Pre-season game lines
As in why? OK so I know there are some people out there who would bet on two raindrops falling down a window pane, but pre-season games? You have no idea how long starters will be in the game, what kind of playbook will be run and even if either team cares about winning at all.

So there are people out there who would take the Bucs to cover a potential four-point spread in Tennessee this weekend based on whether Josh Johnson can lead the third-string offense to a touchdown against a Titan defense featuring Joe Blow from Wichita State A&M and his three defensive backfield cousins.

Pre-season memories
I guess the one exhibition game that sticks out for me would be the 1986 American Bowl game at Wembley Stadium when the Super Bowl champion Bears took on the Cowboys in constant rain. I honestly can't remember who won but I do remember an inflatable doll doing a lap round the stadium during the fourth quarter being passed on by the fans. Wonder what the spread on that was.

Depth chart issues
Anyone notice the severe lack of depth on the offensive line? Outside of the starting five, Sean Mahan backs up center Jeff Faine and then not a single player has even a single NFL appearance to his credit. Marc Dile is doing his bit for the ex-USF Bull fans but there is surely no way the Bucs can go into the 2009 season with this situation. Calling all veteran offensive line cast-offs, the Bucs will give you a home in September.

Making his debut in Tampa
Not a player like Derrick Ward, not a coach like Raheem, but a TV analyst named John. Remember number 47? He will be working with Chris Myers on the Bucs' pre-season coverage during the next four weeks and it will be interesting to see how he comes across in the booth. "Sluggo seam Dexter, it's Sluggo Seam" - who can ever forget that call from Super Bowl XXXVII? Can John Lynch produce such soundbites on a weekly basis now this is his main job?

From the total BS category
Shaun F Alexander gave an interview this week in which he claimed that "several NFL teams" had talked to him about a comeback but he couldn't reveal which ones. Just maybe because they don't exist. Or it was a call that ended when the switchboard cut him off having held for two minutes. "Shaun F Alexander"? That comes from an ex-fantasy league colleague who got so fed up with Alexander beating him twice a season that he added the extra initial. And it didn't stand for Fantastic.

Jeff George watch
It's now been three weeks since any media outlet bothered to listen to his ramblings about his own comeback. Will any desperate radio station make the call? I'm sure someone could be dumb enough to do it or dumber enough to listen.

Pre-season expectations
Does it matter whether the Bucs go 4-0 or 0-4? Well, OK 2-2 would be acceptable even if to avoid certain "fans" finding another bat to beat the franchise and coaching staff with. The Bucs went 4-0 in 1983 behind Jerry Golsteyn at QB leading most people to make comments along the lines of "Doug who?" It was 10 weeks into the season until the Bucs won a meaningful game that season.

Pre-season reality
It's a 1am start here in the UK. And yes there will be British fans listening and watching live over the internet. Didn't you know us British were mad.

You've been great - enjoy Tears for Fears.

Paul Stewart,, 11 August 2009