For the first time this year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are playing a primetime and already the vibes are immaculate.
There are a number of things happening on Monday night to make the occasion special, not the least of which is the fact that the Bucs are trying to go 3-0 for just the fifth time in franchise history. It's been an incredible start to the season, one that none of the pundits who buried the team over the offseason saw coming which has made it even sweeter to enjoy.
Monday night is also Ronde Barber's Hall of Fame night at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs legend will be honored throughout the game and is on-site to officially receive his Hall of Fame ring. The fact that he's getting it on a night where the Bucs are playing the Eagles adds some extra texture.
While Barber is being honored for what he accomplished during his career in Tampa Bay, Baker Mayfield is going to take the field and try to continue carving out his place in Buccaneers lore. He's played some of the best football of his career through the first two weeks of the season, and is looking to honor Barber the proper way with an upset win over the Eagles on national television.
He got an early start on that with his pregame outfit.
Baker Mayfield honors Ronde Barber, trolls Eagles with pregame outfit
Mayfield showed up to Raymond James Stadium in a Ronde Barber jersey, which is almost incomprehensibly cool. The main purpose was to honor a legend, which in of itself shows how bought in Baker is with the Bucs if he's digging into the past like this.
It's also a not-so-subtle shot at the Eagles, and a masterful first move on the chessboard tonight.
Holy moly, let's go.
Among the many things Barber accomplished in his Hall of Fame career, one could argue that his pick-six in the 2002 NFC Championship Game is the highlight of everything he did. Barber single-handily gave Bucs fans their greatest memory -- bigger than either of the Super Bowls in terms of the context in which it happened.
The catharsis of watching Barber seal the deal on an NFC title and officially break any sort of curse that was hanging over that iconic team is something that fans will take to their grave with an ear-to-ear smile. Winning the Super Bowl speaks for itself, but it's arguably secondary to the Barber pick-six and what it meant in the moment to fans.
Eagles fans, on the other hand, remain bitter to this day. It was one of the final plays to happen at the iconic Veteran's Stadium in Phialdelphia, as Barber shut down not only the Eagles domination of the Bucs in the early 2000s, but their legendary stadium as well.
That's the subtext in Baker showing up in a Barber jersey. On the surface it's an incredibly gesture that only earns him more points with Bucs fans, but it's also a shot across the bow that will age beautifully if Tampa Bay pulls off the upset.