The Buccaneers, as we now know, will open the 2003 season on Monday night, Sept. 8, in Philadelphia. It’s a rematch of the 2002 NFC Championship Game.
As we also know, the Bucs aren’t pleased.
NFL protocol has been allowing the defending Super Bowl champ to open at home, let alone on the road against a rugged, grudge-match rival debuting its new stadium. In fact, the last six defending Super Bowl champions hosted the first Monday night game after their NFL title season.
“I don’t see why we need to break that trend,” wondered Buc’s head coach Jon Gruden. “We sure would’ve liked to have played (the first Monday night game) at home. But we’ll show up and play, and we’ll make no excuses.”
What you might not know, however, is that the Eagles, except for owner Jeff Lurie, aren’t particularly pleased either. Check out the take of Philadelphia Daily News columnist Rich Hoffman.
“A home opener against Tampa Bay? In the first regular-season game at Lincoln Financial Field? Are you kidding me?” rhetorically asked Hoffman.
“The Bucs are coming in for the opener, courtesy of schedule-making-by-de-Sade,” bemoaned Hoffman. “Think about what your summer is going to be like now. Every time you look back at what might have been, you will see Tampa Bay and feel that ache in your heart. Every time you look ahead to what’s coming next, you will see Tampa Bay and feel that ache in your heart. There will be no escaping it