Most people would read this headline and think the Bucs were being jerks, or you're thinking I'm trying to stir up controversy. Both of your assumptions are wrong.
The Bucs had OTAs on Tuesday, and after practice, part of Dirk Koetter's discussion did revolve around the Tampa Bay Lightning's playoff run.
"This town’s on fire for the Lightning right now," Koetter said. "[They] have the whole town excited. You can’t go anywhere without seeing those blue shirts, blue hats, blue banners – we’re rooting for them 100 percent. Go Lightning.”
The Lightning and Bucs have been polar opposites in recent years. As the Lightning have won consistently with deep playoff runs in front of sellout crowds, the Bucs have consistently been a bottom-dweller in recent years, which playing in front of sparse home crowds. The Lightning's owner, Jeff Vinik, is willing to invest in whatever might make his team's success and the fan's enjoyment his top priority. The Bucs had to have deep negotiations with the Tampa Sports Commission to pretty much just provide high definition screens inside a sports stadium in the 21st century...wait, what?
"I love the Bucs, but it’s night and day negotiating with them as opposed to dealing with the Lightning,’’ said county commissioner Ken Hagan during negotiations surrounding the upgrades to the Buccaneers stadium. "I can’t talk enough about the difference between dealing with the Bucs and Jeff Vinik. That guy walks on water. He’s the real deal."
If you were wondering if there's at least some slight jealousy within the walls of One Buc Place, your hunch was right.
“I’m jealous as hell," Koetter said. "Are you kidding me? I’m extremely jealous of what they have going and that certainly gives us something to work for.”
There's no secret what the Bucs need to do to gain the same support that the Lightning have. Simply win. If the Bucs do that consistently for the first time in over a decade, they'll have much more support than the Lightning have right now. Football is king, but only if you give your fans something to be excited about.
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