Buccaneers.com reported this week that recent Public Policy Polling showed that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were chosen by the largest percentage of Florida residents to be the most favorite sports team over the Dolphins and Jaguars.
The statistical margin was slight, but the choice was significant given the National Football League Buccaneers had trouble selling out Raymond James Stadium to avoid sanction black-outs during all of 2010.
Probably the youthful team under the daring and precise management of Coach Raheem Morris and General Manager Mark Dominik has endeared itself statewide with comeback wins and bold play by quarterback Josh Freeman and team.
Barely missing the playoffs is also a factor, no doubt.
But now the Bucs and the other 31 teams are in danger of missing the preseason and maybe beyond.
Owners and players have made progress over the past few weeks, but they still bicker over rookie and retiree benefits plus a player lawsuit.
The recent Eighth Circuit Court ruling gave owners the legality of the lockout, but they didn’t get the leverage with free agency they wanted.
The NFL and NFLPA (owners and players) issued a joint statement.
“While we respect the court’s decision, today’s ruling does not change our mutual recognition that this matter must be resolved through negotiation. We are committed to our current discussions and reaching a fair agreement that will benefit all parties for years to come, and allow for a full 2011 season.”
Two big dates that are looming are July 19 and July 21.
Judge Arthur Boylan, the court-appointed mediator, is on vacation, but has ordered both sides to return to his negotiations in Minneapolis on July 19. Two days later, the owners meet on July 21.
At risk beyond legal points is a costly shortened training camp and preseason.
Revenue estimates of about $200 million a week during preseason that both owners and players share are at risk.
Check this potential scenario, one that might illustrate just how much money is in jeopardy.
Place many stacks of $100 bills maybe as tall as the goal post bar in vacant training camps and preseason fields and then let the brisk autumn wind do its work on the waiting millions.
Or better yet, place those abundant stacks of $100 bills at the back of the busiest takeoff runway at Tampa International Airport. After a few takeoffs much of that money will be scattered onto busy nearby streets as well as in wetlands with some floating in Tampa Bay.
If the teams and players are to blow money, why not do it with style?
The next few days are crucial to a normal and complete NFL season that fans, players and owners love.
The best scenario for all is to get to a settlement now and then bank those $100 bills in a vault safe from natural or fabricated turbulence.
Some information derived for this report came from National Football League media sources.