By Tom Krasniqi
The parking lots were filling up and thousands of Bucs fans were streaming into Raymond James Stadium. On a Friday night in late March no less.
“This is awesome. When we pulled up here, I said to myself—‘were they playing a game here tonight?’— this is unbelievable,” said GM Jason Licht of the atmosphere.
The Bucs were showing off their uniforms to season ticket holders in a rousing ceremony— complete with cheerleaders, loud blaring music and a fancy lightning display. It was quite a spectacle with plenty of energy— and the vibe was felt by everyone in the building.
“I’m super pumped,” said new defensive end Michael Johnson, who seemed overwhelmed by the atmosphere. “This is a great turnout. A lot of fans— a lot of excitement. I’m just ready to roll man.”
The new uniforms were modeled by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, running back Doug Martin and new cornerback Alterraun Verner with Bucs radio voice Gene Deckerhoff as the MC.
Some fans are warming up to the new outfits while others are balking at the new color design but McCoy says that won’t matter.
“Hey, just come to the games and watch us win,” McCoy replied when asked about the fans who aren’t too keen on the new uniforms. “They won’t have anything to say when we start winning.”
There’s no doubt about that. Winning cures all. It’s not the uniforms— it’s the guys wearing them. And right now, the Bucs are trying to piece together the right guys in order to turn their fortunes around.
News & notes:
- Bucs head coach Lovie Smith was present at Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel’s pro day workout on Thursday and he was impressed: “Johnny had a good workout. You know, the same way he played though out his college career. He’s a great football player—he almost a flawless workout.” Licht was not at Manziel’s pro day. He spent the day at Disney with his family.
- Licht on free agent WR DeSean Jackson: “I don’t want to dismiss him right away but we’re looking at a bunch of other players too.” I’m told the Bucs are not interested.
- Licht says the team is shifting their attention to the draft. He feels good about his draft position with the 7th overall pick and is confident that a great player will fall to them. But Licht says— “wish we had more picks.” Bucs have just five selections in the May draft.
- Bucs kicker Connor Barth was at the event and says he feels fully recovered from his torn Achilles tendon injury suffered last summer during a charity basketball game: “I’m kicking the ball great….feels like old times.”
- Bucs RB Doug Martin says he’s about “to get cleared this upcoming week” as he rehabs from a torn labrum injury. Martin says he will be fully healthy “two to three weeks from now.” He says he will present for the start of offseason workouts on April 7.
- Verner has high hopes for the coming season: “We got so much talent on this roster and everyone is expecting big things.”
- Bucs OTAs (Organized Team Activities) begin April 7. The first minicamp is scheduled for April 22. The Bucs receive added workout dates because of the new coaching staff.