A playoff-berth bar to be met or raised in Tampa Bay sports in the months ahead
A drought to end, a streak to continue, and the number 10 to be met or raised in 2016/17.
While you wait for the NHL to cease its summer hibernation and the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise to resume competition within it, the rest of the sports world treks on. Major League Baseball just had its All-Star break, the trade deadline is looming in that league as well (...and the Tampa Bay Rays are in mired in non-competitiveness). On the international scene, not only is the World Cup of Hockey forthcoming but the general sports world will ignite for the Summer Olympics in Brazil.
Also oncoming to fill the time, this in the American sports world is start of training camps for the 32 franchises of the National Football League and more specifically / locally the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs training camp is set to open late in July with bright and early start times for each day. This season also just happens to be the Bucs 40th year in the NFL. That's a major benchmark for the club and Tampa Bay by way of it -€” happy pro-sports market anniversary everyone! You can find coverage of the franchise and day-to-day stuff for the club here at SB Nation over at Bucs Nation.
Yet things aren't all bright and sunny at One Buccaneer Place when you consider a little factor following the team into the 2016 season: The Bucs have not made the NFL playoffs since 2007.
Through their previous 39 years of existence, the Bucs have participated in the playoffs 10 times (1979, 1981, 1982, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2007) winning the Super Bowl in 2002 and appearing in NFC title games in 1979 and 1999 (actually, that was January 1980 and January 2000, respectively, for each appetence). The NFL is a competitive beast and there's debate to be had about playoff appearance consistency and the lack of it for the Buccaneers (understandable? Culverhouse/Glazer blamable? You be the judge).
It's also noteworthy that the Tampa Bay Lightning, who will be entering their 24th year competing in the NHL, has only one less playoff berth in their existence than the Bucs. The Lightning has made the playoffs nine times (1996, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016) since starting play in 1992-93, falling in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011 and 2016, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015, and winning Lord Stanley's Cup in 2004.
Interesting feat, yes, but I want to stress how the NFL is a different beast than the NHL. For instance, the NFL's fewer games played in a season gives more weight on competition for all games. There are more physical tests for an NHL player in a season (lasting 82 games, with only so many minutes of performance a game) compared to the NFL, though the NFL has more guys on-field consistently (12 per team) and on roster (53) than the NHL. The NHL didn't have more than six total franchises until 1967-68 and only 18 clubs in 1976-77 for the NHL while the NFL's expansion of that year brought their total to 28 franchises. Even now, the NFL has more clubs (32) than the NHL (30) which is a factor in competitiveness.
So, the Bucs are out to end the franchise's latest playoff drought. Meanwhile, the Bolts are looking to tie a franchise benchmark by making the playoffs for the fourth straight season (and literally the fourth consecutive year for the first time ever). Can they match the Bucs number of playoff appearance all-time? Will the Buccaneers prevent the tying possibility by making the NFC playoffs? We'll have half of this answered by New Years 2017, with the second half (if still applicable) answered in the spring.