July 6th, 2016
Joe misses the old NFC "Norris" division.

Joe misses the old NFC “Norris” division.

Joe misses the Bucs being in the old NFC Central.

Maybe it was because the Bucs played in a division with historic NFL franchises, the Bears, the Packers, the Lions and a team with a lesser history but many historic moments, the Vikings.

It also helped that when the Bucs were good and fans of the aforementioned teams came down to Tampa Bay to enjoy sun and fun and follow their teams, it made for a lively if not raucous atmosphere at the now aptly-named Den of Depression.

In fact, Joe remembers in those days, the late great Chris Thomas would give away prizes for callers to his radio show who most closely guessed the correct number of fans arrested and ejected at such games.

Brett Favre, Randy Moss and Barry Sanders going up against the Bucs dominant defense? That was entertainment.

Since the reworking of NFL divisions and the Bucs being placed in the NFC NASCAR division, a lot of charm was lost. Joe doesn’t believe it is a coincidence at all that not long after the Bucs changed divisions, that’s when season ticket sales began to plunge.

BSPN offers up the best rivalries for each NFL team, and Jenna Laine also seems to pine for the old “NFC Norris.”

Watching Warren Sapp and Brett Favre go at it in the old NFC Central days was pure theater … just riveting to watch. After the Bucs moved to the NFC South, the Saints were a pain in the neck. The Eagles were, too, in the playoffs. Now? It’s tough to pinpoint because of how much Tampa has struggled, but sweeping the Falcons was huge for the Bucs last season, and that series is almost dead even, with the Bucs up 23-22.

Laine is correct. There really isn’t a division foe Bucs fans universally loathe. Oh, the Saints are a good rival, earthed, in part, because of Bucs road games at one of the greatest party and eating towns in the western world. And, yes, Drew Brees has something to do with that.

After the Bucs switched divisions, the NFL had teams play their former division rivals once a year for a few years there. Joe wishes that would resume.

Joe can’t think of an NFL South team that gets Bucs fans clenching their teeth like the old NFC Norris teams.

Change is not always good.

25 Responses to “Rivalries”

  1. tmaxcon Says:

    nfc south is just not the same as the old central division. my late brother was one of many hauled off in hand cuffs after a couple packer games. ahhh the good ole days… mom was so proud

  2. DemBoyzFromDaBay727 Says:

    The Favre vs Sapp rivalry might have been my fav. Those two were fierce competitors and one of the best at thir positions at the time. This guys were always jawing back n forth. NFL fims touched on it when they did the story for Favre. Good stuff. My fav moment might of been when Sapp sacked Favre so hard he broke his facemask. Ahhh the good ol days.

  3. theodore Says:

    If you count the cellar as a division, we still got the Lions.

  4. ThunderSack Says:

    Carolina is probably the most heated rivalry? Jameis and Cam going at it twice a year is a nice match up.

    It makes more geographical sense for the Bucs to be in the South, but there really is no drama. It could be due to the Bucs not being competitive the last few years!

  5. Buccfan37 Says:

    Some of those old Bucs-Packers games were referred to as toilet bowls when they both stunk equally. I think the Lions are the only NFL team the Bucs are near .500 against, maybe just over. I’ll take the NFC South region every day. Most of the games against that yankee division I choose to forget.

  6. Buccaneers Says:

    Thunder I have to disagree…..I don’t think we have beaten the Panthers in fours years. We have never swept them. We can’t call it a rivalry when the see us as a pushover.

    I did like the central division but there was no way they were going to remove another team from it when they realigned the divisions. Just like the Cardinals in the East we were the redheaded stepchild of that division.

  7. Brian Says:

    I think a Newton/Winston rivalry will make for good watching for years to come.

  8. Ben the Ga Buc Says:

    I hate the Falcons the most just because I live here and have to deal with their fans. I really enjoyed beating them with our rookie QB last year, two times.

  9. Rrsrq Says:

    Falcons vs. Saints is really the only rival in the NFC south, those team travel to each other cities by the bus load and Falcons fan will take an “L” to anyone but the Saints, that being said, it would be nice to see some competititive games with the Panthers, or even an instate rivalry brew up with Jax, since we both got young QB’s.

  10. Bring bucs back Says:

    Change isn’t always good, indeed. However, if the realignment didn’t happen, a couple more wins against the newly-formed and weaker South opponents, a first round bye and an eventual SB may not have happened. In 2002, I believe the only divisional loss was the home opener against the Saints. How many times did our Bucs only lose once in the old NFC Central? Schedules DO make a difference! …do miss the old rivalries, though.

    When we become relevant again, there will be hatred hence, rivalries. When the realignment happened and the Bucs were regulars in the playoffs and the top-dogs in the division, we where hated by the others like we hate the Panthers now.

  11. Bucsfanman Says:

    I agree with some of the posters here; you have to be relevant to have rivalries. We may have beaten Atlanta twice last year, but I doubt we scared them. When we start putting “beat-downs” on people is when we’ll get a little flavor of those “battle of the bays” games.
    Oh, and how about protecting the house for a change! WIN AT HOME, please!

  12. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    If you think about it, all of the teams in our division are relatively young compared to those other teams in Central.


    I HATE the Falcons, mainly because of their fans. Remember when Michael Vick was considered the hottest QB in the division…even the refs gave him unfair calls.

    The Saints got good because of one man…Drew Brees. Without him, they would not have ever improved.

    The Bucs were good for a while, legitimately so.

    The Panthers are a great team now. They’ve finally set a standard and while the Saints are stuck in neutral and the Falcons can’t seem to put together a winning season, its the Bucs who have the most potential to rise to the level of the Panthers.

    It might take another year, but we are well on the way. That’s what good drafting does.

  13. Clodhopper Says:

    The old NFC Central. The reason this Iowa guy became a Buc fan. Every one around here is either a Packer, Bear, Viking or Chiefs fan. Just for spite of those NFC north fans I couldn’t help but root against them. That slowly turned into rooting for the Bucs and I’ve never wavered since. Good times, those were.

  14. Pancake block Says:

    Tampa bay at Green Bay…….battle of the bay of pigs is what they called that mess….before Brett and warren

  15. Phil Says:

    Don’t tell Roger change isn’t good. He’s made the NFL a shell of it’s former self. Now all we do is watch the refs decide who will win of lose.

  16. Warren Says:

    Hate the Eagles and their crappy fan base. Last season’s shellacking was sweeeet

  17. GhostofTedford Says:

    I HATE THE SAINTS. Most obnoxious fans I have ever been exposed to. I lost all respect for the Saints organization after the bounty gate scandal. I loathe the Saints.

  18. 813bucboi Says:

    I hate the saints…that’s the one team in our division that I cant stand and root against no matter who they are playing….GO BUCS!!!!

  19. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    Until very recently the division had a history of worst to first. Gives everybody hope but there are no real great teams and so no rivalries.

    Carolina has done their part. We now have one really good team in division! It’s up to us to do our part and make the Panthers Bucs must see TV.

    And as Brian pointed out, we now have a great substory….Cam versus #3..

    Personal stories are easy to sell and so this could become a rivalry that gets national attention….#3 versus Cam!!!

  20. Destro44 Says:

    For more the answer is the Panthers. Mostly because they are physical team always have been. The Saints and Falcons have always been soft even when they have been good still soft. The Bucs and Panthers have been similar styles of teams built on defense and running the football. I think those physical games and the way Steve Smith owned us makes me hate the Panthers.

  21. LargoBuc Says:

    Remember Dante Wesley’s hit on Clifton Smith? Def some bad blood between us and Carolina. Those were some brutal games. Mostly back in the Gruden years.

  22. T in Orlando Says:

    I hate the Panthers ever since that cheap shot on a punt return (of course the names of the players involved escapes me now) and not that crazy about the Falcons nor the Saints. This division has only been around for 15 years, and it and the AFC south have the youngest teams (based on age of the franchise) in the NFL.

    Couple points of correction, the Bucs did sweep the Panthers in 2002, we only lost to 3 teams that year, Steelers, Eagles and Saints twice. Also, we were 4-2 in Division that year too.

  23. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    I hate the Falcons with a passion. Their chop blocks (that’s one rule change this year I like) and fan attitudes drive me batty. Plus…I can’t stand stupid. And Atlanta fans are certainly that. They even fail at smack talk.

    Saints? I respect one of their players…Drew Brees. He’s a good guy. The fans, however, cry like they are owed something because of Katrina. As horrible as that was, what did NO expect when they build a city in a hole next to the ocean?

    Panthers? I respect that team. I didn’t for a while, but they’ve built through the draft, worked their butts off and they treat their fans like gold. I Love how they give touchdown footballs to kids in the stands, and I wish that would become policy for the entire NFL (that will help get fans to games).

    The rivalry is always the toughest team in a division. That’s the Panthers. I want to see us beat the stuffing out of them every game, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect them.

  24. Buccfan37 Says:

    The Bucs are looked at as losers by most teams fan bases, like a joke team that other fans expect a win against, close to a gimme win. That’s what Buc fans want turned around, respect knowing when you face the Bucs you are in a knockdown dragout battle every time from a consistant competitor. It seems a struggle to reach that level. This years schedule is damn tough, just the league west division teams are formidable opponents, the 49ers may be the easiest game from that group. If the Bucs finish above .500 they have played their a$$es off. The Bucs are better, most agree making progress overall. The suspense is over the top.

  25. ndog Says:

    I hate The Carolina Panthers and Cam “fake Newton! Actually I have hated them since Jake Delome and they were talking trash about how their defense was better than Sapp and crew.