Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Super Bowl XXXVII Champions (2003)


Having been the laughingstock of the NFL back in the ‘70’s, with their ridiculously orange uniforms and consecutive losing streaks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hoped that the final riddle to their Super Bowl quest would be solved by bringing Jon Gruden over from Oakland to be their head coach for the 2002 season. Nicknamed Chucky for his sideline antics with the Raiders, Gruden brought character to a Bucs franchise in dire need of his unbridled enthusiasm.

This NFL Films retrospective covers the Bucs’ entire championship season, from an opening home loss in overtime to the Saints, to their 48-21 thrashing of the Raiders in the high-profile game of their lives. Known mostly for their defensive prowess, the smash-mouth Bucs sported two of the biggest on-the-field shit talkers in NFL history in defensive tackle Warren Sapp and wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson. With fellow bruisers Simeon Rice, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, and Mike Alstott rounding out the apex of their roster, the Bucs chugged away at the opposing teams in their tracks until all but themselves were laying flat.

Narrated by Harry Kalas, the video program captures candid communications between players and coaches in the classic Steve Sabol style of portraying professional football as every bit as dramatic as a Hollywood movie. You know the happy ending just by reading the title on the vhs box, but nonetheless the determination of the team, put to marching music, draws you in to where a Ronde Barber interception return against the Eagles embodies redemption. Plus, didn’t the crypt-keeper himself, Al Davis, deserve to have his former coach Gruden stick it to him the very next year after dealing him away for a bucket of cash? As Kalas puts it, “Tampa Bay’s defense punched the Raiders squarely in their unpatched eye.” Yep.

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