"The Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers will kick off the Monday Night Football season against one of two foes, in my opinion. I think the Bucs will either host the Dallas Cowboys or the Atlanta Falcons in the season opener. The Cowboys would be a great matchup for the first week because they probably won't be a playoff contender in 2003 and Monday Night Football wouldn't want to showcase them later in the season when a losing record would be more likely. Bill Parcells coming back to the NFL as the Cowboys coach was the No. 1 story during the playoffs and all eyes will be on the Cowboys from a media perspective. Why not feature Parcells, who almost became the Bucs' coach last January, in the spotlight of Monday Night Football?"
"The other intriguing matchup would be Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons vs. the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay swept Atlanta last year and stymied Vick each time. The NFL and Monday Night Football will want to showcase its alleged No. 1 player -- from a fan's perspective -- against the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. These would be the two most desirable opponents for the Bucs to open the season with, in my opinion."
LEO HAGGERTY - MANAGING EDITOR:
"First home game – interesting thought. Here are the options. Conference opponents Carolina and Atlanta and New Orleans are the first options. I don't think the National Football League would schedule a Monday night game with the Falcons who are the only logical contenders. Then there's the NFC East foes New York and Dallas. The Giants with the big TV market as well as the Barber brothers matchup or the return of Bill Parcells who stiffed the Bucs both are enticing but I don't believe either one will occur. Then the AFC South with Houston and Indianapolis come to mind."
"The Houston Texans aren't a big draw on MNF and I hope the NFL wouldn't make Tony Dungy and his Indianapolis Colts be on hand when Tampa Bay hoists the Super Bowl banner. That leaves us with my choice for the opener and that's the NFC North champion Green Bay Packers. The fact that both finished 12-4 and that quarterback Brett Favre is 0-for-life against the Pewter Pirates at Raymond James Stadium is an intriguing kickoff to the 2003 Monday Night Football season. My vote is for the Cheeseheads."
JIM FLYNN - PEWTER REPORT ASSISTANT EDITOR:
"The NFL is probably flirting with the idea of sending three different teams to Tampa to play the Buccaneers in the Monday Night Football regular season opener, which will likely be played in Tampa since the Bucs won the Super Bowl last season."
"I think Tampa Bay will host Dallas in the regular season/Monday Night Football opener. The Bucs will debut as Super Bowl champions from the previous season while Bill Parcells will make his debut as Dallas' head coach. The media will, of course, hype the Bucs-Parcells coaching search debacle from the 2002 offseason. Although Dallas wasn't a playoff contender last season, Parcells' debut along with Dallas' huge following would help draw a big TV audience."
"While a Bucs-Cowboys showdown would be an intriguing one, my second preference would be a Bucs-Falcons game in Raymond James Stadium. Previous regular season openers on Monday Night Football have featured games between division rivals. Like Dallas, Atlanta would draw a big TV audience because of superstar quarterback Michael Vick. Although they've only been together in the NFC South Division for one season, Atlanta and Tampa Bay have established a bit of a rivalry."
"Green Bay vs. Tampa Bay would be the other big draw. The Bucs-Packers matchup has been one of the best NFL rivalries in recent years. Green Bay has never won in Raymond James Stadium (0-5), but the games have been exciting. Warren Sapp's controversial hit on Chad Clifton along with the Sapp-Mike Sherman incident at the conclusion of last year's Bucs-Packers game would certainly be hyped through the media. This might prompt the NFL to send Green Bay to Tampa for a Monday Night Football showdown."