Up for Whatever Happens: Tampa Bay Beats the Steelers in an improbable win

There hasn’t been much to cheer about the last couple of years, and first part of this new season as I’m a diehard fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team.  It has been a transition period for them as they have sought after their correct player/coach combinations.  With the addition of Lovie Smith as the new head coach, I have been optimistic until the thrashing that took place in Atlanta.  I am also a fan of the Bud Light commercials, “Up for Whatever Happens” which I featured during the last Super Bowl.  So even after a terrible start to the new season, it was wonderful to see Warren Sapp grant a Tampa Bay resident with a dream “happening” by converting his living room into a pirate themed amusement park at the beginning of the game against the Pittsburg Steelers.  This is usually how it looks at my house on each Sunday that the Bucs play.

Football is a celebration of capitalism and the type of people who have assembled on the outskirts of society to attack the NFL are the same idiots who believe in global warming, the income disparity between men and women, and that it is better to have a president in the White House because of skin color rather than content of character.  These intrusive big-government, anti-capitalists want to step into the private affairs of Ray Rice, and Adrian Peterson along with coming after the Washington Redskin franchise name—as they do every “citizen” of the world for reasons that have nothing to do with justice.    These characters are not so interested in protecting women from domestic violence or children from abusive punishment—or honoring the name of a conquered people—but rather in moving the progressive bar further to the political left by attacking a mainstay of American capitalism—the NFL.  So I tend to support American football as a leisure activity in spite of their altruistic obsession of appeasing those same radicals with the pink ribbon campaigns and 60 minutes of exercise per day for children.  I believe that the Madden Football on Xbox and Playstation does more for children than an entire year of public school as far as teaching them how to think—so I love and support the NFL.

I also love Lovie Smith who has always been and continues to be a stand up guy who coaches in a unique way as a mentor first, and a leader desiring to win second.  This could be said of the Glazer ownership as well which I have spoken about in great detail over the years.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneer organization from the top to the bottom is a class act and a great enhancement to the Tampa Bay region.  Lovie Smith is the perfect kind of fit for the type of coach the Glazers had been looking for.  But after a terrible, embarrassing loss to the Atlanta Falcons—a division rival, I had no hope that the Bucs could bounce back and beat the Steelers playing in Pittsburg—where the home team almost never loses.  The mountain of improbability was just too high.  I didn’t even put my flags out for the first time in about 8 years.  I watched the game out of loyalty but I didn’t want to put too much emotional investment into a team that was obviously struggling with Lovie’s team philosophy. I didn’t even get excited much when the Bucs came out and sacked Big Ben in the opening moments jumping up to a 10-0 first quarter score.  The Steelers made some adjustments and came back to get the lead and held it until the closing moments of the game—but with 7 seconds left on the clock, the Bucs mounted a valiant comeback—held their poise and won the game.  It was very impressive, and if I had my cannons out, I would have shot them as seen in that Bud Light commercial.

I don’t care if the Bucs win another game this season—that win was one that I’ll never forget.  Hopefully the organization will build on that victory and step will into the future.  For all the talk about the recent Hall-of-Fame inclusions of Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, and soon John Lynch, Ronde Barber, and probably Mike Alstott, Tony Dungy, along with many others—the Bucs have been living in the past—happy to have their one Super Bowl win in 2002.  The ownership has tried to recapture that magic, but the results have been average.  There have been some great wins, and some fun Sundays, but the Bucs have not been able to rekindle the magic of their Hall-of-Fame players.  The Steelers on the other hand have a whole hallway of Super Bowl wins and a legacy of success that is unmatched.  Their current head coach is a former Buccaneer coach and has had great accomplishments in Pittsburg.  The reason it is so hard to win in Pittsburg is because the fans expect success from their team—and nothing less.  That is obvious when Pittsburg comes to Cincinnati to play which is four hours away to the south—there are nearly as many Steeler fans in the stands of a home game with the Bengals who follow the team to away games with great enthusiasm.  They do the same in Cleveland, and Baltimore creating a very intimidating fan base that rattles visiting teams during every Steeler home game.

It would have been very hard for Lovie Smith to prepare his team after such a daunting loss to get back on the horse and prepare for the Steelers—where the odds were against them in every category.  The NFL world was shocked to see the Bucs steal a win against the valiant Steelers—yet it happened in a convincing way.  Even when I thought the game was over with only a minute left—Pittsburg had the ball forcing Tampa to use all their timeouts—the defense put the screws to a very good Steeler offense.  The big difference in the game was that Gerald McCoy was back in the middle forcing the Steelers to attempt to run the ball to the outside where speedy linebackers were there to pick up the attempt.  The defense held, and the Bucs got the ball back with 30 seconds left to march down the field and score a touchdown.  Mike Glennon—the back-up quarterback throwing to a guy who was signed only the week before—who was cut after the pre-season, caught the ball on a slot reception and nearly made it into the in-zone.  Two plays later Vincent Jackson caught a touchdown stunning the football world.

After the game the Bud Light commercial featuring Warren Sapp and the Buccaneer themed living room came on again and it was just more revered the second time—because of the win.  There are a lot of metaphors in football that can be applied to life and it is games like the one between the Bucs and Steelers that serve as testimony to all of them.  Even when the odds are terribly stacked against you and you appear to be out-classed in every category—if you believe you can win, it’s the first step in marching down the field to get a victory—against all odds.  And in such times it takes a coach who is willing to spit in the wind of convention and not surrender to the temptation to lose his cool that can convince his team of young saplings that they can achieve the most audacious feat only a week after receiving the most embarrassing loss of their lives.  Lovie Smith is a great coach if for no other reason than the way he handled himself before and after the Pittsburg Steelers game of 2014.  It was a game that belonged featured in the Bud Light commercial “Up for Whatever Happens” because in the closing seconds on a brilliant autumn afternoon in the Midwest—it did.

Rich Hoffman



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