Without the roar and camaraderie of the fans, a football game is just a game, isn't it? That's where "What The Buc" swoops in and give fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a real home base. And giant plates of food.
Cheryl "Spent" Stewart, founding member of "What The Buc", describes WTB as a bunch of live football junkies that love to share the experience with others. The popularity of WTB just kept growing over the years despite the less than stellar losing streak the Buccaneers found themselves in.
What is 'What the Buc'?
"Sixteen seasons ago, in the middle of what would become our second longest "losingest" streak, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had put forth, we started a little tailgate under our podcast's name What The Buc. As other tailgates eventually rolled up calling it quits, we took on the strays."
So this happy group of football fans kept the fun and food going, unexpectedly turning it into a charitable mission too.
"We aren't professionals, we're fans. People started chipping in to cover expenses, one week we lucked up and made a profit. We kept the few pennies for the following week, and as luck would have it, we had extra leftover again."
After covering their costs, the "What the Buccers" decided to give the profits to local charities. Almost a half-million dollars later, the "What The Buc Really Matters Foundation" is an official Florida non-profit making dents in some local needs, mostly those of children. Cheryl "Spent" Stewart is also the executive director of the foundation, making sure the money goes to the right place.
"We select a local non-profit that we support and has zero to little payroll. This year we are focusing on the reopening of youth sports. We believe they're essential to a healthy community. In our infancy, we used to make people bring stuff like peanut butter for the food bank, toys for underserved children, pillows for the local domestic violence shelter and diapers for foster parents. We still believe that touching a toy that will be in the arms of a child within days, or peanut butter that will be on the shelf of a single mothers' kitchen or a pillow a woman would lay her head on within days is some very powerful awareness. You know, as opposed to wearing a ribbon."
The charitable connection is icing on the cake of what is still, at its core, a group of friends and fans that are now the longest-running (fan or professional) tailgate in Buccaneers history. But Cheryl and the WTB crew aren't looking for any praise.
What It's Like to Tailgate with 'What The Buc'
"We have a lot of fun, drink some spirits and share our long-suffering fan tales with friends and help some kids out along the way. We certainly wouldn't want anyone to consider us anything more than some Robin Hoods who gather every game day in the shadows of Raymond James stadium for nearly 130 consecutive tailgates."
Thanks to Tom Brady, the WTB tailgate party is seeing lots of extra interest and attendance. They got some help by hiring Tampa's Wicked Oak BBQ to do the heavy cooking. The menu changes up a bit each week.
Tampa's Wicked Oak BBQ is known for its smoked meats and wicked eats. While the menu does change each game, some prime tailgating foods include pulled pork, brisket sandwiches, and loaded hot dogs.
The philosophy of What The Buc tailgate is simply "Don't Be An Ass." We asked Cheryl how this great life philosophy came about.
"It came from people being asses LOL. We want everyone, whatever team you support to be friendly. Don't take a plate that you can't lift with a wench, don't get drunk and obnoxious, or cussing in front of kids or unfriendly smack with an opposing team fan."
Tailgating Tips For Throwing Your Own Tailgate
Cheryl "Spent" Stewart really wants everyone to enjoy the What The Buc tailgate. And if you're new to tailgating in general, she has some great advice.
"Wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen, and remember it's hot in Florida until about December. Dive in. Don't be shy, act like you're supposed to be there. The football game is for spectators, tailgating is only as good as those participating!"
Tailgating, when done right, has replaced America's old-fashioned picnics and has been described as "a neighborhood without fences." So "Don't Be An Ass" and check out the What The Buc Podcast. And make sure to pay a visit to the WTB tailgate if you're in Tampa.
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