Saturday, July 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

How Trump or Clinton could right a Tampa Bay sporting slight

It's Election Day. The only thing that bothers me is I didn't get to see any political ads on TV. For weeks, I changed channels like crazy, but I didn't see a one the whole time. Can anyone tell me what they were like?

Today, someone becomes the next president. He or she will inherit the grave issues facing our nation.

First off, it's time to right a wrong, erase an injustice.

Mr. or Mrs. President, when are the Bucs and Lightning going to be invited to the White House?

Tampa Bay's two champions, the 2002 Super Bowl Bucs and the 2003-04 Stanley Cup Lightning, haven't been honored by the president. No Rose Garden, no nothing. This despite having two sports confirmed sports nuts in office, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. W. dropped the ball. Obama kicked it down the road in between revising his NCAA Tournament brackets.

No Bucs. No Lightning.

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Freeze-Out.

Pretty much every champion this side of the Eastern Hockey League has been honored at the White House. Alabama football coach Nick Saban and UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma have been there so many times they pay property tax.

"It's very odd," said Bucs Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, a leader on that 2002 Bucs team. "For two champions in two major sports to do what we did and not get to the White House is puzzling."

It even came up last week, when Bucs gathered for John Lynch's Ring of Honor enshrinement.

"We talk about it," Brooks said. "We would like to go."

In the case of the Bucs, the post-Sept./11 world interrupted the procession of champions to D.C. But most of the teams eventually made make-up trips. Not the Bucs. In the case of the Lightning, a lockout pre-empted the 2004-05 season. There went the White House. It was never rescheduled.

By the way, Jameis Winston and Florida State's 2013 national football champions never met the president, either. Scheduling conflicts? Jameis fallout? We'll never know.

ESPN noted that Obama welcomed the 1985 Chicago Bears in 2011. The Bears' first White House invitation, 25 years earlier, was canceled because of the space shuttle Challenger disaster. And the perfect 1972 Dolphins weren't honored at the White House until 2013.

It's never too late.

"I hope we don't have to wait that long," Brooks said.

Brooks has been to the White House twice. He met President Bill Clinton. The first time, Brooks went with FSU's 1993 national champs.

"I know what it meant to Coach Bowden, to all of us," Brooks said. "It was an astounding opportunity."

Think of what we've missed. Warren Sapp teaching the president the QBKilla sack dance. Or the president picking up a football and telling Keyshawn Johnson to go out for a pass while Jon Gruden whispers to the president's ear to throw it to McCardell or Jurevicius. And there are times I still dream about W. trying to pronounce Dmitri Afanasenkov at Lightning White House day.

Mr. or Mrs. President, get this done. The first hundred days. Do it on the same day if need be, Bucs in the Rose Garden, Lightning in the East Room.

And don't foul up the invites. The last thing our country needs is the 2016 Bucs showing up by accident. Awkward.

"The president is in the situation room, guys. Would anyone like to meet the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade — in person?"

"We want to go. We want it to happen," Brooks said. "I have faith that it will."

He's Derrick Brooks and he approved this message.

Maybe after the Cubs leave.

 
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