TAMPA ― Talk to one member of the Super Bowl 37 champion Bucs, and the team was focused, prepared and motivated to defend its NFL title the following season.
“The minicamps were all tremendous,” quarterback Brad Johnson said. “The training camp was great. We did have to play a fifth (preseason) game over in Tokyo, Japan. That was another deal. But no, we came out and beat Philly on the first night 17-0. It was a heavyweight championship game to start the season.”
Talk to another, and players were selfish, hoping to cash in, undisciplined and unaware of the target on the back of their jersey.
“It was everything you could possibly imagine,” defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. “The whole thing about going through the championship, you find out what everybody is about after you win it. You figure out every qualm, every screwy thing about every one of your teammates. That’s why we went 7-9.”
One thing everyone agrees on is it began as well as could be expected.
The Bucs were the last Super Bowl team to have to open the following season on the road.
They had closed the Vet and then opened the Linc.
Having won the NFC Championship Game at Philadelphia in the final game at Veterans Stadium, the Bucs shut out the Eagles in the debut of Lincoln Financial Field to start the 2003 season.
They looked invincible in a rematch of the conference…