TAMPA, Fla. - Since 2007, Curt Menefee has been the calming leader in Fox NFL Sunday's cast of colorful characters. As the host of the show, Menefee -- along with Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Michael Strahan and Jimmy Johnson -- breaks down the games and gives insight to the hottest NFL storylines.
Rarely does that include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but this season that's going to change.
"They've become the sexy team,” Menefee told FOX 13 Sports. "The things you have to wonder or worry about is that last year at this time, the Cleveland Browns were the sexy team. They went on going 7 and 9 again. You're like, ‘Same ol’ Browns again.’”
"I do think there is a difference here obviously,” Menefee continued, “Not only that you have an experienced guy in Tom Brady, even though he'll be 43 and he may not be the guy he was in his prime. Even Gronk, taking the year off, having to put the weight back on, probably won't be the guy he was before all of his injures. Still, they're established veterans, who come in with a winning culture. I looked at the coaching staff there and I think that is the difference when you try to compare them to a team like Cleveland or all those other teams every year that are the hot teams in the offseason. They are going to be fun to watch."
Bruce Arians believes last year's Bucs were a playoff team, if Jameis Winston didn't turn the ball over as much as he did. Arians thinks he has a Super Bowl contender now, but are the Bucs the team to beat in the NFC?
"I don't know if I'd put them the team in the NFC,” said Menefee. “I still think they're behind San Francisco. I still think they're behind the Saints in the NFC South. I do think they're competitive and we've seen once you get into the tournament, the playoffs, everyone has an equal shot. I do think they're a good enough team to win double-digit games, get into the playoffs and be able to make some noise."
Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady celebrate while holding up the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. Both are now Buccaneers. (Photo b
Speaking of noise, Menefee knows Rob Gronkowski well. Gronk worked for FOX in his short retirement. Menefee had to laugh, but knew not to take it serious when he heard Gronk's comments that he's had the Bucs’ playbook for a month.
"That's Gronk,” chuckled Menefee. "I think one of the things about him, though, is that he brings the antics, he brings the craziness, the party, but he's a hard worker, though. Don't get fooled by the party guy, the off-the-wall craziness he brings. He's a football player and a guy that works hard and is going to have the other guys who are there, the younger guys. He'll set a good example and they'll follow him on the field."
Menefee has his fingers crossed that there will be a season this fall to continue to talk about, but he fears it's going to start without fans in the stands.