even more unpredictable. Furthermore, we have a season about to begin, against Cleveland, with an opener not sold out, not going to be sold out, and one that won’t be televised locally. You have to pay to go see it, or drive 50 miles so that you can see it on television.

This is uncommon and expected because of the nature of this starless team, because of the uncertainty of the prospects and because the Buccaneers’ best known players are out of the mix and will be in the stands or in the press box as fans — meaning as loyal examples, John Lynch, Mike Alstott, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and Doug Williams. If ever a team and its administration cannot be challenged when they say this is a rebuilding year, this is it, unless quarterback Freeman, who at 6-foot-6, 248 pounds and only 22 years of life in his veins who will become what he and his coaches think he can become. Most of us agree this is realistic. This opening game, I think, is critical. Moreover, the Bucs, despite the presence of the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in its own division, may well be where they need to be to beat the best. They have two shots at New Orleans , a good circumstance for these Buccaneers.

Most think the attitude and financing of the Glazer family is just right. They have the money, they own their own facility and site near RJS and they have declared this is their home and they want to prove their ambitions for themselves and for Tampa Bay.

Frankly, the Buccaneers could very well be sleepers in the NFL despite the overwhelming belief that they may well be lousy. They have the chance to sneak up on some people and to return to the pleasant circumstance of being in the wings, lying in wait for an ambush. This is the belief of the Glazers and of Coach Morris. An ambush is on their mind in their plans. This situation of not being sold out should be embarrassment to this proud place in which we live. I know Linda and I are among those of confidence and great expectations. We went through those sorry, sorry times as losers too long.

You may judge this as an out-of-place declaration coming from me, but those of us who have been through the raw, raw times, then the joy of being Super Bowl champions, are the only ones who can so seek that great success for these Buccaneers of ours again.

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