Work in Sports
Where am I?
Full stadium, raucous crowd ... I thought I was in Tampa
This is the 15th in a series of postcards Sports Illustrated's Peter King will e-mail from his annual NFL training-camp tour.
Friday, Aug. 4
TEAM: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
SITE: I saw the Bucs-Redskins preseason opener Friday night at Raymond James Stadium. Two things I really like about the stadium: The fans are close and the fans are loud. On the field during Washington's first offensive series, it sounded like a regular-season game, not the meaningless thing that it was. I never thought I'd say this about the pro football situation in Tampa: The Bucs have sold out the 66,321-seat place, plus all of the 259 luxury boxes. "And I haven't checked in a while," proud-papa GM Rich McKay told me before the game, "but we've got a waiting list of at least 2,000 for season tickets."
PLAYER I SAW WHOM I REALLY LIKED: QB Shaun King was Joe Accurate in 20 minutes of action, completing 10 of 11 passes for 104 yards, and giving a very positive first preview of the Keyshawn Era. "I think I can do better,'' King said. Oh, really? Then you'd be Joe Montana.
OPINION/FACTOID THAT MIGHT BE INTERESTING ONLY TO ME: There was a protest of lap-dancers -- I kid you not -- outside the stadium tonight. About 75 girls, libertarians and lecherous men picketed a block from the stadium. Seems the local pols are trying to institute a six-foot rule, meaning that nude dancers must be at least six feet from their clients during, ahem, work hours. One mini-mini-skirted lass carried a sign reading: "CLINTON GOT ONE. WHY CAN'T I GIVE ONE?"
THE FOOD: Memo to township fathers in my hometown of Montclair, N.J.: Please zone for a Waffle House. Lunch today with Redskins personnel czar Vinny Cerrato and PP man Doug Green was the best meal I've had on this training-camp odyssey. We chowed at the delicious southern staple today, just down the street from the Redskins' team hotel. Cerrato loves the sweet tea. He had three glasses.
My meal, with grades:
There is no food, other than Ann King's pasta, in this world better than the cheese eggs. They are better than filet, better than Emack and Bolio's chocolate chip ice cream.
Dear NFL Junkie:
This place has Keyshawn fever. The whole stadium is in love with him. Faces are painted. Number 19 jerseys outnumber all others in the stands. If I didn't know better, I'd have sworn this was an October Monday-nighter, not the absolutely, totally meaningless preseason opener. I don't think I've ever been at a preseason game with such a spirited crowd.
From what I'm told by Bucs people, it's all Keyshawn's doing. When Tampa traded two first-rounders to acquire him before the draft, the Bucs started a positive vibe around this team that has become a tidal wave.
A few days ago, when Bill Clinton visited practice at the University of Tampa, he asked McKay, "Where's Keyshawn?"
"I'm just excited to be part of this offense," Johnson said at halftime of tonight's game, which the Bucs won 13-12 on Joe Hamilton's fourth-quarter, fourth-down, 12-yard TD pass to Todd Yoder. Tampa had the better of play when the first units faced off in the first quarter.
"With all the enthusiasm surrounding tonight's game, I think we'll be alright," Johnson said. "We did a good job moving the ball. Tonight I think Shaun did a great job. He hit his receivers and was on target the entire first half."
King was the Bucs' player of the night. Johnson will be the Bucs' player of the year.
Check back soon for more postcards from camp. Next: Chicago (Sunday).