Bucs head coach Greg Schiano gives a press conference ahead of Sunday's home opener against Carolina.
Tampa, Florida -- Sunday's home opener for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Carolina Panthers has been blacked out, as once again the team failed to sell out Raymond James Stadium.
The Buccaneers have not played in front of many large home crowds recently. Over the past two seasons, 15 of the team's 17 games inside Raymond James Stadium were blacked out to local fans on TV, because the attendance figures didn't meet the required minimum number needed to allow local TV coverage.
The numbers aren't pretty, but the players don't seem to notice.
"We don't really worry about that, man. There will be enough fans there at the game," said cornerback Aqib Talib. "I don't worry about if the games are on TV here. We've got Steve Smith and Cam Newton to worry about. We can't really worry about no blackouts."
Smith and Newton are two of the Carolina's biggest weapons. In the two games against the Bucs last season, Newton accounted for eight touchdowns.
During a midweek press conference, head coach Greg Schiano pleaded with fans to come out to the first game of the year.
"We need your help," he said. "That can be, and has been, an awesome homefield advantage."
The 2012 Bucs will open the season at home for the fourth straight season. In 2009, the Bucs' announced attendance was 63,806. A year later, 47,211 fans watched the Bucs beat Cleveland, 17-14. Last season, the Bucs-Lions matchup drew 51,274 fans.
The first home game of the season kicks off against Carolina at 4:25 Sunday afternoon. Due to the blackout, Fox will instead show the San Francisco 49ers/Green Bay Packers game.