1. Bucs

Can Bucs become Tampa Bay's favorite team again?

Bucs fullback, Mike Alstott talks to the crowd as he walked along Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa during the Buccaneer victory parade Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2003.Times Photo by: Fraser Hale
Bucs fullback, Mike Alstott talks to the crowd as he walked along Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa during the Buccaneer victory parade Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2003.Times Photo by: Fraser Hale
Published Aug. 23, 2017

Their playoff run came up a tiebreaker short.

They've added the game's best deep threat (DeSean Jackson) and the hero Alabama's last national championship (O.J. Howard). And have you seen Hard Knocks?

It's a good time to be a a Buc and a Bucs fan. But can they recapture their place as Tampa Bay's favorite sports team? The Times' Bucs coverage team weighs in:

Ernest Hooper, @hoop4you

Yes, but winning Tampa Bay's heart requires more than winning on the field. Measuring this intangible involves connecting with the community as often as Jameis Winston connects with Mike Evans, and while current players engage in charitable efforts, they've yet to replicate the feel-good spirit fostered by guys like Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn, John Lynch, Mike Alstott and Coach Tony Dungy. In some ways, those names still resonate more than the 2017 Buccaneer stars.

This has and always will be a football town, and the Bucs have always dominated the discussion on the sportstalk airwaves. However, the team's failure to make the playoffs since the 2007 season has diminished its status as Tampa Bay's top sports team.

Add in the fact Jeff Vinik has flashed into town like a supernova, and the Lightning's likely Stanley Cup run -- and it's easy to argue the area's top sports team plays on ice, not grass.

The Bucs need a playoff appearance, and it's expected, but they also need some unique and authentic community efforts to help them reverse course. It's not a lack of effort. The team can point to a variety of outreach events, but it has yet to duplicate the special brand of care fostered by Brooks, Dunn and company. To siege the day on the community side, the Bucs need to be bigger and bolder. An 80-yard touchdown pass excites more than a 1-yard plunge.

Martin Fennelly, @martyjfennelly

Of course. But it will take sustained winning. The Bucs in recent years have done more community work than even the Dungy-Gruden Bucs, which is great. But those old Bucs teams connected because they added excellence on the field. This is a front-running town. You're in or you're out. That the Bucs lapsed into nothingness (no playoffs since 2007, no playoff wins since Super Bowl night) is ridiculous. They should own this town. And they need to own it again. Make the playoffs and we'll see.

Rick Stroud, @NFLStroud

The Lightning is popular, but hockey still is a niche sport in the south. The Rays can't hold anyone's attention or gain attendance. I would say the Bucs have been and will continue to be the most popular team in Tampa Bay. With Hard Knocks and a young quarterback on the rise, attendance should increase this season.

Greg Auman, @gregauman

The Lightning and Rays have certainly had winning seasons more recently, but I don't know that either has truly surpassed the Bucs as the area's favorite sports team. Get back to the playoffs and attendance at Ray-Jay will be back up as it was in their last sustained success.

Thomas Bassinger, @tometrics

Stay updated on the Buccaneers

Stay updated on the Buccaneers

Subscribe to our free Bucs RedZone newsletter

We’ll deliver a roundup of news and commentary on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers weekly during the season.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

Yes, and it won't take all that much. Because football. Without question, the Bucs have ramped up efforts to connect with the community, whether it's charitable events or staying long after practice to engage with fans. But let's be honest: Aside from the diehards who will bake in the sun at RayJay no matter what, people want to be a part of a winner. Win a playoff game at home, tickets will be harder to come by than glasses for a solar eclipse.

Got a question you want the Times Bucs coverage team to answer? Email


This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge