BUCPOWER.COM INTERVIEW - TJ RIVES
This interview took place in November 2010. Buccaneer fans will know him on game days as the sideline voice reporter working with Gene Deckerhoff and Dave Moore. Or as the host and interviewer of many Buc radio shows during the week. Or as the voice of many Tampa radio shows and broadcasts. And Bucs UK members will know him from the superb impromptu question and answer session he did for those at the pre-Wembley meal last year.

I have worked with TJ on many different shows over the past decade and took advantage of our friendship to collar him for another one of our site interviews. And what a cracker it turned out to be!

How did you get into the radio business?
I started in radio in college in the late 80's in Memphis (home of Elvis) and later interned at the all sports radio station in Tampa in 1991. That was later my first full time talk show host position starting in January of 1993.

Didn't you have a friend of the Bucs UK (Denis Crawford) as an intern in your early days?
I do remember Denis interning with me at that same station, WFNS (910 am) during that time. I believe it was 1994, but he can clarify that. Knew then and still know now that just like you, me, all of the Bucs UK, etc. he bled Orange and now bleeds Pewter.

What does gameday involve for you?
Gamedays are exciting. I am usually at the stadium at least two hours before kickoff and checking the field conditions and talking with players, coaches, etc who might be out there. We discuss general things like the turf, the wind (hasn't been a factor the last two weeks indoors!), general strategy, if an injured player is being worked out, etc. I also do two live segments on the radio for the pre game show and also a pre recorded interview with the head coach. So it is busy.

How hard is it getting the half-time and post-game interviews with Raheem?
The interviews are pre-set with Coach Rah. We either will get him going to the locker room or coming back out (television often dictates that, if they want him going to the locker room, then generally get him). The agreement is simple: 2-3 quick questions about what did you think of the half (or a specific play) what will you say to the team, etc? As for after the game, that is also a regular scheduled part of his postgame routine. He talks to the team, then the assembled media for a press conference and then I get him for 5-7 minutes after that.

Would it be easier just interviewing Henry Doran (Raheem's police escort) instead?
Henry is the best, but he carries a big gun and I don't want to tempt him too much. He makes sure that Rah and indirectly, me on the road, are protected when the interview is going on. LOVE HIM.

The radio show you do with Raheem each week, what is that like?
Raheem is great on Monday's. That is much more laid back, because it's an hour, it's just he and I and a radio engineer in the room and it's not right after a half or the game. Time to cool down, regroup and have some fun with me and callers. He has really gotten better and better at the interviews and the shows. It is NOT as easy as it looks or sounds (as I am sure Paul can attest!) Winning also has helped loosen everything up for this season. No one is in a good mood or will be very engaging when you are 0-7, etc.

How does Raheem compare to Jon Gruden?
Rah and Gruden are similar in some ways and different in others. They both have been GREAT with me on access and handling the questions (even pointed ones). Rah is much more animated/celebratory with his players. Gruden was more business like, but that is coaching and all styles are not going to be the same. They are both very intense. Rah might be faster at running down the sideline to call timeout with the refs, though.

Who are your favourite players on the team?
I don't single out FAVORITE players. Love them all. Always appreciate the guys who are willing to talk after a game, live, especially if we have lost. Those are the true professionals. Always easy when you win, but the pros know that I have a job to do.

Any other great stories you can tell from your time with the Buccaneers?
If I had to pick a memory (other than the obvious Super Bowl win in San Diego) on games that I have covered, and there are lots to choose from, it would probably be Christmas Eve game in '05 with Atlanta. The Bucs won in OT and basically clinched the playoffs.

I had just flown back all night (virtually no sleep) on the red eye with my wife and family from Hawaii from broadcasting Univ. of South Florida Christmas basketball tournament that week. Did a game on Friday afternoon in Honolulu and we went straight to the airport. We landed and I got the stadium about 90 min before kickoff.

The first time I saw Gruden all week was when he ran out of the tunnel about 10 min before kickoff. I went over and gave him a "fist bump" and said, "I just flew all night 10,000 miles for this. Get me a Christmas present, will ya?!" He smiled.

Then of course, the game had EVERYTHING. Bucs led. They tied it. We went to OT. Edell Shepherd fumbles opening kickoff, Dewayne White BLOCKS potential winning FG, Matt Bryant MISSES easy game-winning FG, Jim Mora Jr. is on his CELL PHONE calling Rich McKay upstairs to find out if a tie helps them make the playoffs. CRAZY. Then Matt Bryant finally wins the game with a FG with a minute left in sudden death. GREAT Game and great memory and then we went to Christmas Eve church services that night and I collapsed soon after! Hah

I hope this gives you insight into what I do. It is a blast to be part of the radio team with Gene and Dave every Sunday and bring our perspectives and thoughts on the game. I hope the fans (especially in the UK) are informed and entertained. We sure try. Go Bucs!