Best Buccaneer Pro Bowl Ever?

With more than one player in the Pro Bowl for the first time in four years, the Buccaneers had an opportunity to make a strong impact in the NFL’s all-star game on Sunday.  They didn’t disappoint.

WR Vincent Jackson, RB Doug Martin and DT Gerald McCoy made the Buccaneers’ pewter helmets highly visible in the sea of blue and white jerseys, from the beginning of the evening until the end.  Jackson was the Bucs’ first receiver in the Pro Bowl since 2003, Martin was the team’s first all-star ballcarrier since 2002 and McCoy was Tampa Bay’s first starter in the game since 2008, and they all played extensively.

That Buc trio combined to produce 139 yards from scrimmage, three touchdowns, a tackle for loss and a turnover that set up one of the NFC’s eight touchdowns.  Jackson scored the conference’s first points on a 36-yard touchdown catch in the opening quarter and he was the only NFC player to find the end zone twice.  Martin also scored, and McCoy set up Jackson’s second touchdown of the night with a fumble recovery.

It was a heady night for the Buccaneers – or afternoon, actually, in Honolulu – and one that bodes well for the franchise’s immediate future.  But was it the best representation the NFL’s 27th franchise has ever had in the Pro Bowl? Continue reading

Gerald McCoy Answers Fans Questions

Have you ever wondered if Gerald McCoy, the Buccaneers’ Pro Bowl defensive tackle, felt like he was proving doubters wrong with his breakout 2012 campaign?  Well, Twitter user @TheChrisDez did, and he was able to get the answer, thanks to the Buccaneers.

Shortly before heading off to Hawaii, McCoy spent a while in front of a camera fielding questions sent in by Buccaneer fans via Facebook and Twitter.  The Buccaneers have begun to post those videos, one by one, on their Facebook page.

So Chris got his answer, as have about a half-dozen fans so far.  Find out if McCoy has ever surfed or had coconut milk, how he feels about making it through a season injury-free and what player’s brain he’d like to pick.

McCoy will play in the Pro Bowl on Sunday (as you can see above, he and teammates Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson are in Hawaii and ready to go).  In the meantime, more of his videos will be posted on Facebook, so continue to check them out if you sent in a question.

TBBC Pro Bowl Cheerleader Lauren’s Blog from Hawaii

Aloha Bucs Fans!

Lauren here! Your 2013 Pro Bowl Cheerleader! It’s such an honor to represent our Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders here in Hawaii!

Day 1:

Today started of early… My husband got me to the airport 6:30 AM, in full hair and makeup, before my 15 hours of traveling. Woo hoo! But I was very excited and ready to go!

After a nice, short flight to Atlanta, landing, major airport traffic and sitting on the plane for an extra 30 minutes, I somehow made it from one end of the airport to the other in less than seven minutes. It was a little stressful to say the least! But once I was on board, I got to pull out an awesome little package from my TBBC sisters. The outside of the package read “Do Not Open Until You Are On Flight 837 – Love TBBC”. The package was filled with letters from all of the Buccaneer cheerleaders. It truly made my 11-hour flight so much more enjoyable!

After reading each letter, I started looking around the plane and saw some other Pro Bowl Cheerleaders and got so excited! They all looked so beautiful, but were too far away to meet. My anxiety was increasing, I just wanted to talk to them so badly!

When we finally made it, all seven of the PBCs that were on the flight waited at the end of the gate for each other. It was as if we were all best friends and we just hadn’t seen each other for a while. So awesome! Continue reading

Pack Your Bags, Doug!

This time a year ago, Doug Martin was getting ready for his first Senior Bowl practice.  This week, he’ll be preparing to take the field with the greatest players in the NFL.

Martin, the Buccaneers’ record-breaking rookie running back, is headed to the Pro Bowl.  The official announcement of this fact may have to wait a few hours, but it’s a simple matter of connecting the dots.  Martin was named the first alternate to the NFC Pro Bowl squad at running back this year, and one of the three all-star selections in front of him, San Francisco’s Frank Gore, is now headed to New Orleans for the Super Bowl.  Gore will be unavailable for the NFL’s all-star game, so Martin will take his place.

UPDATE: The NFL has already officially informed the Buccaneers that Martin is replacing Gore in the Pro Bowl.

Fortunately for the former Boise State star, he’ll have several Buccaneer teammates on hand to help him get acclimated to the Pro Bowl scene in Honolulu.  Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and wide receiver Vincent Jackson will also be playing for the NFC, and while McCoy is a first-time all-star Jackson has made the trip two times before.

Martin’s Pro Bowl selection is another indication that the Buccaneers’ offense is awash in potential.  The 2012 team already broke the franchise single-season records for yards and points gained, and with Pro Bowl offensive linemen Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks returning from injured reserve in 2013 that could just be the beginning.  After all, Jackson and Martin will be the first WR-RB pair ever to make the Pro Bowl in the same season for the Buccaneers.

Martin is the third rookie in team history to make the Pro Bowl, all three of which have been running backs.  Warrick Dunn went straight from the draft to the all-star game in 1997, as did Clifton Smith in 2008, though Smith made it as a kick returner.  Martin will be one of just three rookies in this year’s Pro Bowl, joining Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III and Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh (Griffin will not play in the game due to injury).

Point/Counterpoint: Can the Pro Bowl Be Saved?

On Tuesday, the Buccaneers learned that their own Vincent Jackson had been added to the Pro Bowl roster, where he joins teammate Gerald McCoy and, if things go right this coming weekend, perhaps Doug Martin as well.  Presumably, Johnny BucFan just got a few more reasons to watch the NFL’s all-star game on January 26.  But will he?

You see, we should probably call it the NFL’s beleaguered all-star game.  Right now, the Pro Bowl is about as popular as the kid who asks the teacher for extra homework at the end of class.  Last year’s game included a combined 100 points, but it wasn’t the type of fireworks display that impressed its viewership.  After all, if you’ve ever seen a football team practice you’ve seen a lot of “touchdowns,” too, but nobody is rushing to televise that.

You won’t find too many pure defenders of the Pro Bowl these days.  Even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said this past October that the game might have to go away if it isn’t fixed.  However, there are surely those who believe it can be fixed, and that the NFL should have a fun, popular all-star event just like MLB and the NBA, and to a lesser extent the NHL.  The real question is, given the nature of the game of football, is it actually possible to play a useful all-star game that both players and fans will enjoy?

So that’s our question this week, Andrew: Can the NFL’s Pro Bowl be saved?  I’ll let you have first crack at it. Continue reading

Jackson Humbled by Pro Bowl Honor

On Tuesday, Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson learned that he had been named to his third Pro Bowl and his first as part of the NFC squad.  Jackson, the first alternate at his position, was chosen because Detroit’s Calvin Johnson will be unable to play due to injury.

Jackson had this to say about his selection:

“It’s always humbling to be selected to the Pro Bowl, and I would not have been able to achieve this without the help of my coaches, teammates, and the Buccaneers staff. With all of the hard work we put in during the offseason and regular season, for it to be recognized by not only the fans, but also your peers in the league, is simply an incredible honor. I truly appreciate the support and am thrilled to share this amazing experience with the entire Buccaneer Nation.”

Pro Bowl By the Numbers

Lavonte David did not make the Pro Bowl as a rookie, but his debut NFL season was so impressive that it suggests possible all-star trips in his future.  If David does indeed make it to Hawaii during his career, he will be adding to the Bucs’ considerable Pro Bowl legacy at the linebacker position.

No position has sent more players to the Pro Bowl in franchise history than linebacker, and – thanks primarily to Derrick Brooks – no position has more overall selections.  Five different linebackers have represented Tampa Bay in the all-star game: David Lewis, Hugh Green, Hardy Nickerson, Derrick Brooks and Shelton Quarles.  Those five have combined for 20 overall Pro Bowl trips, 11 of them belong to Brooks and five to Nickerson.

However, Vincent Jackson’s selection on Tuesday as Calvin Johnson’s injury replacement has closed the gap quite a bit.  Continue reading

NFC Playoff Results Guarantee Another Buc Pro Bowler

Gerald McCoy will have a teammate with him in Hawaii at the end of the month when the NFL plays its 2013 Pro Bowl.  He just doesn’t know which one yet.

The results of the two NFC Divisional Playoff Games this weekend essentially guaranteed that a second Buccaneer will be added to the conference’s Pro Bowl roster, joining McCoy and about four dozen others.  When the Falcons take on the 49ers in San Francisco Atlanta next Sunday for the right to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLVII, they will also determine which Buc gets a ticket to Honolulu.

Here’s why: Both Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin were named first alternates for the Pro Bowl when the teams were announced in late December.  That means that either one would automatically be the next player chosen if one of the Pro Bowlers at their position is unable to play in the game for any reason.  Going to the Super Bowl is one of those reasons.  Since the Pro Bowl is now played the weekend before the Super Bowl, no player who is getting ready for the big game is going to go to Hawaii.

And, no matter what happens next Sunday, one of the players in front of either Jackson or Martin is going to be going to New Orleans to battle for the Lombardi Trophy.  If San Francisco wins the NFC Championship Game, then 49ers RB Frank Gore will pull out of the Pro Bowl and that will create a spot for Martin.  If Atlanta wins, then Falcons WR Julio Jones will pull out of the Pro Bowl and that will create a spot for Jackson.

So it’s a win-win for the Buccaneers, in a way.  And, of course, there is always the possibility that one of the NFC’s Pro Bowl backs or wideouts will pull out of the game for another reason, and both Jackson and Martin will be booking flights to Hawaii.  However, though nothing is yet official, it’s clear that at least one of the two is definitely headed to the Pro Bowl.

Odds and Ends: Other Games on the Horizon

Backyard Game: For the second year in a row, the very useful East-West Shrine Game, featuring dozens of draft-eligible college all-stars, will be held practically in the Buccaneers’ backyard.

This year will be the 87th Shrine Game, which has been going strong since 1925, raising funds for Shriners Hospitals for Children.  It was staged annually in California for eight decades before spending four years in Houston and two in Orlando.  Finally, last year, the game was relocated to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, not far from the Shriners’ headquarters in Tampa. Continue reading

Pro Bowl Would Be a Thrill for Rookie Martin

Doug Martin isn’t a Pro Bowler…yet.

There’s a good chance the Buccaneers rookie will be officially an all-star before he even starts his second NFL season.  While Martin was not one of the three running backs named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad on Wednesday, he was identified as the first alternate behind a trio of established veterans – Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and Frank Gore.  Should any one of those three (or more than one) be unavailable on pro Bowl weekend, either due to health concerns or their teams still being alive in the playoffs, Martin would be the first back to get the call to Hawaii.

On Thursday, Martin called that alternate selection “a great honor,” and he’s right.  It’s relatively rare for a rookie to make enough of an impact to vault him ahead of the many veterans with more established Pro Bowl pedigrees.  There are only two rookies on this year’s Pro Bowl teams so far, in fact: Washington QB Robert Griffin III and Minnesota K Blair Walsh, both of the NFC. Continue reading