2003 NFL Preview

A new quest

Tampa Bay's climb back to top promises to be even tougher

Posted: Friday July 11, 2003 11:29 AM
  Warren Sapp could be entering his final season with the Buccaneers. Al Bello/Getty Images

By Ryan Hunt,

Tampa Bay began its 2002 season in Celebration, and it ended there, as well.

So as the Buccaneers return to their training camp just outside of Disney World -- aptly named Celebration, Fla. -- where is the NFL sending them to start off 2003? Welcome back to Philly, baby.

Apparently, the schedule makers had a hard time processing: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Super Bowl champions.

Make no mistake, Jon Gruden and the Bucs are none too happy about having to open their quest to repeat on the road in Philadelphia. On Monday night. To open the Eagles’ brand new stadium.

Such is life as the hunted. If there is any afterglow or complacency following its first championship season, Tampa Bay will get a couple of D-batteries upside its head in Week 1. But, really, has anyone ever accused Warren Sapp of not being hungry?

Sapp and the rest of the Bucs are going to need to be, or they could be devoured in a six-game season-opening death march. Aside from a Week 2 home game against Carolina, Tampa Bay also has to go to Atlanta, Washington and San Francisco, with a Monday night home grudge match against Tony Dungy’s Colts thrown in the middle. Yikes.

It took the franchise 27 years to climb NFL’s version of Mt. Everest. Well, Chucky, we’d like to introduce you to Mt. Kilimanjaro. Bring your snow shoes, ‘cause this is some tough sleddin’.

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