The Buccaneers Fired Dirk Koetter and the Bengals Finally Fired Marvin Lewis: To win you have to get rid of a problem, especially in areas of management

One of the reasons I am still a Tampa Bay Buccaneer fan after many seasons of losing is because the organization as ran by the Glazer family is always on a quest to find the right combination of coaching to match with the players they have on the field to be victorious. If they fall short, they do not hesitate to fire their coaches such as they did Sunday afternoon at the end of their season after losing to the Atlanta Falcons. Dirk Koetter had been with the team for three years but it was obvious with all the weapons the Bucs had on the field to use that the coaches just didn’t have an approach, and they ended the season with just five wins, most of them coming at the beginning. I thought Dirk Koetter was a pretty good guy, not the worst coach in the world, but even after victories after he’d hand out game balls to star players, there was something not quite right about him, and that surely turned up on the field. The Bucs organization is quick to determine that someone is working out and they fire them when its apparent that things just aren’t going to change which is precisely why I continue to love the Tampa Bay Buccaneer organization as a whole. They may not win every game, but at least they try to.

That is why the Bengals in Cincinnati should have terminated their relationship with Marvin Lewis years ago. The guy just doesn’t get it. They have stuck with him for 16 lackluster seasons and the results have never been good. He should have been fired many years ago because it was disrespectful to the Bengals fans who pay premium money for the NFL experience to expect them to put up with Marginal Marvin for so long. The resentment was obvious at the stadium even under the best of circumstances. I had gone to the game this year with good club seat tickets to watch Tampa Bay play the Bengals in Cincinnati on a beautiful October day just before Halloween. It was an absolutely perfect day for the NFL experience in a big city with real playoff implications, because at the time both teams were in the hunt. And the Bengals won that day so everyone should have been happy. But virtually everyone from the vendors selling beer to the men in the restroom talking to each other about the game across urinals were talking about how they were surprised that Marvin Lewis hadn’t found a way to blow the game. Any kind of respect for Marvin Lewis had left Cincinnati a long time ago, yet Mike Brown had stuck with him perpetually with no end in sight.

In any kind of successful organization, you can’t be trigger happy either. You have to give a new coach time to implement a change culture of winning from losing, and that should take a year or two. But in the NFL fans are the ones paying the bills, its unrealistic to expect them to put up with a bad team for more than a few years and still retain their season ticket packages. A lot of people say that Mike Brown doesn’t care about such things so long as he has a profitable television contract which I find hard to believe. As a businessman of any kind it is stupid to leave any money on the table and you don’t get to be as rich as the Brown family is by being stupid. I just don’t think they know what they are doing as football people. The father Paul Brown did understand, but his family didn’t and it shows.

The Bengals have been living in the past, they have had a couple of Superbowl appearances in the 1980s but nothing since and they are hanging their hat on that one achievement. Meanwhile the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won a Superbowl back in 2003 for a great 2002 season which had been many years in the making. But that was then, the world we live in is very much a what have you done for me lately reality. While at that Bengals game I wore my 2002 Superbowl victory hat for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and people kept saying to me that it was silly to wear that hat because it was a long time ago. I would then say to them with friendly banter that I would be happy to wear the Bengals Superbowl victory hat if they could get me one. Of course, that was when laughter from both sides exploded at the absurdity of it. But why should it be absurd?

The NFL is designed to give every city with an NFL team a shot at victory. I view much of the NFL structure as an entirely socialist enterprise where winners are penalized, and losers are boosted up, particularly in regard to draft picks. But this is because the goal of the NFL is to sell tickets and merchandise and if a team doesn’t make it to the big dance at least once a decade their fan base cools it in regard to spending. People generally support their home town team, but they don’t necessarily dream of a new football jersey for Christmas for a losing team. They want to at least thing that there is a chance at victory. Those are the basics of business. Yet in Cincinnati we have been asked to put up with losing as a reality and that goes against so many raw emotions for which the NFL experience depends. To stick with a coach like Marvin Lewis for so long because he’s a nice guy, which he is, or because he’s a progressive employment option that earns street credibility with the very progressive NFL isn’t enough to justify what they have asked fans to endure. You don’t keep a coach because of being nice or black, but because they win. That is the only objective in playing professional football—winning.

I would love to cheer on the Cincinnati Bengals. But I will always love the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and will spend quite a lot of money flying down to a game or two from time to time to blow many thousands of dollars on the Tampa economy because the Glazer family are always trying to do what they have to do to win. If the Bucs don’t win a single game in the whole season, I will still cheer them on. It didn’t surprise me at all that just a few hours after losing to Atlanta that Dirk Koetter was terminated as the head coach. It would have surprised me if he hadn’t been fired. But after the Bengals lost against the dreaded Steelers, YET AGAIN, it wouldn’t have surprised me if the Bengals had signed Lewis to a 150 year contract extension—but under tremendous public pressure, they finally fired Marvin Lewis. Because the Bengals have become synonymous to losers, and that is a terrible thing to bestow on a city that has supported that team through many years of lackluster performance. It’s a terrible disrespect to a community that doesn’t deserve it and I do feel sorry for Bengal fans. At least for me I can look forward to positive changes in the Buccaneer organization which gives me hope for an upcoming season of victory. That season may be over by the upcoming October, but at least they are trying. The Bengals are like drunken gamblers who have lost their life savings at a slot machine. They just keep pulling the lever and hoping for a new car. But all they ever get are lemons. Hopefully their next coach will be a real one.

Rich Hoffman

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Mike Brown is Terrible for the Cincinnati Bengals: Embracing a losing mentality is bad for creating value for his customer base

Long ago I wrote an article about why the Cincinnati Bengals would never be a championship team, even if they could load their team with all first-round draft picks. It was never about talent; the Bengals have always had great talent that was worth watching. I usually go to a few games a year even though I am not particularly keen on the Bengals because of their losing reputation, and I really enjoy watching Carlos Dunlap play, along with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. There are others as well. There is a lot to like about having the Bengals in Cincinnati and the NFL experience in general, but I typically don’t get very excited about them because of their front office approach to the customer base. Mike Brown as an owner never really understood what his role was as an owner and people do resent him for it. Sure they buy the product the way people in Russia bought bread during the height of communism, because there wasn’t any other option. Mike Brown was happy to just barely get by and keep his team in the black financially, but he has shown that he doesn’t care about the customer in the stands buying his product.

Since I do love the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I did go to the home Bengal game when they played in Cincinnati at the end of October. Tampa Bay has been good some years and not so good other years, like this year. But what I see out of their organization every year is an attempt to win. They may get the combinations wrong, but at least they try, so I remain a loyal fan. As many who have read here for years know, I became a Tampa Bay fan because Mike Brown fired Sam Wyche when he was the head coach of the Bengals back in 1992 for one bad season. I never thought it was fair and I followed Sam Wyche to Tampa and remained a fan even after all the many coaching changes there because I simply think the Glazers are good owners and I cheer for their teams because I like them as people. Good people, good product, good public. Tampa Bay is a great place to watch a game win or lose, because you always feel they are trying.

However, after the Buc, Bengal game on a very beautiful day in Cincinnati where the home team held on to win in a close game that was very exciting I was in the Club section using the restroom after and by the way the fans were talking you’d think that the Bengals had lost. The talk after the game was that it was a miracle that Marvin Lewis didn’t find a way to lose the game, not that the home town Bengals had won, and I actually felt sorry for the team. Honestly, the Bengals played a good game. The Bucs at the time were playoff contenders so there was a lot for Bengal fans to be happy about. But the reputation of the team has left a fog over the entire organization that was costing them millions and millions of dollars and it was quite embarrassing.

Like I said, I go to a few games a year. I love the Club section because it’s usually a business class of people and I like the indoor amenities. There’s room to get up and walk around that you don’t get throughout the rest of the stadium. But I noticed that during the entire game almost no seats around us filled up with people. While the season ticket holders and hard-core blue-collar fans who have invested many of thousands of personal dollars into the Bengals and are willing to overlook the Bengal faults due to their own large investments into the NFL experience, the business class people see clearly what is going on with the Bengal organization and they aren’t supporting them even when they get free tickets through business associations. They simply have better things to do with their lives than watch losers play. Because business people know that even when losers sometimes win by accident, they are still losers, and that is the state of the current Bengal ownership under Mike Brown and they reject the product wholesale. When you can’t even give away free tickets, there is a problem with the product.

In business we are all trained, especially these days to give value to the customer, the people who pay for your product. If they aren’t getting value, what incentive do they have to continue using the product. The days of old top down relationships with the customer that large companies and monopolies had could afford to ignore the customer experience somewhat. For instance, the reason GM is failing isn’t because of large tariffs, but because they have a lackluster labor force that builds bad cars people don’t want. People bought them back when only America was building cars. But when there are better options, people will go where their value is massaged. In the case of GM put a Chevy Cruz next to a Toyota Corolla and the differences are obvious. I personally still support the GM brand, my family likes the cross-overs, but for sedans, there isn’t any question as to quality between the two. It’s the same with the NFL, Mike Brown thinks that just having a professional football team is all it takes, and up until a few years ago he was partially right. People were happy to have an NFL team in their city whether they were winners or losers, just the experience was worth the cost of the product. But times have changed, where the Bengals haven’t.

With the advent of Fantasy Football and the video game culture of Madden, the new generation of football fans are less inclined to love the home town team as they are players that they can invest in. The loyalty to the team as a whole has been broken up in these days of more individualized experiences such as we see with the smart phone revolution. That means that if a football team doesn’t occasionally win a big championship fans will drift away onto other interests, and the product will be permanently impacted. It’s a simple value stream kind of thing that any business would track trying to ensure that the customer experience is something they could build a business on. The Mike Brown assumption that people will buy his product regardless of what decisions he makes is really quite an insult especially to the business class people who spend their entire work week trying to figure out how to make their customers happy only to spend their leisure time getting spit in the face by Mike Brown. The final straw for Cincinnati fans was a few years ago when the Bengals were winning a playoff game against Pittsburg and they blew the ending with stupid penalties. Marvin Lewis stuck by those players not trying to recruit better personalities in the offseason and for smart people, they saw a lazy coach who was just riding the cart Mike Brown was pushing. And that was why fans were in the bathroom on a really wonderful day with a Bengal win against a good team complaining about Marvin Lewis when they should have been celebrating.

Whether the product is government, entertainment, or general business, the first obligation is to the people who give you money for that service. A few years ago when there was only the Post Office, there wasn’t anywhere to complain about the lazy postal worker who carelessly threw mail on our front porches. But with the rise of FedEx and UPS, that changed. The same with phone companies, it used to be that if you made a call outside of your home zip code, you would be charged for long distance communication. Now there are many communication options and those costs are long gone. And when it comes to sports, there are lots and lots of options and these days it’s actually more fun to watch them on the big magnificent televisions in the comfort of our homes. I still like to hear the roar of a crowd and see things in person, but if the customer experience sucks, I’ll just stay home. And that is what is happening to the Bengals. I wish I hadn’t been right all those years ago, but as usual, unfortunately I was. The Bengals under Mike Brown ownership will never win a championship. He has disrespected the customer base to a point that it will never recover and that’s a shame. Especially when Cincinnati has given him so much by way of tax relief and other benefits. Mike Brown didn’t respect Cincinnati enough to at least try to win. He is happy with mediocrity and his insult to all of us is that he insists that we like it.

I’d love to love the Bengals and take my grandkids down to the field to get autographs by really good people and players like Carlos Dunlap. But because of Mike Brown’s terrible leadership, I just can’t.

Rich Hoffman

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The “Fitzmagic” Show in Tampa Bay: A study in leadership that everyone could learn from

I haven’t been too keen on the NFL experience over the last couple of years. My favorite team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are always fun to watch, even when they haven’t had very good seasons, but so far this year they look spectacular. And there are some things worth discussing about what makes winning teams great that gives sports a unique way to express the abstract psychology of success. Of course I didn’t start this season with very high hopes as Jameis Winston got in trouble yet again for sexually molesting a young woman, this time an Uber Driver. And I haven’t been too impressed with Dirk Koetter as a head coach. I love the owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and have supported their continued efforts at being a great team by making changes every year to be competitive, but the results just haven’t been there for me, so I didn’t enter this season too excited about them or the NFL. But after two games and two wins to start the season against very good teams in the Saints and Eagles, there are some things worth talking about that involve the spirit of winning and nature of teamwork.

At the heart of this sudden success is the backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick who has had back to back 400-yard games. Honestly, I think the playbook in Tampa Bay is so good, and to their credit, the team went out and filled the offense with great receivers and a good line that most quarterbacks could be successful under those conditions. But it’s what Fitzpatrick does as a leader that has made that team come together in a really special way. It’s not the typical kind of thing that Xs and O analysis can quantify, but it is unmistakable when you see it. Leadership ability is probably the most valuable attribute in any business. We build our sports recreation as a society to exhibit it when we can and as fans we marvel when we see it. And for Fitzpatrick maybe it took him until age 35 to finally figure out how to put it all together. Maybe the three-game suspension to Jameis Winston was the greatest thing to ever have happened to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because it allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to start the season knowing he was the starting quarterback and getting reps with the first team and at this point in his career he could afford to play loose. But nobody thought this was going to happen where he has been the best player on offense in the NFL for two consecutive weeks.

You can always tell when someone who is supposed to be a leader is faking it, and that has been the case of Jameis Winston. He’s a young kid with great charisma, but he has been trying too hard to establish himself and that is why Tampa Bay hasn’t been winning the last couple of years. If you can’t get the team to buy into the team leader at the quarterback position, then its going to be a long season. But sometimes a kid like Jameis just never really gets it. The same can be said about Cam Newton. Great raw talent, very likable personality, but when he’s down, he pulls the whole team down. And when he’s up, he pulls everyone up. But when a savvy veteran like Fitzpatrick gets a shot with over 15 years of experience to show his stuff without the pressure of being a franchise quarterback, then it’s a special thing that we often don’t see.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is having fun playing the game of football and it shows, and the rest of the team has rallied behind his enthusiasm. He was given a good team by management to work with, a starting job due to the suspension and a setting sun on his own career to make a point and he is simply a smart guy utilizing all those conditions. So they are calling it Fitzmagic in Tampa Bay what has happened to the team since the old quarterback started throwing the ball all over the place and raising the level of play for the entire team with his natural leadership. That leadership has been on display before with other teams, and it was obvious last year on the HBO series Hardknocks but with Jameis as the starting quarterback, and with the very expensive price tag of the franchise player, Fitzpatrick had to be happy to be a backup and help wherever he could.

So the ticker fell his way, he gained a starting job and if the Buccaneers are smart, which I think they are, they’ll keep Fitzpatrick in that starting job. Jameis Winston has been reckless and is still learning about natural leadership, so there is no reason he should be the starting quarterback when Fitzpatrick is obviously in a special place that many teams would kill for to discover among their roster. Leadership, especially natural leadership, is the most precious commodity in any business and with Fitzpatrick Tampa Bay as a football organization has found one. He’s the right guy at the right time and he is old enough to understand this time in history. That much was clear when he did his press conference after the Eagle’s game dressed up in an outfit from DeSean Jackson. All great leaders know how to have fun under the intense pressure of expectation and in that one gesture and very mature press conference where Fitzpatrick gave credit to the entire team for the win when the entire story could have been about his second consecutive 400 yard game, he showed that he had the heart of the team and the best shot at a chance to win a Super Bowl in 2018.

I still watch sports because I’m always hoping for these types of stories in the dialogue of the action. I have been a Buccaneer fan all these years during winning times and not so winning times because I know the owners are committed to finding just such a combination every year. They are always trying to win and when they aren’t they make moves in coaching and players to position themselves. And all that work has paid off. Even when their franchise guy went down due to a suspension and the schedule for the start of their year looked ominous. The Bucs have the Pittsburg Steelers on this coming Monday Night Football on prime-time television. The organization went the extra mile to sign Fitzpatrick. I couldn’t help but notice that the yards after the carry from Jackson, Evans, and Howard had just a little more swagger to them likely because they believe in Ryan Fitzpatrick. If that team keeps playing like that, they very much likely will be a Super Bowl team. And out of all the bad stories regarding the NFL lately, especially the flag drama from spoiled brat football players, the joy of such games come from watching teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hitting everything on all cylinders. It is a thing of beauty to watch and is very rare in any sport. But at this point in time the Fitzmagic show in Tampa is the hottest ticket in town and it’s a story that the NFL badly needs, and I’m very glad to see it happening.

Rich Hoffman

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Failure of the Nordic Model: What the world needs to learn from America

The best argument against the Nordic Model type of socialism so advocated today by progressives, Democrats and socialists—like Bernie Sanders is not necessarily the quality of living which can be argued as whether or not it is good—it’s the type of people the cultures produce under those heavily taxed, and controlled societies. Advocates for the Nordic Model declare, which is appealing to an American society currently drowning in college debt–which is likely the perpetual strategy of the progressive political class—just as it is behind every public school levy—is that the education is free, average median income is high, and lifestyles are good—there’s parks, lots of government services, and the trappings of an otherwise utopian society that seems wonderful to those who find the challenges of capitalism to be ominous. Nordic societies have given up on the gifts provided by brilliant and ambitious citizens in favor of collective comfort and the cost to their society is a mundane culture of generally happy people just content to live and die like in the movie Soylent Green.

I once had a friend who was a Penthouse model from Sweden who was so in love with American life that she oozed it in every aspect of her life. Her reason was that Sweden was so encumbered with socialism that she found that society stifling. As a beautiful woman she had an advantage over the average Swedish female, yet that society didn’t give her many options to take advantage of her exceptional good looks. So she came to America, posed for a men’s magazine, found herself a very rich husband and lived a generally good life shrouded by the trappings of capitalism, and she loved it. I learned a lot about Swedish society through her, and the conclusion was that I would feel choked by it—it was far too limiting for me.

Now becoming a nude model for a soft porn magazine is hardly a noble profession, nor is marrying a sugar daddy husband the result of enormous skill. But in America that was an option for her which was not an option in Sweden. There weren’t that many rich guys looking for a beautiful woman to pamper—because everybody pretty much had the same level of income. For a girl like the model, there was certainly a glass ceiling limiting her ability to the collective opinion of the masses—so she came to America. Her story is just a microcosm of the type of people who come from other places to take advantage of the gifts of capitalism to make their lives better, and overall enrich the level of life for everyone in the overall culture. Arnold Schwarzenegger could have told a similar story as my model friend. In their home cultures they would have just been average every day people, but in American society, the limits to their lives went as far as they were willing to take it.

These are examples of entertainment personalities who found success in America and it should be considered as a representation of American culture the kind of entertainment that is exported—such as the motion picture industry. What great Nordic films are breaking box office records around the world these days……………………………..(crickets). What great companies besides IKEA are spreading across the world as a result of Nordic Model economies……………………..(still crickets)…………………anybody? What great sports stars, musical influence, new computer technology have emerged from Nordic Model society? How about novelists? Who are the great writers who are shaping philosophy coming out of Sweden, Finland or Norway? (still crickets) That is the problem with Nordic Model societies. They may have a nice standard of living for the average person, but their culture ends up being happy to just be happy leaving their exceptional people with no place to go but to regulate themselves into mediocrity. And the mediocre do not advance human civilization. They never have, and they never will.

In America mediocrity is acceptable. People are free to ride on the coat tails of the exceptional all the time. Last week during the NFL draft many exceptional young men received the opportunity toward fortune and glory by being drafted into an NFL team. For me the excitement centered around Jameis Winston who was drafted by my favorite team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Given all the headaches centering on the young man from the rape allegations, and the theft of crab legs, the organization took a chance on the 21-year-old quarterback out of Florida State because they were looking for an exceptional leader for their football team. They deemed his talent as so exceptional that they bent over backwards to get him, and had a signed contract within 24 hours of drafting him. When Jameis arrived in Tampa the day after the draft the hungry city treated him like a king reborn pampering him like he was a god. It was quite extraordinary, and was evidence of the recognition that they saw in the young man a chance to win once again. Winston would not have had an opportunity like that as a 6’-4” man of color in Sweden. He might get a chance to play soccer, but that’s about it. In America Winston had the opportunity to play football, baseball, maybe even basketball and to become a multi-millionaire well before the age of 30. Life is good for Jameis Winston and for fans in Tampa Bay; they are free to ride on his coat tails to future victory—or at least the chance of it. The reason that ownership, the coaches, the fans, players and much of Tampa Bay showed up at the training facility to welcome Winston to Tampa as a savor of the franchise was not because of some ridiculous notion of team, or a collective recognition of the common enhanced by a quality player—it was because Jameis Winston as an individual is a great football player and there are parades of people willing to fall into his wake to benefit from his individual heroics.

Who are the Steve Jobs types in Nordic society, or the Elon Musk types? What about Bill Gates–who is the equivalent of those billionaire inventors in Sweden?   I’m sure they have a few, but per capita how many creative types are inventing a new means of wealth in the Nordic Model? The answer is that there are far more people per capita under a capitalist society that have great success than those in a socialist country who manages to leverage their interests with the government in charge to become one of the rare elite. There is no reason for anybody to work to do anything great in the Nordic Model because everyone is comfortable just being average. It pays in a Nordic Model society to be average, so nobody does anything exceptional. That is the terrible cost of socialism under any guise.

A classroom of well-behaved children is not necessarily a good thing if what’s snuffed out is their individuality and the imaginations of their specific gifts. In America if a person has developed something that they can do better than anybody else, they can have a shot at the American dream—at riches and a lifestyle typically reserved for kings and nobility in European cultures—and it galls the world to no end that Americans have little respect for the ways of the past, where a select few ruled the many. Even if a person is physically ugly, they may do something so much better than someone else that they can have a shot at wealth. Socialism simply takes the monarchy of thought into government rule as opposed to a heredity rule. It is still the rule of a minority of the majority in trade for safety and security.

Ohio Senator Shannon Jones, who I used to like when she showed a willingness to take on labor unions—has now lost my support forever. Why, because she proposed a bill that says children should have to ride a bicycle with a helmet. Give me a break! What an utterly stupid rule! Government telling little kids that they have to wear a helmet to ride a bicycle—those helmets are hot, and stifling to the impulse of jumping on a bike and riding over to a friend’s house as needed. Helmets are a ridiculous imposition created by that panic driven mom class who think their children are so precious that every bump on the head is a life or death situation. Then when those overly coddled children do have a major crises in their life, like they end up in a car wreck where they bleed a lot, or end up in some other catastrophe, they end up dying because they have not been trained to withstand physical punishment, and then the mothers really lose their children just because they allowed their lives to be governed by panic and a drive for safety at any cost. The product of such children are a kind of limited life stuck in a bottle living their entire lives slightly detached from reality—which is ironically the kind of people produced by the Nordic Model. Shannon Jones belongs in the Nordic Model socialism that wants government imposed bicycle helmets at the cost of individual liberty and the potential evolution exceptional people. I never rode with a helmet and I had lots of wrecks. I learned exceptionally well how to roll out of trouble and protect my head from trauma. To this day I ride motorcycles every day often without a helmet and I’ve been in crashes at well over 100 mph. Because of my childhood I developed an ability to survive that is exceptional—something I wouldn’t have developed if I would have been forced to wear a helmet as a kid. If that was how it was when I was a kid, I likely would have just stayed inside and done something else—and said heck with riding a bicycle.

America is great because it creates the path for the exceptional to move away from the control of overly coddling government types like Shannon Jones. Sure people like the Penthouse model, Jameis Winston, or Elon Musk are the exception, but in a Nordic Model society, they would be stuffed into a jar for the common good. Their entire society would miss the gifts of their exceptionalism even if the benefits are as small as a nude woman in a magazine, or the wonderful technology coming out of Space X. The cost of the socialist society even if everything seems comfortable on the surface is that people live half dead lives in a kind of haze because there is no purpose to their life, no dreams to reach for, no fantasies to pursue. They just live and die guided quietly by the state toward an inevitable end comfortably put down to rest in service to the great collective.  Only the collective isn’t so great when compared to individuals produced by a capitalist society. Of course the masses will always have the bottom feeders. Those types will happily cheer on Jameis Winston with godlike reverence and dream of sleeping with women like the Penthouse model. And they’ll love the products of Apple and Tesla. And they may even dream of being one of those people one day. The opportunity of having that dream is worth more than the comfort of the Nordic Model. Sure kids with helmets on a bicycle may live if they fall down and bump their head. But the cost in using the helmet often slowly kills their minds in other ways. And those ways are the difference between the Nordic Model and a capitalist society. The evidence of which is the best method can be measured directly by which one produces better people for the society at large. And the winner of that race is obvious. Just go to the movies and see which culture tells their story best on the silver screen.

Rich Hoffman


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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


Sam Wyche and Hardy Nickerson Inventors of ‘A Bucs Life’: Tampa Bay Bucs hire Lovie Smith as head coach

Long before there was an internet I remember specifically picking up a copy of The Tampa Tribune at a Cincinnati area Borders Books and Music and eating a fabulous breakfast at Perkins while reading about the very dynamic changes that my favorite football coach Sam Wyche was bringing to the fledgling  Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  One of those changes was in uniform, one of the others was the free agent acquisition of Hardy Nickerson from the Pittsburg Steelers.  Between Nickerson and Wyche the two paved the way for what became the Tony Dungy Era Buccaneers.  For me Wyche as an NFL coach was way in front of the train, he was the first coach to teach Joe Montana, he invented the no huddle offense, pissed off most of the NFL and beat writers all over the country and was a pure bred innovator.  He was bringing to Tampa—a team swimming in corruption from its owner Hugh Culverhouse’s three extramarital affairs–passion, drive, and conviction.  Hugh gave Wyche free control to make the Bucs into something great, and that is just what Sam went to do.  Nickerson was the first block that would become a wall built for the next four years in a defense that produced Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and many other notables.  Nickerson hung around till 1999 teaching those young Buc defenders how to become Hall of Fame material.  In 2013 Sapp was inducted, in 2014 Tony Dungy, Brooks and Lynch are all finalists.  When Hugh died, Wyche was on the out as the Glazer family wanted to bring their own kind of guy in as coach, Tony Dungy which was an excellent choice.  But Tony only honed off the edges of a team that Wyche built.  Of that group was the upcoming line backer coach Lovie Smith.  Now, twenty years later replacing the hard copy newspaper with the internet and an iPad, I am once again reading exciting news about the Buccaneers.  Lovie Smith has been hired to be the new head coach after a few years with Greg Schiano did not produce winning seasons.  And Lovie hired Hardy Nickerson to be his linebacker coach.  An explosion of fun is headed for Tampa.  For me it all started with the kind of intensity, and innovation seen in the clip below—with Hardy Nickerson and Sam Wyche—the coach who started it all in Tampa.

During this last season when my enemies wanted to give me a rough way to go they ribbed me incessantly about the Bucs terrible record.  Under Schiano they started off the 2013 season 0 and 8 and knowing a bit about the Glazers, I knew the writing was on the wall.  They fired Sam Wyche after four losing seasons even though he had some dramatic wins and brought to the team a dynamic that it had not had before.  The Glazers fired the great Tony Dungy after getting repeatedly to the playoffs but not going to a Superbowl and hired Jon Gruden.  Then Gruden was fired to give Raheem Morris a chance, a long time coach for the Bucs as the ownership was looking for a new Lovie Smith or Mike Tomlin—both guys had come into the NFL through Tampa Bay.  When Raheem didn’t work out the Bucs went outside the box in hiring Schiano from Rutgers.  When Schiano started 2013 flat, I knew he was gone and I told my enemies that.  I still listened to the games and paid attention to the team for pure entertainment, but I knew the Glazers would pull the trigger at the end of the season—and they did.  They fired Schiano on “Black Monday” a day where 5 NFL coaches lost their jobs, and by Wednesday even over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day hired Lovie Smith by Wednesday.  When Lovie did not take an NFL job during 2013 after being let go from the Chicago Bears in 2012 for not going to the playoffs that year with a 10 – 5 season I assumed the Glazers were talking to Smith to resurrect some of the old magic from the Dungy era—a period of time paved by Sam Wyche and Hardy Nickerson.  So when I saw that Nickerson was coming back to Tampa not as a player—but a coach—I was ecstatic.  Hardy Nickerson is my kind of player.  He’s a class act, he’s tough, he’s fearless—and now he’s teaching the next generation of Buccaneers how to hit, strip away the ball, and in general wreak havoc against opposing offenses.

Football is a trivial game.  The game itself isn’t any more important in the scheme of life than a typical poker game or a gambling excursion.  Wins and losses come and go and football games are only games.  But for me, people like Wyche, Dungy, and Lovie Smith, are innovators who brought their teams from the back of Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality train to the front.  (See Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance  CLICK HERE)  Football however is the closest thing America has on a high-profile front that represents pure capitalism and the reasons why The United States was able to excel in the past economically while other countries struggled.  Football is an American game built around American philosophy and when Sam Wyche in the clip above pointed to his players warning them not to shake hands with the other players before the game—he meant it.  On the field of battle the other team is the enemy.  The goal is competition, not hugging, kissing, or brown-nosing.  The goal in football is to dominate the other team, and Hardy Nickerson bought into that philosophy—which carried over to players who mentored from him and became Hall of Fame players.

In normal everyday life I yell a lot.  I tend to play at life much the way Hardy Nickerson played the game of football in Tampa Bay and Sam Wyche coached.  In one day this past week I punched a desktop breaking the linoleum top, I threw a chair, sheered the lock of a door by head butting it and yelled at about 30 different people.  I didn’t do these things to be intimidating or to put on a show.  I did it because the passion in my heart had no place else to go and came out in explosive outbursts.  Sam Wyche always had that kind of passion as a coach which is how I became a Buccaneer fan in the first place.   For him it wasn’t fake or a show—it was real, and the players who played for him knew it.  Whether the situation is a football game or everyday life, passion is something that the world needs more of.  There is time for handshaking after the games we all play are done—but in the meantime you have to lay it all out on the field of play and give it everything—and I mean EVERYTHING.

I am very proud of the Glazer family in Tampa—a place I consider my second home.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers just had a 4 -12 season, but I have never been prouder to call myself a fan.  I’m a fan because the Bucs fired a coach two years into a contract so they could abandon the guy and move on to a formula that wins.  That formula might not work, and if it doesn’t, they’ll try again and again and again until it does.  Meanwhile, they are always looking to bring in the type of coaches that made them successful to begin with, and hiring Hardy Nickerson as a member of the coaching staff is a tremendous indicator of just how serious they are about trying to win.  The other NFL team in the town of my primary home is The Cincinnati Bengals who just allowed Marvin Lewis to lose his fifth playoff appearance game.  The owners of the Bengals will bring Marvin back next year, and the year after, and the year after, and the year after so long as the guy wants to coach because they have no idea what they are doing.  They simply hope that their time will come every now and again and wait their turn for a shot at the title.  Unlike the Bucs, they wait for their time to come, while the Glazers try to make their time to come with forward-looking leadership.  Hardy Nickerson and Sam Wyche are the embodiments of that philosophy and are the primary reasons that after all these years from that first peek at the Buccaneer team of 1993 that I am still a fan—and so long as the Glazers own the team—am likely to continue even if they never win again.


There is a lot of talk centering on my little grandson because as a young little guy just over a year old he is already grunting and making animal noises showing a tremendous amount of aggression.  His father was a cage fighter, his mom is my kid, and he’s my grandson—what would anybody expect?  When he sees me he greets me with a growl and a fist pump.  His grunting and growling has been so obvious that people are taking notice and are concerned.  But as a little boy who will grow up to be a man, I know damn well what I’m doing, and my relationship with him will be as such.  The enemy is on the field and you don’t shake hands with them, you don’t whisper sweet nothings to them, you don’t make friends.  You crush them, you pummel them, and you make them beg to come off the field with their very lives forgetting about victory. And those foundations start in the mind.  Once the game is over, shake hands, go to church, and break bread.  But in the meantime conquer, destroy, and win!

That is the way of the world, and makes everything in life—even for the losers—better.  It is in Tampa what they call……………….”A Bucs Life.”

Rich Hoffman