Despite the rain, more than 30,000 fans packed Raymond James Stadium this past Saturday for the annual Tampa Bay Buccaneers Fan Fest and night practice. According to Bucs officials, this set an all-time record as the largest free public event in franchise history.
Not a bad start after a dismal 4-12 season last year with most games not even available on TV for local fans due to the NFL’s recently-changed blackout rules. And, definitely a warm welcome for brand-new head coach, Greg Schiano of previous Rutgers coaching fame.
The event kicked off at 4 p.m. with the entire Bucs roster as well as a handful of Buccaneer alumni and cheerleaders signing autographs for those in attendance. Fans could also get their picture taken next to the famed Lombardi Trophy as well before the practice started around 6 p.m.
Speaking of fans, they provided a much needed power boost for many Buc players, many of whom had gone through the ringer of four straight practice days beforehand. Those in attendance also got a glimpse of some game action as two teams of mostly reserve players scrimmaged with full-on tackling to end the night. The scrimmage proved to be a great way to iron out some kinks and get more game day experience in before the team’s first pre-season game in Miami this Friday, August 10.
Even with a 40-minute rain delay, fans waited it out and cheered on the team during drills and the scrimmage like it was a real game. Shows how far the free parking, $1 hot dogs, and $1 soft drinks available throughout the night can go to lift the spirits, huh?
All kidding aside, this is a great sign for the Bucs as they make their into what we hope is a successful and growth-filled 2012 season under their new leadership.