It's the heart of the NFL offseason, but hardcore football fans have more than just upcoming free agency and draft talk to keep them busy. In just 10 days the 2003 NFL Europe season will begin preparations with the opening of training camp in Tampa Bay on February 24. On that Monday the skill-position players that have been allocated by the 32 NFL teams, the quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs, tight ends and centers, will arrive in the Tampa area to begin working out with the six NFLEL franchises. The rest of the offensive and defensive linemen will arrive on March 2.
In actuality the action begins three days before the full-camp opening, when the national players will be in Tampa to take part in a three-day mini camp prior to the arrival of the American athletes. It will be the third season in a row that the NFLEL has held its preseason training camps in the Tampa Bay area and the league expects another successful stint in Florida between February 24 and March 23, following which time the teams will return to Europe for the start of the league's 11th season on April 5.
"It's great to be back in the Tampa Bay area for the third year in a row and it will be exciting for us to conduct our preseason in the home of the reigning Super Bowl champions," Nick Polk, NFL Europe Senior Director of Football Administration, said in a league press release. "We have a great relationship with the Buccaneers, receive outstanding support from the local community and city officials. The facilities in the area are of the highest standard and offer our teams the best possible circumstances in which to prepare for the new season."
The six NFLEL teams will be spread out over various facilities in the Tampa Bay area. The Amsterdam Admirals will work out at Lakewood High School, The Barcelona Dragons at Clearwater High School, Berlin Thunder at Boca Ciega High School, Frankfurt Galaxy at the University of Tampa, Rhein Fire at Plant High School and the Scottish Claymore will use Alonso High School as a temporary home. The highlight of the training camp period will likely be the game-condition scrimmages that will take place at Raymond James Stadium on March 15.
A reminder for all those wanting to follow the Patriots players in Europe, T.C. Taylor will be playing for the Barcelona Dragons. Linebacker Courtney Ledyard will take the field for the Rhein Fire. Mike Clare will spend his second season with the Frankfurt Galaxy and five Patriots, Rodney Trafford, Shane Stafford, Mike Malan, Scott McCready and Dyshod Carter, will all be Scottish Claymores for the spring league.
The 2003 NFL Europe regular season runs from April 5 through June 8. World Bowl XI will be played on June 14 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Former Patriots strength and conditioning coach Johnny Parker was let go by the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday. Parker had just completed his first season with the Bucs and served as the strength coach on his fourth Super Bowl team. He was the Patriots strength and conditioning coach for seven seasons from 1993-99.