By Eric Schmidt

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a club which once boasted 100,000 fans on their season ticket waiting list in the early portion of this century, has struggled in order to put fans in the seats of Raymond James Stadium in recent years. The Buccaneers have struggled with having to overcome a severe downturn in the local economy while trying to field competitive teams in recent seasons. As Tampa Bay starts anew in 2012, they are trying to break the recent string of blackouts and re-energize the local fan base.The Buccaneers are also allowing fans to buy single game tickets on June 29th, just for the Buccaneers home opener.

The Buccaneers organization announced this morning that the team is going to honor long-time veteran CB Ronde Barber in the team’s season opener against the Carolina Panthers. Barber will be starting his 200th consecutive game on September 9th.

In order to pump up the fans, the team has announced that the Buccaneers are going to offer free parking (on team lots), a Ronde Barber gym sack (whatever that means) and half priced concessions. Relax, it’s half price on food only, no alcohol, 12-pack priced drafts will remain at their inflated prices.

It is nice to see the current ownership do something to acknowledge one of the all-time greatest Buccaneers player. For several seasons after the Glazer’s attained ownership, the past history of the Buccaneers was dismissed. Tampa Bay, under the Glazer’s leadership, finally succumbed to playing games in retro uniforms and starting a ring of honor to acknowledge past achievements.

Barber is entering his 16th season in the NFL. He is the only player since the 1970 merger to start consecutive games at the corner position for 12 straight seasons. Barber is also the only player in NFL history to record 40+ interceptions and 25+ sacks in his career.

Although he showed signs of slowing down in the defensive backfield for the Buccaneers last season, the Buccaneers new coaching staff is trying him out at the safety position, playing alongside rookie Mark Barron. His veteran presence in the locker room will go a long way towards the development of the young Buccaneers roster.

Whether or not the Buccaneers current marketing approach to sell out the home opener is successful remains to be seen, but it’s a very respectable tip of the hat to a very loyal veteran.

 

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