Gridiron Goes Global

'Bucs choose to embrace Wembley way', says Morris

Last Updated: 25/10/11 1:07pm

Head coach Raheem Morris told Special Report that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should have a home base in the UK.

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"When you talk to a lot of fans in Tampa they often evoke the purchase of Man U as the beginning of the end of the Buc franchise when in fact they've been fairly successful."

Ira Kaufman, of The Tampa Tribune

Quotes of the week

The Bucs are back in London for the second time in three years this week to take on the Chicago Bears on Sunday as the NFL's Wembley experiment enters a fifth year.

And Morris, whose side lost 35-7 to the New England Patriots in front of a crowd of 84,254 in 2009, hopes that one day there could be a permanent franchise in England.

"I get excited when you talk about sport going global, that's when you talk about being beloved by everyone," Morris told Special Report.

"For me it's just exciting to think about it if you bring a team over that way it's not much further than going on a west coast trip.

"A lot of people like to make it miserable; we choose to enjoy it, we choose to embrace it. I enjoy the whole idea of possibly having a home base in London and being able to go there - or coach there whatever the case may be - and have that be our team.

"I remember the Super Bowl-like environment on Game Day was the biggest part for me. The only other time I've seen a stadium that excited, in that mood, with that much pre-game hype was the Super Bowl that we played in 2002 in San Diego."


The NFL has already agreed to play at least one regular-season game in the UK until 2016 and Tampa Bay General Manager Mark Dominik believes that commitment is crucial to the expansion of the sport even though, in real terms, the annual fixture continues to lose money.

"I think Wembley absolutely epitomises all of those things that you want to get ready for when you go play a Super Bowl," he said.

"When the opportunity came up that we could go back to Wembley we quickly grabbed it and said yes.

"I don't know if that (a London franchise) is ever going to actually happen in terms of what they are doing but I certainly know we are trying to expand our game to London and we are seeing that there is a lot of fan interest as well and I think that is a good marriage."


The Glazer family - Manchester United's owners - purchased the Buccaneers in 1995, yet while they have seen the Premier League side lift trophies on a regular basis the Florida franchise has endured a lean spell since winning the Super Bowl in 2002.

Dominik insists that the owners remain committed to the Bucs cause: "Having been around them now for the last 17 seasons - certainly in a different capacity for the last three - I think they are just as excited as we are about the football team we're building here in Tampa," he said.

But Ira Kaufman, of The Tampa Tribune, revealed that some fans are concerned that the Glazers have taken their eye of the NFL ball since buying United.

He said: "From my perspective it hasn't had a major impact but when you talk to a lot of fans in Tampa they often evoke the purchase of Man U as the beginning of the end of the Buc franchise when in fact they've been fairly successful."


The goal now for Morris - at 35 the youngest head coach in the NFL - is to mirror the success achieved by the Glazer's other head coach, Sir Alex Ferguson.

"I was fortunate enough to go over there (Manchester) and watch a match and that was a great experience for me; we actually had a nice dinner with those guys and I got a chance to meet Sir Alex Ferguson.

"He was exactly what I thought he would be: a class act. He talked about some of his principles, like playing fast, playing hard, playing smart, playing consistent. You've got to admire anybody who has done it as long as he as for as good as he has with that type of effort."

You can see the action live from Wembley as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face the Chicago Bears from 5.30pm this Sunday on Sky Sports HD3.

Missed the show or want to watch it again? Catch 'Gridiron goes Global' and follow our team as they enjoy unprecedented access at the Bucs on Sky Anytime.

Next Monday's Special Report - on Sky Sports News HD at 7.30pm - profiles Aaron Cook and Euan Burton, two martial artists who are fine tuning their preparations for a tilt at Olympic gold.