Through your eyes, it was probably ugly enough. But how about through the eyes of the old guys?
It is easy to imagine them, scattered about the country, watching wherever they could. How must the Bucs' 24-20 loss to New Orleans have looked to them?
Just a guess, but …
Imagine John Lynch, watching the game in those odd minutes when he wasn't watching the phone. Imagine Lynch saying, "It's no big deal. We lost our first game in 2002, too.''
Imagine Dave Pear, the Bucs' first Pro Bowl player, adding this: "Yeah, and we lost our first game in 1976, too. Also, the next 13 after that.''
Imagine Lee Roy Selmon watching at the Bucs' Hall of Fame (his living room). Imagine him saying quietly, "What the Bucs need is a much, much better pass rush.''
Imagine Simeon Rice, watching on satellite TV from his home planet, nodding in agreement. "What the Bucs need is a much, much better pass rush, along with a large picture of me on the team helmets.''
Imagine Mike Alstott, watching the success of another full-effort running back who doesn't get enough carries. Imagine him saying, "Gee. Maybe they should call Earnest Graham the E-Train.''
Imagine Warren Sapp, watching and spitting chewing tobacco into a towel on the floor. Imagine Sapp wondering aloud. "By now, wouldn't you think they would have replaced me as a defensive tackle? And if not, wouldn't they at least have replaced me as a tight end?''
Imagine Randy Hedberg, the quarterback who started the '77 season before closing out his Bucs' career with a quarterback rating of 8.0. (And, as it should say on Hedberg's business card, "No, that isn't a misprint.'') Imagine him asking, "Did any starting quarterback have a tougher opening day than Jeff Garcia?''
Imagine Chris Simms saying, "I can think of one.''
Imagine Trent Dilfer saying, "Me, too.''
Imagine Steve Spurrier, Jerry Golsteyn and Jack Thompson nodding in agreement.
Imagine Keyshawn Johnson looking on from the TV studio. Imagine him wondering out loud if Joey Galloway would like to borrow his flip flops for those "take-it-easy'' afternoons.
Imagine David Boston watching from Canada. Imagine him asking, "What does Antonio Bryant have that I didn't have? Besides, you know, a job.''
Imagine Paul Gruber looking on and admiring the nastiness of the Bucs' right tackle. Imagine him saying, "I thought the new HBO series True Blood was a documentary about Jeremy Trueblood, but instead, it's a series about vicious, bloodthirsty creatures. On second thought, maybe it is about Jeremy.''
Imagine Rich McKay watching from Arthur Blank's box. Imagine him saying, "Who would have envisioned this to be such a surprisingly important game?'' And imagine Blank saying, "Well, certainly not you.''
Imagine Spurrier, the old ball coach, offering a little advice. "I'd throw it to Ike Hilliard,'' Spurrier said. "He was the best receiver I ever sent to the NFL.''
Imagine Reidel Anthony asking, "There were others?''
Imagine Vinny Testaverde, throwing a few in his back yard just in case the phone rings. Imagine him saying, "Right about now, the Bucs could use Brett Favre. Of course, so could the Patriots.''
Imagine Bruce Gradkowski, watching the game from Tim Marcum's house. Imagine Gradkowski saying, "Let's see: 41 passes and 20 runs. Reminds me of the good old days.''
Imagine Hugh Culverhouse, watching the game. Imagine Culverhouse's glee. "Roll Tide! Alabama is ranked No. 11! Nick Saban is the new Vince Lombardi!''
Imagine Ray Perkins suing Culverhouse for damages. Everyone knows he is the next Lombardi.
Imagine Keith McCants noticing that Derrick Brooks is limping. Imagine McCants saying, "If the Bucs need me, I'll be glad to come back.''
Imagine Hardy Nickerson saying, "If you do, Keith, I'll beat you up all over again.''
Imagine Brad Johnson watching Garcia and hearing that he has an ankle problem. Imagine Johnson — once benched in the second game of a season himself — saying, "He'll play. But if he doesn't, I would go with Brian Griese over Luke McCown in the second game of the season. If the Bucs go to 0-4, however, I would give the start to Daunte Culpepper over Trent Green.''
Imagine Richard Wood watching a young linebacker such as Barrett Ruud play. Imagine Batman wondering how many times Ruud is going to have to tackle the Falcons' Michael Turner on Sunday. "Every chance he gets,'' Wood would conclude.
Imagine Sam Wyche offering up a bit of advice for Jon Gruden: "Practice your halftimes.''
Imagine former offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen doing the same: "What you need are some of those zero and 1-yard gains.''
Imagine former offensive coordinator Mike Shula doing the same: "I hate third and short.''
Imagine Tony Dungy's advice. Imagine him saying, "Fold your arms. Talk about better execution.''
Imagine John McKay's advice: "Yeah, especially the offense.''