Bucs must recapture their hunger to win

by Gary Shelton on September 9, 2021

in general

Arians will try to feed his team's hunger./TIM WIRT

Thursday, 3 a.m.

For months, they have been conquering heroes.

They have been praised, and feted, and admired. They have signed rich contracts. They have preened and posed and enjoyed their championship.

Now come the biggest enemy of them all.


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The Bucs will open their sequel season tonight against Dallas, and for them, the biggest obstacle is not Dak Prescott or Ezekiel Elliott or Amari Cooper or CeeDee Lamb.

The biggest obstacle is their hunger.

Oh, every champion will tell you that they still have the hunger the next season. They don't. Former Buc Warren Sapp once admitted that, in the year following their Super Bowl win of the 2002 season, things weren't quite the same. Success drains desire.

The next season, the Bucs won seven games, and things unraveled.

It isn't the only time a Super Bowl champion has stubbed its toe. The 1982 49ers went 3-6 in a shortened season. The '68 Packers went 6-7-1. The '99 Broncos went 6-10.

Hey, it isn't that a team doesn't want to win. Heck, everyone wants to win. But is the drive the same when there are no doubts to feed off of? It's hard enough to win it once; take a deep breath the next year, and the world will pass you by.

For the Bucs, the biggest counter to the lack-of-hunger argument is Tom Brady, who has been pro football's most dissatisfied competitor throughout his career. The guy is insatiable.

The other counter argument is the feeling that much of this roster is still proving itself. Devin White, Tristan Wirfs, Shaq Barrett, Carlton Davis and Antoine Winfield are still proving themselves.

The Bucs will struggle tonight. It will probably be close into the fourth quarter.

In the end, a better defense than Dallas' and Brady should make the difference.

Prediction: Tampa Bay 26, Dallas 24.

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