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Exhibition Game

August 21, 2005

My friend Ryan Priest and I went to last night's Bucs/Jaguars pre-season game at Raymond James Stadium here in Tampa. It was a fun time. We met up before the game at Bennigan's (yes, that Bennigan's) for dinner, then consolidated cars and headed to the game. I've known Ryan going back to when I was at the University of Evansville, and he and I are both veterans of the TV news biz (though now he works in the insurance business and I work in radio).

The game itself was a fun time. It was a night game, and up at the 300 level there was actually a breeze. With the sun down, it was nice. Tampa weather normally doesn't feel that comfortable in August.

Booger's Bucs Can Wait
Is this the best name they could choose?!?

There were all sorts of quips to be made. They have these player charities every year, and usually they involved some sort of alliteration (i.e. Brooks' Bunch for Derrick Brooks, Alstott's Army for Mike Alstott, etc.) Anyway, they had one called "Booger's Bucs Can Wait" that I found hysterically funny. It's Anthony "Booger" McFarland's charity, which I guess is supposed to promote abstinence. You'd think a picture of a shirtless McFarland would be enough to do that.

Anyway, here's the info on the program, from

"At every game played in Raymond James Stadium, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host an NFL-high number of charitable groups and school children as part of the game-day ticket program. The Buccaneers treat ticket program participants as special guests during the games, seating them in front row end zone seats, providing them Buccaneers T-shirts that boast the name of their player's or coach’s group, and featuring them on Buc Vision throughout the game."

The funniest part is in the next paragraph, where they list K Martin Gramatica (cut last year) and TE Ken Dilger (retired) as two Bucs who are part of the program.

Buc Vision, for the uninitiated, is the name for the wide screen monitor at the stadium. Think of a screen that's super-wide, like beyond movie screen width. It makes for some ridiculous looking shots sometimes (like when they put a shot taken for regular TV up there and you can't tell what the hell is going on), but overall it is very nice. It was an exhibition game, and the first game at the stadium for the season, so I'll cut them some slack on that.

They did have a hilarious montage with a phone number to call in case of "public intoxication" -- or if "people are standing". That's presumably people standing in a no-standing zone, but the way it was explained made it sound like standing was prohibited at all times. Plus, they presumed that you were like me and had a cell phone with you at the game. Otherwise, Cletus the Drunk sitting next to you would have to go unreported, I suppose.

From that they segued into a no smoking is allowed at Raymond James Stadium announcement. What's humorous about that is that they showed people in the crowd while they made the no smoking announcement. I quipped to Ryan that they needed to show someone smoking in the crowd... then when they made the announcement again, a sharp cameraman found a guy who was chewing on a cigar! The stadium erupted in laughter. The guy showed to the camera that the cigar was not lit, though there's something in the rules about tobacco products not being allowed in there.

I do tend to run my mouth at football games, but only because I actually know what the hell is going on most of the time. Example: they was a play where Bucs WR Paris Warren (more on him in a minute) went out for a pass and a flag was thrown. A guy two rows back said, "I think he stepped out of bounds," and I said (loud enough to be heard, "No, if he had stepped out of bound, the ref would've thrown his hat." At exhibition games you can talk loud enough to be heard a few rows back (and I didn't even have any $7 beer at the game to help me "project my voice").

As for the game itself, it was an exhibition, so we got to see a wide variety of players for both teams. Mike Alstott received the biggest crowd pop in the pre-game intros. Fred Taylor didn't play, and if the Jags don't have him healthy this year, they're going to have problems, if last night's game is any indication. The Jags have a strong passing game, but the running game was weak with the first-teamers in there. LaBrandon Toefield is not the answer, and Greg Jones (a capable RB) has been converted to fullback for the season.

With the Bucs, I enjoyed seeing Cadillac Williams play in person, though he learned quickly on an outside rush that he needs to take the first hole available (he tried to bounce it outside, but he found out the hard way that, unlike in college, linebackers in the NFL all have speed). But Cadillac should do just fine for the Bucs. WR Ike Hilliard looked terrible, and showed why the Giants let him go.

Who impressed me from the latter stages of the game were the play of two seventh round picks: S Hamza Abdullah (from Washington State) and WR Paris Warren (who played for Utah). Abdullah was all over the place on defense and special teams, and he made an interception on Nate Hybl (who I imagine is going to be cut either this week or next by the Jaguars -- tough month for Oklahoma QB fans).

Paris Warren
Paris Warren scored the Bucs' lone TD last night.

Warren, meanwhile, made a spectacular TD reception on the Bucs' only touchdown score of the game (they lost 20-17, incidentally). Warren played at Oregon (when Joey Harrington was there) for a season, transferred to Utah (sitting out a year), then spent two years under the tutelage of Urban Meyer. He lead Utah in receiving in each of his two seasons there (setting single-season school records in 2003 and 2004), and he was co-MVP of the 2004 Fiesta Bowl. Now he is fighting for an NFL job, and judging from last night's performance, I hope he gets one with the Bucs. The way he skated the near sideline was amazing; I've never seen anyone ride the sideline that long without stepping out of bounds. TE Alex Smith gave a great block on the play, but Warren made two or three nice cuts to get in position to break one. And on the earlier play mentioned where the flag was thrown (for illegal defensive contact), had the defense not interfered, Warren was in position to break away for a catch and a probable go-ahead score. If Ike Hilliard makes the Bucs and Paris Warren doesn't, something is definitely wrong with the system.

One sign that I'm getting old, besides the fact that I'm turning 28 on August 24, is that most of the players on the Bucs are younger than I am, many of them considerably younger. So it goes.

Here's another: when I was younger, in grade school, I remember that my parents bought a small black and white TV for the kitchen. This was probably about 20 years ago. As I recall, someone had told my Mom that black and white TVs help kids expand their minds and imagine the colors, or some nonsense like that. Whatever the case, the end result was that my Mom ended up stuck watching the black and white TV to see the news (or Oprah or whatever else was on) when she was in the kitchen in the late afternoon. That TV has long since tapped out, but I do remember a time when we had a black and white TV. I know that there are some people who are reading this who have never seen a black and white TV. They still have them in places like TV station control rooms, but by and large they're an antiquated breed.

I found a pretty cool website that's based on street photography in New York City. Here's the link that explains it. It's by a guy named Markus Hartel, who has much of his work available online. The black and white photos I prefer; b&w photos, for some reason, tend to resonate in a way that color simply doesn't. The same isn't true for television (going back to that motif). Granted, it works in movies at times for scene separation (i.e. Memento), or as an homage (as in Kill Bill, Volume 1), and I don't know if Ingrid Bergman's eyes would've sparkled the same way had Casablanca been filmed in color. But overall, photography is unique in how it captures a single moment in time, and because of the detail a single snap can capture, the black and white shot can give you contrasts and a certain special something with photography that doesn't translate the same to other mediums...

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