The Buccaneers perennial losing ways are starting to take a toll on many longtime fans. I am talking about die-hard fans, not run-of-the-mill bandwagon fans. I am not talking about the casual fans that follow the Bucs when winning. I am talking about the hard-core believers and fanatics that will follow the team no matter what happens.
As a Buccaneers fan-for-life I have to say that I understand the growing sense of futility. This is OUR team and year after year no matter the players and no matter the coach the results seem the same. The problem is not just winning and losing. The over-arching source of difficulty is the embarrassment. It is one thing to have a poor record, but it is something else to have MRSA, the disjointed and obviously frantic Raheem hire. To have control freak Greg Schiano worrying about the temperature in the conference room while the losses pile up is embarrassing.
I have heard some of the most die-hard Buccaneers fans losing the one thing that makes football fun for all of us…hope. It makes me laugh when I hear fans compare the Bucs to New England when complaining. New England does not have to be the benchmark, but neither do the Cleveland Browns.
I watch as week after week the posts on my Facebook timeline become fewer and fewer, and relatively few are positive. Twitter becomes a horror show on Sunday nights and Mondays. The fans are tired of the embarrassment and they want answers. What is the problem? There is one common thread throughout the teams struggle. Coach Koetter calls it “culture”. The overall vibe and attitude within the organization. The only common thread is the Glazer sons. When Malcom ran the team winning was not just hoped for or dreamed about. It wasn’t a goal. It seemed to be expected and demanded. From the time the sons have taken over something seems to be lacking.
I admittedly am not an expert in these matters. I may be completely wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time and it won’t be the last, but something has changed (insert coach joke here). Maybe the ownership is more concerned with the perception of things getting better rather than things actually improving. Hire a new coach so people feel like there is something new to latch onto, or add some great new video screens to make game day better. I admittedly don’t know what the problem is.
I do know this from experience: I have had the opportunity to work with three NFL organizations. The Bucs, Bengals and Falcons. I can tell you that each one had a completely different level of demanding excellence. At the time the Buccaneers were awful and the overall organizational feel certainly was aligned with that. The Bengals were a party atmosphere. It was fun to work with them, but nothing seemed to be professionally handled. Everything from the way you got paid to who knew what was going on at the time was a complete mess. The Falcons were a professional organization run with excellence expected. Each teams on-the-field record was a reflection of the overall “culture”.
I do not work for the Buccaneers. I am not an expert in this area by any means. I love the team though. Vehemently. When I hear the head coach bemoan culture I cringe at my personal experiences in this environment. It also gives me hope that maybe a light is shining on the real problem. It does not only apply to NFL organizations. I am certain it applies to all work environments. The one constant through this time is the Glazer sons.
These are NOT bad owners. They are NOT bad people. I never bought into the talk about the owners not being willing to spend money. I think the owners WANT to win. I am just not certain if they know how to set the tone for winning like their father did. They are the only constant. The carousel of coaches and player missteps has brought us to this current culture. What are the Glazers going to do now? Fire another coach? Start over again? Give the fans a quick reason to hope for a week or two? Will they stay the course and demand excellence from the current regime?
Bucs fans are tired. Even long-time Bucs fans have a sense of fatigue that is growing. Even the die-hard are sounding more and more frustrated. This does not make them lesser fans at all. Unlike the Browns, Bucs fans know what it is like to win. Bucs fans know what that team feels like, and this just feels different. Nothing scientific. Nothing concrete to show as proof, other than the record. The die-hard fans aren’t going anywhere, but the feeling is changing. THAT is reflective of the culture thatnour coach was talking about. When the culture changes WE will feel it.
I will be rooting for my team in week 17 even if the team is 1-14. I am not going anywhere. I love my team and always will. I say “my” team. I say “we” because I am invested in this team. Maybe not as an owner , but I am invested none-the-less.
These are the team owners. They are not going anywhere. If they are the problem then prepare for a very, very long haul. At least that is how I see it from the cheap seats.