Who says sequels are never as good as the original?
The week before the Bucs left for London I had the opportunity to debut my second book in Tampa. “Hugh Culverhouse and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers” was officially launched on Friday, October 14 at Bucs and Bulls Heaven.
Thanks to the work of Jeffrey Neil Fox of Bucs and Bulls Heaven and Jill Hobbs of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, fans were treated to the company of former Buccaneer players Mark Cotney, Reggie Lewis, Ian Beckles, Steve Wilson and Barry Smith.
Included among those fans were none other than Kurt McDonald, who flew all the way from Australia, and Rick Moore. Special thanks goes to Rick for bringing by his game-worn, 1981 Ricky Bell jersey. Many of you who read “McKay’s Men” know the respect I have for the former Bucs tailback who died tragically young. Bell’s placement on the cover of that book was no coincidence. Being able to get a close look at the jersey and reminisce about the man who used to wear it was a great treat.
Not to be lost in the celebration is the reason for the signing. Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Fox and the fans who paid the cover charge a great deal of money was raised for the Lee Roy Selmon Memorial Scholarship at the University of South Florida.
We need more Mr. Selmon’s and one of the best ways to ensure future leadership in Tampa is to provide educational opportunities. Hopefully in some small way we have started that ball rolling. It was an honor to play a part. Needless to say the former players had several great stories about Mr. Selmon but I agreed to keep their conversations off the record.
It was also a great chance to get to know a member of Bucs UK who is located at more of an outpost than Ohio! I met Kurt McDonald after the signing as the store was being closed. Mr. Fox and his number one assistant Richard kept the store open so Kurt could take in the vast array of Bucs merchandise. For those of you coming over in November, this store is definitely worth the drive out.
The next day I gave Kurt the Buccaneer nickel tour of Tampa. We stopped at the original location of One Buccaneer Place by the airport. There is nothing left of the old building, just an empty green space that will no doubt become yet another Starbucks some day.
A drive over to the University of Tampa and Pepin Rood Stadium followed. Pepin Rood was the home of Buccaneer training camp for many years. A quick pop by the Lee Roy Selmon expressway and a stop by Westshore Mall so Kurt could pick up a Rays jersey and then finally dinner at Lee Roy Selmon’s!
The next day was game day. I picked up Kurt at his hotel and introduced him to the American tradition of tailgating. We took in the What The Buc? Tailgate just behind the new One Buc Place. The tailgate is the brainchild of Derek “Old School” Fournier.
It is a family friendly potluck atmosphere with plenty of food, drink and games. The cost to park is quite minimal and all that is asked in return are two things: a monetary or culinary contribution and the promise to not be an ass! Kurt and I were fortunately able to comply with both directives. It was a pleasure to speak with “Old School” and Chef Red. The food was great (I highly recommend the pulled pork should it be offered again) and the atmosphere was festive.
After escorting Kurt to the Pirate Ship I made my trek to the upper deck of Raymond James and enjoyed watching the Bucs play one of their most complete games in quite a while, defeating the New Orleans Saints 26-20. I know the Bucs were simply doing their jobs, but I do thank them as this was no doubt the most exciting Bucs game I’ve ever seen in person.
I’d love to thank Mr. Fox and Mrs. Hobbs again for making the signing so much fun, Thank you also to Jack Harris for interviewing me on his WFLA radio show and the former players for coming to the signing.
I’d also like to thank Paul Stewart for creating Bucpower.com. Through my association with Bucs UK I have had the opportunity to travel abroad, gotten moral support in writing two books and met fascinating people from all over the world. I think Kurt is now an honorary Crawford and I look forward to seeing Rick again in November.
This is an amazing group of people. The football games are just peripheral; it’s the people that make it all worthwhile. I can’t wait until we all meet up in November. I’m proud of my hometown and proud of this club. It will be an absolute pleasure when they both meet!
Denis Crawford, October 2011