TAMPA — Sure, they shopped for stylish tees and hats. Yes, they watched cooking demonstrations and admired fancy dinner tables set with Tampa Bay Buccaneers china and wine glasses.
But RED, the Tampa Bay Bucs' first women's campaign event, also had the 1,500-plus women studying fantasy football and huddled over virtual reality glasses and soaking up GM Jason Licht's chalk talk on Thursday night. Some might have been new to the game. Most were super fans. All were eager to be inside Raymond James Stadium soaking up the RED spirit, eating grilled angus beef sliders and other delights at the free party.
There was hardly a trace of the controversy that engulfed the campaign's launch in August.
Critics, including some female fans who were the campaign's target, found references to "gameday style tips" and lessons on football basics — the first "RED football term" introduced as a vocabulary lesson was "play clock" — stereotypical and insulting.
But the crowd on Thursday night, bathed in red from their lipstick to their stilettos, embraced the outreach.
Irene Few didn't see how engaging women was condescending.
"We got to meet players and talk to the general manager and network with fellow fans," said Few. "I like all aspects of Buccaneers football, the x's and o's to the tailgating — all the social aspects."
The boisterous, red-wearing crowd delighted in 15 percent discounts on Bucs knicknacks and clothes. They donned helmets and jerseys in a photo booth, sampled from Publix Aprons cooking demonstrations and sought autographs from team legends Mike Alstott, Jimmy Giles and Michael Clayton, among others.
Organizer Darcie Glazer Kassewitz beamed.
"This is something I've wanted to do for a long, long time," said Kassewitz, the Glazer Family Foundation co-president who grew up watching football with five brothers. "It's an important initiative for the womans' voice."