Bucs And Jets To Open 2003 Preseason In Japan

January 24 – The National Football League announced Friday that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Jets will open up the 2003 preseason when they play each other in the American Bowl in Tokyo, Japan. It will mark the first time the Bucs have ever played a game outside of the United States.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Jets have been selected by the National Football League to open up the 2003 preseason in the American Bowl in Tokyo, Japan.

It will mark the first time the Bucs, who have never played a game outside the United States, have played in the American Bowl.

Although Tampa Bay's 2003 preseason schedule has not yet been determined, Friday's announcement means the Bucs will likely play five preseason games.

"(The league) did talk to us about it and I think our owners' view and our view was, this is in the best interest of the franchise, let's do it," said Bucs general manager Rich McKay said Friday. "From a world-wide exposure standpoint, it's certainly a positive for the franchise. We just need to figure out the logistics and try to use it to our advantage, having the extra preseason week."

The last time Tampa Bay played five preseason games was back in 1998 when the club played in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. The Bucs finished the regular season with an 8-8 record that year. Despite the extra preseason game and the extra travel, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden was pleased to learn he would be taking his team overseas next summer.

"I've never been overseas, so that will be a new experience for me," Gruden said. "I thank the NFL for selecting us. That's very exciting, I look forward to it.

"I'm not, again, the most experienced traveler. It will be new to me and I'm worried about how it's going to affect me. But I've got more things to concern myself with right now."

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