THE OPTIMIST: The Town’s Still Adjusting

November 25th, 2010

You’ve all read THE PESSIMIST, who spews his Bucs-related anger like no other. But Joe also wants you to know THE OPTIMIST

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the team goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.

“People aren’t excited.”

I hear the topic on sports radio a lot, especially now that the Bucs are winning. I could understand if the Bucs were 3-7, but they’re not, they are 7-3 and looking like they are going to contend for a playoff spot. This Bucs team IS, for a fact, going to play meaningful games in late November and early December, at least.

Why is no one excited?

Don’t get me wrong, there is excitement among Bucs fans. I’ve been to the stadium three times this year, and it is VERY loud out there for only being half full.

Bucs fans are a great bunch, very loyal. One thing has not changed much in Tampa Bay. There are about 30,000 to 40,000 Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans who will go to see games no matter what.

In 1996 when Tony Dungy had the team, though they were losing, you had 30,000 in the stands. In 1984, you had 30-40k then too. That’s what it is. When the team was selling out Raymond James for all those years, it was because you had an additional 30,000 casual fans. The kind that listen to “hey the Bucs are playing good football” and then decide to go to games. 

Josh Freeman throws a last minute comeback TD pass, and his reputation gets spread around the local airwaves on TV and Radio. Next thing you know, people want to go see this Freeman kid.

But until then, fans are going to have to get over their apathy. And a lot of it comes from what the media has reported over the last couple of years.

Concentrating on stories about how the Glazers don’t spend any money, even though they have it’s just the players they’ve spent money on haven’t panned out, that’s left the public with a negative feeling about them.

It’s been proven over and over that the Glazers keep separate bank accounts with their soccer team, yet the average Joe (not Joe on here mind you) thinks the Bucs are siphoning off their ticket money to England! Meanwhile English soccer fans are accusing the Glazers of doing the very same thing!!!

But the real reason fans haven’t fully come back yet is because this town has had something happen to it — that has never happened before. We’ve had our hearts ripped out, one special player at a time. This town was rebuilt for football by Mike Alstott and Warrick Dunn. By Hardy Nickerson and Derrick Brooks. By Warren Sapp and John Lynch, all of whom have gone by the wayside one at a time, and usually not in a flattering way.

Ronde Barber just isn’t enough, although it seems he will be the only one who will leave on his own terms.

But Tampa Bay has never had to deal with that. The Buffalo Bills, they have fans who know what its like. I’m sure they had a tough time watching Thurman Thomas running the ball…in a Dolphins uniform!! Trust me, no one in Dallas was happy to see No. 22 suit up in a Cardinals uniform. But those towns have been through it before. Buffalo watched The Juice and Joe Ferguson say bye bye. Dallas has seen so many stars leave Texas Stadium, they put a big one on their helmets! The Miami Dolphins said goodbye to Czonka, Morris, Griese and Warfield; so Losing Shula and Marino wasn’t much easier, but they were able to go through with it.

Tampa Bay?  It had been too long since the departure of Doug Williams and, truthfully, he alone didn’t do enough. When Pewter Power was born, it was like a new team was born. And fans were jumping on that wagon like they never have before.

These new Bucs are just as exciting, if not more so. Yeah this area was built with defense in mind, but everyone loves a little scoring machine and they will fall for Josh Freeman and Mike Williams in no time.

Bucs fans were never about 9-7 records or playoff positioning; they were about wearing their 99, 55, 40 or 47 jerseys. Now they have to go out and get some new ones as they learn about these new Bucs heroes, but it will happen. Tampa Bay may not get to see home games, but they didn’t back in 1996 and many years before.

Luckily the team wins those road games like it never has before!

11 Responses to “THE OPTIMIST: The Town’s Still Adjusting”

  1. Mark Says:

    Thanks for the optimism but let me clear up some flawed logic. Ray Jay sold out for all those years because of seat licensing. When the Glazer’s threatened to move the team unless we built them a new stadium, people forked out the money to buy seat licenses in an effort to secure stadium funding. The seat deposits were a 10 yr deal—renew for 10 yrs and you get the deposit back. Without that kind of scenario the stadium will never sell out. It is a sad reality but Tampa can’t support this team without a serious overture by “The Management” to fill the seats…otherwise it doesn’t happen, even if they are 16-0.

  2. Bucnjim Says:

    Tampa is in desperate need of an economic up swing. This area has always lacked the jobs that major corporations and unions bring. Having to survive on the hospitality industry has the entire Tampa Bay area struggling to make it. This plays such a huge roll in single game sales as well as walk up sales for a Bucs game.

  3. New Era Buc Says:

    come on back fair weather fans, the players need you.

  4. BigMacAttack Says:

    The Few, The Proud, The Buc Fans in the Stands. Haha, Yo Bucs!!!

  5. Mr. Lucky Says:

    Come on now people. NFL fans who attend the stadium are usually blue collar workers – not many yuppies go to the stadium. Because of the economics of the Bay area there aren’t too many of those types of jobs/workers.

    The Optimist is right about the Tampa Bucs NEEDING media darlings in order to get the bandwagon people back on board. Sure Shelton Quarles was a big part of the defense but who but hard core fans remember? The defense was Sapp, Brooks, Lynch while the offense was Alstott and Dunn.

    Brad Johnson – boring. Trent Dilfer – yawn. Jeff Garcia – snore. (BTW how did he ever land a dish like Camella?)

    The current Bucs not only need to win but yeah they need PERSONALITIES that fans can identify with. Sorry Mike Williams but getting busted at 2:20 am isn’t going to help with the jersey sales.

    Winslow may be the highest paid TE in the league but the casual Bucs fan couldn’t tell you his number and why would they buy it?

    McCoy has the type of personality that people could warm up to but he’s still too nice for a D-lineman. WE WANT NASTY.

    As for ticket sales – Why WOULD people plunk down money IN ADVANCE at list price for seats? There really isn’t a difference between buying game day or pre-paying; for the CASUAL FAN.

    Glazers you want to jack up season ticket sales? REDUCE their price so that they are 20% less expensive then on game day, kind of like a SunPass. If you’re paying in advance you better be paying less.

  6. admin Says:

    Joe here,

    Mr. Lucky, it’s already cheper to buy a season ticket than at the gate. And there are loads of yuppy, white collar types at the games. 12,000 club seats at the C.I.T.S.

  7. Miguel Grande Says:

    It’s the economy stupid! There’s no shortage of football fans in Florida. When the new regime came in, they fired all the Buc’s legends that were left. That’s like leaving your 57 year old wife for a 22 year old beauty, you lose exactly half of your friends and relatives.

  8. niko (The Optimist) Says:

    Mark, there is never one reason for anything, which is why I list a few. The economy is a big big factor. The seat license is a big factor too, but not that big.
    You cant tell me that for the last three years of the deal, people were willing to fork out 2000 dollars just so they can get their 120 back?

    The problems started with the playoff game against the Giants. Meaning what occured from Spring/offseason 2007 to Jan 2008.

    The economy is a BIG factor. However there are still plenty of people who have the money to buy a ticket to a football game.
    The Rays have attendance problems, but playoff tickets were sold out in no time. It’s all about value, and these New Bucs are exciting enough to get people interested in time.

  9. The White Tiger Says:

    Hmmm….why could it be that fans aren’t excited even though their team is 7 dash 3 closing out November?

    Could it be that we’ve heard a song REALLY similar to this one and we’re waiting to see if something changes?

    Wish I knew!

  10. Mr. Lucky Says:

    Joe – how many of those clubhouse seats are sitting empty this year?

    Also with season tickets people get billed months in advance don’t they?

  11. Capt.Tim Says:

    Just hoping we aren’t really embarrassed by the Falcons game. Could make Tampa Fans look bad for years to come. As bad as they want a team in LA, now is not the time to become famous for your lack of fan support at the games!