Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Current Tampa Bay Bucs have memories of Super Bowl-winning squad

TAMPA — Bucs DT Gerald McCoy was 14 when Tampa Bay won Super Bowl XXXVII, and the memories remain for the longtime Bucs fan even if he didn't actually see the game.

Raised in a church-going family, McCoy's mother would not permit him to skip the evening service on Jan. 26, 2003. So McCoy did the next-best thing.

"Me and the pastor's son — I didn't want to get in trouble — so I said, 'Hey, run to your dad's office and turn the TV on,' " McCoy said. "So he'd run to the office and say, 'The score is this and this.' Then I'd say, 'Now, go check again.' He came back and said, 'They won!' That's how I stayed updated on the score."

The Bucs will honor that championship team with a 10-year reunion at halftime of Sunday's home game against the Eagles. Limited tickets remain, the team said Thursday; enough were sold to have the game televised in the Tampa Bay area.

A majority of the championship team's players and some of its coaches have confirmed their attendance, and McCoy — a huge Warren Sapp fan — can't wait.

He's not alone. WR Mike Williams said he wears No. 19 because he patterned himself after Keyshawn Johnson, a receiver on the championship team.

"I told him on the phone the other day that I'm the best 19," Williams joked.

Coach Greg Schiano also has memories of the championship Bucs. While he was on the staff at the University of Miami, several Hurricanes assistants often visited Tampa to spend time with then-Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. And Schiano implemented many Bucs tactics in his schemes at Miami and, later, Rutgers.

"These guys are guys that I, as a younger coach, studied the Tampa defense wherever I've been," Schiano said. "If I was at Miami or when I was at Rutgers, I was obsessed with the Tampa defense. Every tape they had, I put on our system. To see those players … and the coaches that will be around, I think it's going to be good."

But ever the coach, Schiano stressed that for him, the focus Sunday is winning.

"We have a job to do," he said. "The worst thing we could do is have all those guys back on their commemorative weekend and not go out and do our job. We want to make our alumni proud of how we coach and how we play. That's just another piece of the goal this weekend, to go out and get a win."

MILLER OUT? With the Bucs preparing for hot-handed Eagles rookie RB Bryce Brown, Tampa Bay's primary run-stopping defensive lineman was nowhere near the practice field for the second straight day Thursday.

DT Roy Miller sustained a head injury against the Broncos on Sunday and has not been cleared to return to practice. Schiano wouldn't say whether Miller sustained a concussion. He did say Miller was being evaluated by the medical staff according to guidelines established by the NFL for head injuries.

"There's a whole protocol that our trainers and doctors go through," Schiano said. "I don't know exactly where we stand. … I'll do whatever they tell us. If he's available, (he'll play)."

Brown has rushed for 347 yards in his first two starts, coming in the Eagles' past two games.

Bucs WR Vincent Jackson (calf) and RB D.J. Ware (illness) practiced with no limitations.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: In a Time magazine article addressing commissioner Roger Goodell and player safety, Goodell shared an idea floated by Schiano to eliminate kickoffs, which are documented as one of the more dangerous aspects of the game.

Schiano's solution would replace kickoffs with this: After a team scores, it would get the ball at its 30-yard line with a fourth and 15. The team could punt or go for a first down.

The NFL has raised the prospect of eliminating kickoffs before, but this is a new twist.

Schiano's interest in the subject appears linked to the injury sustained by his former Rutgers player Eric LeGrand, who was injured on a kickoff and paralyzed in 2010.

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.

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