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


Warren Sapp: The Quarterback Killa’ and “Hall of Famer”

One of the best examples of pure capitalism in American culture is Professional Football.  In the rest of the world where socialism is a much stronger presence, soccer is the game of choice and the differences between soccer and American football are extremely obvious, and have been discussed here before.  However, within the game of football there are wonderful examples of teams that are very good and teams that are not.  On this issue I have never been shy to proclaim my love of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and since Ronde Barber has announced his official retirement, I want to spend some time reflecting on the Bucs.  I love that team because the owners are the kind of people who are always striving for quality, perfection, and innovative dynamics.  The Bucs are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum as opposed to a team like the Cincinnati Bengals from my home town who are run by terrible ownership.  The differences between these two teams are just as profound as those between a statist government and a capitalist one.  The Bengals are run by a top-heavy, power-hungry dictator while the Buccaneers are run by a generally hands off bunch of pure capitalists who are performance based.  My love of American football therefore has nothing to do with sports for the sake of evasion, mental distraction or statistical accumulation to be discussed during business relationships.  My love of football is because it always gives me wonderfully dynamic examples of the trouble between statism and capitalism as economic systems.  And for the Buccaneers there was never a player in American football who exemplified why I love Tampa Bay more than Warren Sapp who has just been inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame at a very early age in the balloting.  Yet more than that, on a Monday Night Football game against the rival Miami Dolphins in November of 2013 Warren’s number will be retired and Sapp will be placed on the Buccaneer Ring of Honor in the house that he built at Raymond James Stadium.

The trouble with statist governments that are philosophically built on the premise of socialism is that they attempt to operate without defining who the best among them are.  Their goal is to determine how they can pull down—or mooch off of others to establish equality among all human beings.  But in American football, teams like the ones that the Glazers build are always on the lookout for the “exceptional” individuals who will elevate them into victories.  Since the Buccaneers parted ways with Warren Sapp way back in 2004 due to his expensive price tag but aging performance the Bucs have tried to duplicate the kind of teams they had while Warren Sapp played for them, especially during the years of 1997 to his release in 2004.  Sapp was an emotional leader who increased the performance of everyone around him, so he was the key ingredient to the Buccaneers classic shut down defense.  Broadcasters, coaches, NFL owners, agents and anybody else in the business of professional football tend to believe in statistics using purely mathematical analysis believing falsely that people like Warren Sapp could be easily replaced by new number one draft picks, but even though the Bucs have been very aggressive in trading out coaches, players, and any dynamic they could find with a wonderful facility at One Buc Place in Tampa which watches virtually every college player in the entire country, they have not found another Warren Sapp.  They’ve been looking, but there just hasn’t been one.

High school sports coaches in every school in the country have failed to produce another Warren Sapp.  Out of the thousands of potential defensive tackles, another Warren Sapp has not emerged in the NFL.  But why?  Well, the answer is one that I talk about all the time and with Sapp there is not a better example in professional sports.

Sapp’s mother worked three jobs, yet was always there to wake him up to go to school.  She set in his mind a work ethic that made Sapp a monster on the practice field.  But while his mom was always working and wasn’t home much to care for him, Sapp played football all the time with his older brothers who did everything they could to restrict their younger sibling.  Warren Sapp being a young man with an extremely vicious temper and a yearning to win, never let his older brothers suppress his spirit.  He worked hard to become bigger, stronger, and faster than anybody else.  And if he found that he came up against those who were bigger, stronger, or faster than he was, then he would beat them with superior will-power.

Sapp went on to become a dominate football player at his high school in a suburb of Orlando then was a dominant player at the University of Miami.  He was drafted by the Bucs in 1995 at the start of the Glazer era by Sam Wyche—a man who was nearly as colorful as a coach as Sapp was as a player.  Wyche used to be the head coach for the Bengals before Mike Brown took over the team upon his father’s death.  Sam Wyche was responsible for the famous, “you don’t live in Cleveland” speech to the entire stadium.  Wyche didn’t last long under the statist like Mike Brown, so he became the coach in Tampa back in 1992.  Wyche had some success in Tampa, and was responsible for many of the draft picks that built the team who would go on to win the Superbowl a few years later.  After five years of not taking the Buccaneers to championship form, the Glazers cut Wyche and hired Tony Dungy.  It was under Tony that Sapp found a mentor that was perfect for his personality, and the Buccaneers became arguably the best defense in the NFL for a number of years.

 Sapp is one of only six defensive players in NFL history to make the Pro Bowl, be named Defensive Player of the Year, and win a Super Bowl or NFL title. The others are Joe GreeneJack LambertLawrence TaylorReggie White and Sapp’s former teammate, Derrick Brooks. He is now reckoned as the prototype three-technique defensive tackle; ever since his retirement NFL teams scouting defensive tackles have reportedly been looking for a “Baby Sapp.”[6]

He was selected to 7 Pro Bowls, was named a First-Team All-Pro four times and a Second-Team All-Pro twice, while adding a spot on the 1990s and 2000s All-Decade Teams and, most impressively, earning Defensive Player of the Year honors after an amazing 16.5-sack season in 1999. Sapp was a key player for the imposing Buc defenses of the late ’90s and early ’00s, truly the cog that made that defense go.

Sapp played the game of football like a gladiator in a Roman arena.  He relished the combat of daily play and always understood that for every admirer, he had many who wanted to take him down, so he never let his guard relax on or off the field.  He was often careful to eat food in restaurants in towns where the Buccaneers visited as he was concerned that enemies of his might tamper with his health and he had practice customs before each game that involved skipping through the enemy team’s side of the field to show his dominance over them before a game.  Warren Sapp was geared up for conflict at all hours of every day and he relished it.  It made him better, stronger and faster, a regiment that had started with his mother who worked hard 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and older brothers who constantly challenged him.  Sapp had an extremely colorful career with the Buccaneers and a fighting spirit that other players like Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Mike Alstott, and many others would rally behind to become one of the most animated, and technically proficient sports teams to ever take a field.  But it all started with the extreme charisma of an individual in Warren Sapp which led to many controversies.

Mike Sherman confrontation

On November 24, 2002, at Raymond James Stadium, Sapp drew criticism for a cheap shot on the Green Bay Packers‘ Chad Clifton during an interception return by the Buccaneers. Clifton was jogging down field, away from the main action, and was blindsided by Sapp. Clifton suffered a severe pelvic injury on the play.[10] The hit sent Clifton to the hospital. He was hospitalized for almost a week and could not walk unaided for five more weeks. In 2005, the NFL Competition Committee agreed on new guidelines for “unnecessary roughness”, making hits such as that suffered by Clifton illegal.

In an exchange caught by television cameras following the game, Packers’ coach Mike Sherman approached Sapp and said to him, “That was a chicken shit play.”[11] In response, Sapp screamed repeatedly at Sherman: “You’re so tough? Put on a fucking jersey!”[10] Sherman later called Sapp “a lying, shit-eating hound. … If I was 25 years old and didn’t have a kid and a conscience, I would have given him an ass-kicking right there at the 30-yard line.”[10] Sherman later said of Sapp: “The joviality that existed after [the hit] when a guy’s lying on the ground, with numbness in his legs and fingers, I just thought that wasn’t appropriate for any NFL player.”[11]

The skipping incidents

During pre-game warm-ups of a December 23, 2002 Monday Night Football game at Raymond James Stadium, Warren skipped among the Pittsburgh Steelers players during their pre-game warmups. Steelers running back Jerome Bettis shoved Sapp, and this was followed by a heated argument between the two teams. Sapp felt that he was made an example by the NFL by being fined for that first skipping incident. “That’s all this is about,” said Sapp. “In my nine years in this league, no one’s been fined for verbally abusing officials. It’s unprecedented.”[12] The Buccaneers had been earlier ridiculed by Steelers’ Lee Flowers as being “paper champions.” Despite losing to the Steelers in that game, Sapp and the Buccaneers went on to win Super Bowl XXXVII five weeks later.

In 2003, during an October 6 Monday Night Football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sapp was scolded for skipping through and disrupting the Colts players, who were spread out on the field, stretching during pre-game warmups. There was much anticipation and national interest going into the game, which was the return of former head coach Tony Dungy to Tampa. The Colts wound up erasing a 21-point deficit in the final four minutes, and defeated the Buccaneers 38-35 in overtime, initiating a downslide for the defending champions.

A week later, on October 12, 2003, prior to the game against the Washington Redskins, Sapp was running onto the field when he bumped into an NFL referee. The incident drew a fine of $50,000. Sapp’s response to the fine: “It’s a slave system. Make no mistake about it. Slave master say you can’t do it, don’t do it. They’ll make an example out of you.”[13]

Ejection for unsportsmanlike conduct

On December 23, 2007, Sapp was involved in an altercation with NFL referees near the end of the second quarter of the Raiders’ game at Jacksonville.[14]

The incident began when linesman Jerry Bergman mistakenly assumed that the Raiders wished to decline a Jacksonville 10-yard penalty. Sapp, the defensive captain, began speaking with referee Jerome Boger, indicating that the Raiders instead wished to accept the penalty. The conversation became heated, with Sapp gesturing and swearing. This resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct call by Boger against Sapp. Sapp and his defensive teammates continued interacting with the officials after the penalty was called, resulting in a second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Sapp and another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty assessed against teammate Derrick Burgess. Finally, the coaches and officiating staff entered the field and began physically separating and removing the arguing players. Boger claimed that during this time Sapp “bumped” him; Sapp denies making physical contact. Regardless, at this point Boger levied a third unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Sapp and ejected him from the game. Sapp did not play in the second half and was eventually fined $75,000 by the NFL; Burgess received a $25,000 fine.[15]

Being the best took its toll on Sapp.  He made a lot of mistakes off the field, particularly with women.  He had nobody in his life who could prepare him for what society would do to him while being the best.  He was playing a capitalist game, but the society at large was hell-bent on socialism leaving them empty husks looking to be filled by his beaming personality.  Naturally women threw themselves at him and he accepted causing him and his wife to separate in 2003.  The alimony to all the mothers of his children would eventually bankrupt him once his playing days were over in 2008.  His hard life and multitude of enemies had caught up with him.  As a player who had once had millions of dollars in his pockets, had less than $1000 dollars in his bank account in April of 2012 when he had to finally file for bankruptcy.  Warren’s big problem is that he failed to understand that the world would mooch off him to the extent that they had, and he did not put a stop to it with the same aggression he displayed on the football field.

But he wouldn’t be the first, and he won’t be the last to find that the world is filled with personalities who attach themselves to strong individuals for safety, security and just a fragment of charisma.  They will take, and take and take until there isn’t anything left of such people—and once they’ve done that—they will kick you to the curb and look for someone else to loot, pillage, and crush.  That is the ways of socialism, especially in modern America where a mixed economy allows such things to occur.  When people like Warren Sapp who have hearts as big as their tempers and try to do so much for so many people, but fail to recognize that there is no way to ever stop the perils of socialism when the methods of capitalism are removed from their lives, then the game is truly over.  And for Warren Sapp, it ended in bankruptcy.

But Sapp is a fighter, and he has gotten right back up again from his hard fall in the post football era of his life.  As terrible as the news for him was in 2012 he is now a Hall of Famer during his first year of eligibility and he will now be in the famed Buccaneers Ring of Honor.  He is being brought back into the culture of the Glazer Buccaneers to mentor young players into emulating him so that the Bucs can rise once again to the kind of team it was under his previous leadership.  I have often said I would rather have a man like Warren Sapp on the sideline even if he was a quadriplegic—just for his mind and passion than a whole army of first-round draft picks.  I’d take Warren Sapp for my football team as just a talking head before I’d take a team full of Heisman Trophy winners any day of the week.  Warren Sapp is that special of an individual.

So Warren, I will be there with you when you get your Ring of Honor.  I will be watching.  You are a very special person, especially to my daughter and me.  I have thrown televisions out the front window of my house watching you play for the Buccaneers in anger over calls made against your actions.  I have jumped so hard in my living room that I have cracked the ceiling punching it after one of your sacks.  I have yelled myself hoarse after Buccaneer games that you played.  I have rooted for you as an individual spark that ignited a Buccaneer domination of the NFL and it is because of this era that I still hang a banner dedicated to the Buccaneers in the foyer of my home to greet all who enter.  My daughter and I have enjoyed your life so far and we look forward to many more years of your entertainment.  I watch the NFL commentaries just to see what you have to say because I trust your opinions over those who do not think with the same passion, and determination.   You played the game the way I think and for that I will always be grateful.

Football is a game of capitalism.  What happened to Warren Sapp is his fault in that he didn’t recognize that socialism rules the world outside of a football field, and he discovered tragically that his beaming personality and wonderful work ethic could not generate the kind of income he had become accustom to without a football field under his feet.  When he was allowed to be a gladiator in the arena, the world was his for the taking, and he took it, but outside the stadium, the world took from him, and he gave it away thinking that his dynamic personality and work ethic could always provide what he needed.  But it didn’t.  However, a part of him will always be hanging in Raymond James Stadium, so in a way, Warren Sapp will return to the arena of football to stay.  The Buccaneers will never let another player wear the number of Warren Sapp again—and they never should.  Because it is unlikely that another player like Warren will ever take to the field again, because he was one of a kind, and still is.

You can visit Warren Sapp personally at his website by clicking the link below.

Rich Hoffman

166701_584023358276159_1119605693_n“If they attack first………..blast em’!”

Infectious: The Magic of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it’s not just football

Even though Tampa Bay lost big today it is important to have adversity because it builds character, and when a young team like the Bucs are have been winning at will, they sometimes take things for granted.  So losses are opportunities to build character, because the overall franchise is more than one game and this article is about the “bigger picture.”  The young kids will bounce back and solve their problems, because the foundation beneath the loss is of high quality.  And such a lesson is one everyone faces at some time or another whether it be an individual, or an organization. Winning all the time does not challenge the soul, overcoming something that shakes your foundations do.    And with all the talk on this site about failure in government, it is because they do not go back to the film room and figure out whyThey just ask for a “bailout,” and lose time and again without improvement and use higher taxes to prop up their self-esteem.  A football team does not have the option of raising taxes.  They have to dig deep and improve themselves.

To understand why any group or other interest that stands in the way of innovation infuriates me to the levels it does, I feel I must open the door just a bit more into my personal beliefs since you and I know each other just a bit better than we used to. In my life I am attracted to personalities who reach beyond the static patterns of convention, and in my opinion nothing else is worthy of my attention. I feel that way about my entertainment, my politics, my friends, and my sports. So I ask you dear reader to suspend your thoughts for just a moment, long enough to read this article. It doesn’t matter if you like a different NFL team than me, or even have different politics than I do, just suspend your beliefs for just a while and let me take you into the great temple which is Raymond James Stadium and let me share with you the richness you will find there. Click the video below to see how a football game begins in that palace of ingenuity. (THAT’S WHAT APPEARS ON THE JUMBO TRON)

On any given Sunday in the falling leaves of autumn, at the end of my driveway you will see two flags. You will also see flags all the way up my driveway and on the porch of my house also. And in the living room on football Sunday, it’s always Halloween, even at Christmas, as skulls, smoke machines and more flags are displayed. But the flags at the end of my driveway are special, very special, because they were given to me by the owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers himself and are the focus of my enjoyment of that football team which is run by that very innovative and generous family in one of my favorite cities, Tampa Bay.

To understand the history of why I’m a Tampa Bay Buccaneer fan, please see two of my previous articles on this subject.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an ownership represents much about my own style of management, and ideas about how all organizations should work They have as a franchise produced an extraordinary number of great players, coaches, and personalities who now populate the TV analyst’s booth on every sports channel. But they have done so without a lot of hoopla and fanfare, unless you happen to live in Tampa Bay. To the world outside of Tampa Bay, The Buccaneers are just another NFL team. The media doesn’t really understand why they are special, only that there is something unique going on in the Bay City of Florida that they sometimes contemplate with empty questions, and even emptier answers.

Players have come and gone, and coaches too, but in Tampa Bay there has been a consistency of always being competitive, of at least being an exciting team to watch no matter what year it was. The history of the team runs deep. Unfortunately, because NFL teams cannot afford to keep all their highly paid players, due to business limits, a team like the Buccaneers must always push the limits and dig deep to find ways to win even when they lose their best talent.

After losing coaches like John Gruden, which was a business decision, Monte Kiffin, the future Hall-of-Fame defensive coordinator, Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Derrick Brooks, (due to age) and many, many others including the power running full-back Mike Alstott, Tampa seemed out of cannon balls after nearly a decade of dominate defense and trend setting achievements as a franchise. All over the country, sports reporters were predicting doom and gloom for the Buccaneers. But I wasn’t, and neither were the Glazers. The Glazers knew they had been breeding talent down in Tampa for years and decided that if they were losing all that great talent on all sides of the ball, including coaches that they needed to look internally for the next great coach to build their team and maintain their reputation. The Glazers were not looking to an “outsider” to just merely win games in Tampa Bay. The Glazers wanted to preserve their culture that they had built, a static culture that required someone who had always been there and grown up in the organization all along, starting as a very young man.

It wasn’t hard for me to predict that Raheem Morris would be the next head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs had lost Mike Tomlin to the Pittsburg Steelers who was a coach in Tampa just a few years prior, and they weren’t going to lose the much sought after assistant coach in Raheem to another team, because Morris had grown up with all those great players and coaches on the inside, and the Glazers had enough understanding of what they brought to the NFL to keep a coach who could maintain their culture with a dynamic personality full of energy. So the Bucs promoted Raheem Morris to head coach and defensive coordinator, which was unprecedented in the NFL and drew much criticism from virtually every expert in the industry. Many were saying that Tampa Bay Buccaneer Football was on its way out.

Except me…….and I let Bryan Glazer know it after a series of terrible loses where the youngest head coach in the NFL was struggling through his first season with a decimated team lost to free agency, and age. But Raheem is the kind of guy who never quits, and his personality is as my wife says……infectious, so it was only a matter of time before Raheem turned things around and got the Tampa Bay Buccaneers playing the caliber of football everyone expected from this very dynamic organization, a team that could live up to that Jumbo Tron intro. Bryan sent me those flags in thanks because it was a tough time for he and his family. Virtually everyone was calling them stupid, cheap, and out-of-touch for hiring Morris when Bill Parcels had indicated he wanted the Tampa job, and news analysts were chipping away at the Glazer family credibility at every opportunity. But they trusted their instincts and stayed with Morris, and I thought a kind word would go a long way in their darkest hour. So Bryan sent me those flags in thanks. Those flags aren’t the kind you can buy from a street vender or even on EBay. They are only passed out during home playoff games, so they are very rare. Bryan gave me the ones he had on his desk.

Meet Raheem Morris here, and let him show you around the Tampa Bay Organization:

I love his energy! One of the first things he did after his first dismal season was draft Josh Freeman, which drew an extraordinary amount of criticism, because many felt that Freeman was not a marquee quarterback, because there were much higher profile quarterbacks on the block and that Morris was out-of-his mind for taking Freeman!

Most fans had the same reaction as that guy, but Raheem knew what he was doing and the Glazers trusted his decisions, even if everyone in the world thought Raheem Morris was out of his mind. In this early interview, you can see much of what Morris saw in the young Josh Freeman, a mature kid even-keeled who would not panic in the 4th quarter under pressure and would provide a stable platform all the other players could build themselves around.

Another controversial player that Raheem Morris went after which nobody understood was LeGarrette Blount, a fiery young running back from Oregon who seemed to have a very violent temper. Blount would have been drafted higher if not for this fight which would haunt him even to this very day, as sports analysts will not forget the incident. Blount is one of those people who were destined to fall between the cracks because nobody with any sort of vision would look beyond his brutal will to fight, which was mistaken as a ruthless will to win, at any cost.

I saw the game with Blount and I noticed how he squared his shoulders to invite the fight, and was not afraid. He seemed to run the ball the same way, without fear and with a fury. I saw something unique in the kid, and Morris obviously saw the same thing. But the Tennessee Titans missed this genius, because Blount’s fighting didn’t stop in the Titans training camp, again, here is a kid who will fight for every inch and does not understand what the word “quit” is. Here is Blount in just a practice where he loses his helmet and still won’t let the defense stop him, which triggers a violent exchange.

Raheem convinced the Buccaneer Organization to sign Blount as an unsigned free agent once the Titans cut him. Because Morris has such an “infectious” personality, Tampa Bay was able to get a hold of a player similar to Warren Sapp only on the offensive side of the ball. Tampa for the first time since Mike Alstott had a runner in the back-field that could pound the ball in a way the Buc fans had come to expect. Warren Sapp had the calm and cool Tony Dungy to keep Sapp from flying apart in rage. And Blount now had the bubbly and good personality of Morris to compliment his very natural aggression and provide leadership and direction so that LeGarrette Blount could be what he was built to be, one of the greatest running backs of this modern age.

LeGarrette Blount is pure, raw energy, but the credit to giving this kid a chance, belongs to Raheem Morris. Have a look at what Blount has been able to do for the Bucs.

The organization isn’t just those two guys. There are dozens of similar young people who have been quietly recruited into the Buccaneers and they are too numerous to list here. What becomes quickly apparent when studied is that Tampa Bay as a franchise recruits dynamic personalities into a static pattern established by the Glazer Family to use those dynamics to always push-off the competition within the NFL over a long period of time. It is within that statement that I am so passionate about Tampa Bay Buccaneer Football. I am not a person who cares for stats, or even individual players. I am all about dynamic patterns used to make a static pattern great, or better. (SEE THIS LINK TO UNDERSTAND WHAT I MEAN BY STATIC AND DYNAMIC PATTERNS.) In fact, even with all the great players and coaches, even when it came down to the treasured veteran linebacker Derrick Brooks, who was the ideal icon of the franchise, when he become too old to maintain the static pattern of expectation the Glazers let him go, just as they did Sapp, Lynch, Gruden and many others. It wasn’t out of disloyalty, although the fans did feel that way. It was that the Glazers put the high level static pattern of their team ahead of their loyalty to personalities. When the dynamic personalities are no longer effective, the Glazers look for new personalities to keep the Buccaneers continuously competitive.

It is true that this does hurt them at the ticket booth, as fans do fall in love with individual players, and many sports fans keep careful track of the various statistics of those players. But the Glazers have always maintained this discipline to their organization, which is unique to them. They fired my favorite coach in Sam Wyche to hire Tony Dungy. They fired Tony, even though they loved him in Tampa because Tony had stalled out and become less effective so they could hire John Gruden. And when Gruden had lost his touch with the players and become mediocre, Tampa fired Gruden, considered by many to be one of the best minds in football, to hire Raheem Morris, the young assistant who quietly absorbed all the greatness of the men who came before him. And Raheem knows that if he becomes complacent and stops bringing a dynamic to his team which protects the static pattern of quality that is expected with the Tampa Bay Franchise, he’ll be let go also. It’s not personal, but for the Glazers, they have a dedication to putting on the field at every level a quality product.

This mentality even extends to the Cheerleaders who are among the best of any NFL team. Not only are their costumes appropriate along that fine line between sex appeal, and family friendly style, but their choreography as a dance unit is top-notch, and has been since the construction of Raymond James Stadium. When attending a game at Ray Jay you will be treated to these cheerleaders who perform with precision in between plays in an overall show that is complete for the entire 3 to 4 hours you are inside that palace.

And it’s not unusual for the Buccaneer Cheerleaders to do many community events and appearances all over town exhibiting their quality performances as a dance team. The philosophy of these Buc Cheerleaders is to bring the sex appeal expected from a cheerleader in the NFL with a style and work ethic similar to a Broadway Dancer.

It’s in the details however that makes just an average organization great. It’s a multitude of little dynamics which tend to preserve the greatness of a static pattern in competition with other static patterns, and in the NFL all teams have great players and football minds that are seeking to destroy each other’s season. And in Tampa Bay if the cheerleaders don’t keep people excited about the product on the field during this epic battle between the players themselves, then the Pirate Ship that sites in Buccaneer Cove, which is a replica of a giant Caribbean Village, will. All the props in the stadium are built by the same company who builds for Walt Disney World and the Pirate Ship is one of the most unique features for a sports stadium in the entire world. There is nothing like it anywhere!

It was this Pirate Ship which earned my eternal loyalty to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Being from Cincinnati, I know the history of their stadium debacle up close, and the ironic thing is, before Paul Brown Stadium was built, the Bengals toured Raymond James Stadium for ideas, but they seemed to miss most everything in their interpretation. Raymond James Stadium is the centerpiece of activity in Tampa. When they aren’t playing football there for the Buccaneers, it might be football with the South Florida Bulls, or a Monster Truck event, or a concert, or an equestrian event, Raymond James Stadium hosts events all through the year, was built completely with community money but gives back to the community in so many ways without compromising the integrity of being the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Raymond James Stadium is the Crown Jewel of the NFL and all sports establishments. It is the best of the best even when others have tried to copy it. The difference is most ownerships attempt to duplicate the luxury boxes and vending sales, without understanding the dynamic relationship connected to the fan experience. This is why most have failed when attempting to duplicate the success of Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

And this is why even when I don’t get to fly to Tampa for a game I duplicate the experience at my home on a Sunday afternoon. Because being a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is about more than a football team, it’s a celebration of the success of merging dynamic quality patterns with static patterns and how that balance can be achieved successfully.

Many who know me are baffled by the fact that I love the Buccaneers so much, because I tend to read a lot and don’t seem like the type of person who would enjoy “tailgating” and cheering for a player to carry a ball across a green field to cross a little line on the ground where the team gets points. (Such a thing is rather silly in the greater scheme of things) But in truth, some of my favorite people are in Florida, and Tampa has many people in it that I call my friends, and those friendships have in common a love of the Buccaneers because their success bleeds over into other aspects of life. And I don’t give out friendship easily. But in regard to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who even over their practice field fly a giant pirate flag that looms over the players to remind them of where they are and what they are expected to do, innovation and encouragement to reach deep inside to bring out greatness is encouraged in every act exerted. You can see that flag in the next clip. When people visiting Tampa Bay fly into the International Airport if they look out the east window of their craft, that flag is the first thing they will see in Tampa Bay, for it inundates the horizon.

But the secrets to a great organization are in many of the unsung positions, and the Buccaneers value their former players, even if they let them go to avoid salary cap problems where those players become too expensive for what they bring to the field of play. They promoted the linebacker Shelton Quarles to a scout which keeps his dynamic talent under the umbrella of the Buccaneer Franchise and allows the Bucs to locate passionate players who fit into the static expectations of the organization, because if anyone knows what kind of player should be in a Buccaneers locker room or on the field, it’s Shelton.

When I was growing up, as I pointed out in another article on the Buccaneers, my nickname was “Animal.” I like Blount had a problem with fighting. I could not take a hit without fighting back and I never knew when to quit. (I still don’t) because I would be bored in life without some kind of fight or another. No coach wanted me on a football team because I never took direction well, and I had no tolerance for the politics of school football. If I had met someone like a Raheem Morris when I was 16 through 22 I might have played football for a guy like that, because Morris, and the Glazers know how to tap into those types of individuals that other organizations overlook, or take for granted who move through life on the outside of establishment. And the Buccaneers know that it is in such dynamic people who a competitive edge over an opponent can be found. So it is with that in mind that I feel an affinity for LeGarrette Blount. I can relate to the kid. It will be interesting to see how he handles success, once money finds its way to him. I hope it doesn’t change the kind of man he has a chance to be. I’m sure that Raheem Morris is having those kinds of talks with the young man.

So as we contemplate education reform, and the role of government in society, I rest my mind from the burdens of the day and dedicate my valuable time to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers whenever they play because on every occasion that I doubt the validity of an idea I can look to that organization as a symbol of how things should or could be. I see upon that organization at every single level a passion for finding a dynamic which will make them better without compromising their static quality. I see an indulgence in more than just a game, but a philosophy that not only benefits the team and ownership of the Buccaneers, but the entire community themselves. It is the entire experience of the quality achieved at all these various levels which put the smile on a face of a young boy and ignite in him a hope that anything is possible. Or it brings delight to the over-weight middle-aged man stuck in a rut in his life to see gladiators give it their all on the field of battle, or the bored mother who holds up her hands to have beads thrown upon her head from the pirate ship in Buccaneer Cove. It is an entire city that is the better for the fact that the Buccaneers guard selfishly their unique brand of football in an NFL League that is all-too-focused on quarterbacks and statistics, that they often miss the magic of the dynamic in human spirit. Too often those types upon a confounded brow wonder how such characters came to be but for someone like the Glazer family created the conditions for the unique to blossom, and capture in those weekly battles a magic which enhances the lives of thousands.

Yo, ho, YO, HO, It’s a pirates life for me, and on Sunday’s I fly my flags proudly and think of Raymond James Stadium, the Glazer Family, the Pirate Ship, Raheem Morris and the various Buc players both past and present who live and fight the way I think all people should play at life, with passion, enthusiasm, and eternal hope, pounding one yard at a time for the end zones of life if only to hear the celebration of cannon fire and the cheering of a crowd under the gentle gaze of a October Sun.

Win, or lose, I am a fan of Buccaneer Football!  Because it’s easy to be a fan when your team wins, or there is money in your pocket.  But it is very hard to have courage and strength when things don’t go your way.  That is the difference between success and failure and is the reason we play sports in society.  It’s a measure of our ability to adapt and learn what we are made of, whether or not we will cry out for assistance, blame someone else, or look at ourselves in the mirror and grow better, and more hungry.  It is in that process that everything becomes better.  And because of everything I’ve said here about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a loss at this stage of their development is something that will burn in those young kids for years and make them veterans able to sustain victory long into the future.  Unfortunately, our society does not apply this lesson to their everyday lives, because if they did, they would find that those lives would improve dramatically.

Rich Hoffman!/overmanwarrior