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Thursday, September 6, 2012
No. 97: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

By Morty Ain
ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 59
Title track: 33
Ownership: 87
Coaching: 74
Players: 108
Fan relations: 115
Affordability: 67
Stadium experience: 67
Bang for the buck: 110

It's been choppy waters for Bucs fans these last four years (9-7, 3-13, 10-6, 4-12), and this past season sent the crew overboard. Fans should almost be grateful the NFL's blackout rule spared them one-third of the season. Here's a quick recap for those unable to watch at home: The team surrendered a franchise-record 494 points -- a number that hadn't been topped since the 0-16 Lions. The Bucs were so leaky that Albert Haynesworth was brought in after Week 8. Less than 24 hours after ending the season with a 10-game losing streak (a franchise worst since the 1977 Creamsicle-Orange days) Raheem Morris was shown the plank. Hard to argue that move when the day before, his team trailed Atlanta 42-0 in the first half before the Falcons pulled their starters. That isn't to say this team is dead in the water. This offseason, management has taken advantage of the NFL's lowering its blackout requirement to 85% of home attendance and, more important, combined that with a reason for fans to show. Despite being notoriously penny-pinching, the front office finally cashed in on its whopping $60.5 million in cap space to reel in Vincent Jackson, Eric Wright and Carl Nicks. In addition to slashing prices on 80% of general-admission seats, starting ticket prices were lowered to $30 for adults and $15 for kids. Throw in free parking, half-priced concessions and a tribute to Ronde Barber's 200th consecutive start and the team's home opener might just be televised. As one of his first moves as head coach, Greg Schiano signed paralyzed former Rutgers player Eric LeGrand (whom Schiano used to coach) to the 90-man offseason roster, an addition that might not help in the win column but should go a long way for goodwill and fan relations.