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Bucs will get some Hard Knocks; Fire Frogs selling Tebow tickets

Posted on Friday, July 14, 2017 at 3:24 pm

By Rick Pedone

The Tampa Bay Bucs are the featured attraction for HBO’s Hard Knocks NFL training camp series that begins airing Aug. 8.
The Bucs, after barely missing the playoffs last season, are one of the league’s preseason darlings. Some are tabbing the Bucs to win the NFC South championship.
Bucs fans would say, “Well, it’s about time, isn’t it?”
The Bucs last hoisted a division championship flag the same season that they won their Super Bowl, 2002.
Since, Tampa Bay has twice made the playoffs as a wildcard participant (2005, 2007), but it has been a long, unhappy decade since the team joined the playoff field.
Hard Knocks takes fans behind the scenes at NFL training camps as coaches piece together their teams. The series generally concentrates on a few players who have intriguing storylines.
During the 2007 preseason, Hard Knocks went to Kansas City when former Osceola High player Bobby Sippio tried out for the team as a wide receiver. Sippio, coming off a sensational 2006 season with the Arena League’s Chicago Fire when he scored a league-leading 53 touchdowns, made the Chiefs’ roster and played primarily on special teams before being cut prior to the 2008 season.
The Bucs will be the 10th team to appear on Hard Knocks since the series began in 2001 when it featured the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
There was a five-year hiatus between the 2002 season, featuring the Dallas Cowboys, and the 2007 season with the Chiefs. Dallas was featured again in 2008.
Other teams featured are Cincinnati (2009, 2013), the New York Jets (2010), Miami (2012), Atlanta (2014), Houston (2015) and the LA Rams (2016). There was no series in 2011 because of the NFL player lockout.
There seems to be about a 50/50 chance of the Hard Knocks teams advancing to the playoffs.
Cincinnati should beg to be the Hard Knocks participant every year. It made the playoffs both times that it was the featured team.
Baltimore, Houston and the Jets also were playoff teams during their Hard Knocks seasons.
The Bucs open their practices to the public July 28.

 The annual Forbes Magazine list of the most valuable sports franchises places the Cowboys No. 1 ($4.2 billion) for the second year in a row.
All that cash, and still owner Jerry Jones hasn’t been to a Super Bowl since 1995.
The Yankees ($3.7 billion) check in at No. 2, just ahead of English soccer powerhouse Manchester United ($3.69 billion).
Two more soccer teams, Barcelona ($3.64 billion) and Real Madrid ($3.58 billion) are next.
All of those Tom Brady Super Bowl wins are paying off for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The Pats ($3.4 billion) are No. 6 on the list.
The top 50 (51 this year – the New Orleans Saints and the Anaheim Angels tied at $1.75 billion) includes 29 of the 32 NFL teams. Hard as it is to believe, the Jacksonville Jaguars ($1.95 billion) and Cleveland Browns ($1.85 billion) both rank among the top 50 most valuable sports franchises in the world.
The Dolphins ($2.38 billion) are No. 25 and Tampa Bay ($1.8 billion) is No. 47.
The mystery of the rankings comes at No. 7, where the NBA trainwreck New York Knicks ($3.3 billion) are just ahead of the NY Giants ($3.1 billion).
How to explain the outrageous fortunes these teams have amassed? Guaranteed TV money, and friendly player contracts.
It will be interesting to see if the world’s sports leagues can continue to command king’s ransoms from the TV networks at the same time that a lot of viewers are cutting the cable TV cord.

If you are interested in watching former UF Gator Tim Tebow play for the Florida State League’s St. Lucie Mets next weekend against the Fire Frogs at Osceola County Stadium, it might be a good idea to buy your tickets.
Frogs spokesman Thaddeus Krzus said Thursday that many of the box seats are gone and the general admission tickets are selling well for the four-game series, which begins Friday and continues through July 24.
The stadium ticket office is open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday and until 7 p.m. on Monday.
The Fire Frogs, currently in Tampa, return to Kissimmee Tuesday for three games against Lakeland before the Tebow caravan arrives on Friday.
The Fire Frogs are offering $50 VIP tickets for the St. Lucie series that allows fans to watch batting practice at 4:30 p.m. Also included is special seating, a parking pass and a commemorative bottle of dirt from the batter’s box.
It is very special dirt.