Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pro Football Talk

I don't make my full-time living watching sports any more. Now it's mostly a hobby with the benefit of not having to interview the participants afterward, though I did just shoot another story for the Dodge Sports Report, the high school sports show on the statewide Sun Sports Network to which I occasionally contribute.

Thanks to the Internet, I don't have to subject myself to the screaming heads on ESPN to get my sports news.

And thanks to a lawyer in West Virginia with too much time on his hands, I don't even have to subject myself to for football news.

Mike Florio has made a small business from his website and its sister site PFT's sponsors include Sprint, LG and so there's enough money in it to make the effort worthwhile.

Its Rumor Mill page is a frequent stop on my daily Internet surfing.

So imagine my happy surprise one day when Florio announces that one of his primary contributing writers is leaving for a sports columnist's job at AOL and issues a call for applicants to replace him. One of the requirements is that candidates have previously been paid to cover sports.

That would be me. So I e-mailed expressing my interest. So I've never scribbled for a newspaper. I've written text stories, I blog -- that's essentially what Rumor Mill is -- and I have the same kind of snarkiness that infuses Rumor Mill with its edge.

Still I was surprised when I got an e-mail this morning that read in its entirety, "send a sample of something you'd post if asked to fill in, based on current news that's out there."

So I did:


The Buccaneers slide from a strong 9-3 to a desperate 9-6 has brought out the chicken Littles. The sky-is-falling cries bring the expected calls for the axe to fall on coach Jon Gruden. But St. Pete Times columnist John Romano warns that the team's collapse may be a symptom of a longer term problem.

Romano suggests that the Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, has been distracted from running the team since they paid 1.5-billion dollars for Manchester United in 2005. The Bucs fell into the bottom half of the league in payroll the year after the purchase and have remained there since.

Although the Bucs have produced two division titles since 2005, the Bucs have not seriously threatened to win a championship since they won Super Bowl XXXVII following the 2002 season.

Even millions of dollars under the salary cap in recent years, the Bucs have not thrown big money at big name free agents, preferring instead to sign mid-level players such as Jeff Garcia, Antonio Bryant and Greg White.

Romano notes that more season ticket holders have begun to show up at Raymond James Stadium dressed as empty seats and hints that if the Glazers don't see the Bucs as anything more than an ATM, the cash might not flow as freely as it once did.

Maybe Buccaneer fans can take solace knowing that Man U just won the Club World Cup title.

1 comment:

Bubba Stokes said...

The Bucs had it relatively good for too long. Tampa Bay area fans are really pretty forgiving and the team took advangtage of that to be cheap.