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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Rick Scott talks football, high-speed rail with Bucs coach Raheem Morris




(Photo by Daniel Wallace)

Gov. Rick Scott was presented with a personalized Tampa Bay Buccaneers No. 1 jersey by coach Raheem Morris Friday after completing a tour of the team's facility.

Scott remarked he wasn't much of a football player growing up because he was 5-foot-5 and 105 pounds in high school. Scott revealed he was a Kansas City Chiefs fan but now roots for all the NFL teams in Florida.

One interesting exchange between Morris and Scott came during the jersey presentation. "You want to talk about the debt ceiling, you want to talk about government spending, you want to talk about teacher tenure?" Scott said to Morris.

"Absolutely not," Morris said. "I would've liked that light rail, but don't worry about that."



Scott rejected plans for a high-speed link between Tampa and Orlando, in the process turning down more than $2 billion in federal money.

"The high-speed rail? I'll do that deal for you," Scott said. "Here's the deal. It's a great deal. I'm going to give you $2.4-billion, you have to put up a billion. You have to lose, oh, $100-million or so a year. And if you ever get tired, you have to give me my $2.4-billion back."

"It sounds like free agency," Morris said.

"Okay, so you'd do that any time," Scott said.

 Scott deflected a question about his approval rating that rose to 35 percent, a 6 point increase since May that still remains among the worst in the country.

"Well, I want to win the Super Bowl," Scott said. "Look, my job is putting people back to work. I have three jobs. I want every child in this state to get the best education they can. I want to make sure everybody has an opportunity to get a job. And I've got to make sure I keep the cost of living as low as possible so people want to continue to flock to our state. And that's my job.

"I don't know. I'm focused on jobs, jobs, jobs. I ran on getting our state back to work and that's what I think about every day. That's our job. I've got to watch how we spend everybody's money because everybody knows government is bigger than it should be. I've got to watch how we spend money, but the biggest issue is education, jobs and to keep the cost of living as low as possible."

Scott ended the visit by encouraging Tampa Bay fans to buy tickets to Bucs games. The Bucs failed to sell out a single game at Raymond James Stadium last year, triggering a local television blackout.

"Buy tickets, it helps the economy," Scott said. "So we've got to sell more tickets...and we want to sell out all these games where everybody can see all these games.

"You have big season ticket sales, you're selling individual tickets today? And families can come, under 16, can come as low as $17.50? And tickets are as low as $35? But we need to get everybody to these games to make sure our team does better. When you sell out the game, you do better, don't you?"

Rick Stroud, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Friday, August 5, 2011 2:52pm]


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