LAKE BUENA VISTA - Brandon resident Chris Jeffco had every understandable justification not to attend Tuesday's training camp workouts, but he was guided by one major motivation.
His wife would want him to be there.
Jeffco and his wife, Ann, were avid Bucs fans who attended training camp the past four years. They planned on attending camp this year until she was diagnosed with brain and breast cancer this summer. After a two-month battle with the disease, Ann died July 17, two days before her husband's birthday. She was 23. The funeral was July 22.
After contemplating if he should attend camp, Jeffco, a 1997 Armwood High graduate, decided to continue the family tradition with Micah, their 3-year-old son.
"It's a companion you had and it's not there anymore," Jeffco said. "It is definitely odd, but you've got to be strong because when it all comes down to it, I've got that kid to raise."
Jeffco, 25, and his wife applied for season tickets several years ago. Two months ago, Jeffco was informed he could purchase two, although they applied for three.
Because of his wife's passing, Jeffco is unsure whether he can afford those season tickets, but he plans to avoid thinking about his loss by heavily following Tampa Bay this season and passing along his love of the Bucs to Micah.
"I hate to say it, but it couldn't have happened at a better time because there is so much to do with the Tampa Bay Bucs," Jeffco said. "They have so much going on, and with the season coming around, hopefully we can go to a few games this year. It can occupy my Sunday's."
ON THE CUTTING EDGE
If QB Luke McCown wants to become a Hollywood actor, he is perfect for "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."
McCown was helping his older brother Josh, a quarterback for the Dolphins, clear land on the elder's property this summer. They decided to chop up trees into firewood, and Josh, in a move that would inspire an after-school special, decide to hold a log as Luke cut it with a chainsaw.
Nothing good could have come from that move.
The chainsaw kicked back off the log and Luke ended up slicing Josh's index finger [on his throwing hand]. As he bled, Josh appeared to have a major injury, but after six stitches, those crazy McCown boys were throwing the football around in the back yard a few hours later.
"We grew up around a sawmill. I've been using a chainsaw since I was in the seventh grade," Luke said. "Accidents happen sometime. It could have been a lot worse than it was. We've seen guys cut their fingers off growing up around the sawmill. We're very fortunate and very blessed."
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"It's probably all that California air he's been breathing. He's sucking air a little bit; it's hot here. That's what you get when you miss a few days." - Bucs coach Jon Gruden, when asked about QB Jeff Garcia's conditioning.