(Editor’s be aware: ESPN’s Bob McClellan grew up in Central Florida, and his father purchased six Buccaneers season tickets in 1976. His brother maintains 4 of them to these days.)
This would be the 10th time I’ve watched quarterback Tom Brady in a Super Bowl, however the first time I’ve rooted for him.
I’m most probably now not the one Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan in that send. It’s not anything private. The New England Patriots have been appreciated so closely so incessantly, and I’m simply now not the type of man who pulls for the overdog.
But in March 2020, after 20 seasons in New England below the steerage/thumb of trainer Bill Belichick, Brady went from any person else’s man to my Tommy.
I had a good time and texted the inside track to my brother, Bill, who took over our circle of relatives’s Bucs season tickets in 2003 after my dad gave up the ghost.
Here we’re 10 months later, and the signing of a lifetime has already paid off. The Bucs would be the first workforce to play at house within the Super Bowl. It’s like protecting a lottery price ticket that has hit all of the numbers and now you’re simply ready at the Powerball to see what number of holiday houses in a long way-flung locales you’ll find the money for.
My circle of relatives’s historical past, my profession, lots of the highest moments of my existence, are tied to the Buccaneers franchise. So I assume there are some things you will have to find out about why Brady’s accomplishment method such a lot to me. Why I screamed, yelled, admonished and cajoled Brady and trainer Bruce Arians throughout the NFC Championship Game in opposition to the Green Bay Packers whilst on my own in my area in Franklin, Tennessee.
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My dad purchased six season tickets for the Bucs’ inaugural season. His concept procedure at the back of six was once one for him and a good friend, one for Bill and a good friend of his, and one for me and a good friend of mine. We’d pile into my dad’s van, my mother would pack meals for a tailgate, and we’d power the 80 miles from my place of origin of Ocala, Florida, to Tampa. We’d depart at 10 a.m. for 1 p.m. house video games, giving us numerous time to discover a position to park, consume and stroll to the stadium.
We had nice seats, too. Originally six at the aisle, six rows up, at concerning the function line within the West stands. I used to be only a child, however what a blast it was once again within the day. Lee Roy Selmon, Richard “Batman” Wood, Mark Cotney, Doug Williams, Ricky Bell, Jimmie Giles. Some names you’ll take note even if you’re now not a Bucs fan; some just a Bucs gourmet will recall. Yes, I used to be there the primary time the Bucs gained a house sport (too unhealthy it was once the franchise’s 28th sport, however no matter!). Yes, I used to be there when the Bucs performed at house within the 1979 NFC Championship in opposition to the Los Angeles Rams.
In 1977 on the age of 12, I wrote a letter to the workforce and requested to interview trainer John McKay. I used to be younger and silly — I didn’t even come with a go back deal with. But the workforce answered a yr later to the sports activities editor of the newspaper in Ocala and invited me to come down to follow and sit down with McKay later on. Imagine that. Williams ignored follow with a damaged jaw that was once stressed close; the workforce PR man let me interview him whilst we watched follow. McKay took me again to his administrative center after follow, simply me and him. He sat at the back of the most important table I’d ever observed, lit up the fattest cigar I’d ever observed, and proceeded to solution all of my questions. The Ocala Star-Banner ran my Q&A with my first byline.
It’s 43 years and numerous bylines later, and I’ve been a certified sports activities journalist for greater than 30 of them. Bill, an lawyer in Orlando, has long gone on to have two sons (Billy, 28, and Connor, 25), simply as my oldsters did. And he started taking them to video games once they have been boys simply as my dad had. The seats have got higher over time. After I left Florida to paintings on the newspaper in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2000, my dad and Bill scale back to 4 tickets. The seats are 4 rows up, nonetheless at the aisle, across the 25-yard line, identical West stands.
My father died six weeks sooner than the Buccaneers gained their first Super Bowl after the 2002 season; actually, Bill were given the phrase of his passing whilst he was once at the approach to the Bucs-Falcons sport in December 2002 with Connor. They have been to have met my dad and a cousin on the sport.
Bill came upon Tuesday by the use of e mail from the Buccaneers that as a result of his status as a season-price ticket holder and the reality he opted in for this COVID-affected season (he ended up with tickets to 3 video games), he’s in a lottery for 2 Super Bowl tickets at face price. There’s no point out within the e mail if it’s a weighted lottery; I’m hoping a man with no less than 4 tickets for 45 years has a greater likelihood than any individual who has had two for 2 years, as an example. The e mail says he’ll to find out if he’s gained the lottery on or sooner than Monday then has 24 hours to acquire them.
Bill is 58 now. Always been a somewhat quiet man until you knew him neatly. Even those that know him neatly don’t know this, as a result of he’s now not been public about it: He beat most cancers this yr. Almost usually as a result of early detection.
He’ll watch the sport with Billy (actually, the Bucs beat the Packers on Billy’s 28th birthday). Connor has moved to Nashville, and I spoke to him Sunday night time about coming to my area for the sport. He stated he’s in, then we spoke in short about his grandfather and the remaining time the Bucs made a Super Bowl.
“I don’t know if this in reality took place, however I take note once we were given the decision about grandpa and grew to become round and went house,” Connor informed me. “I swear I used to be observing the sport on TV and noticed a shot of our 4 empty seats.”
I were given slightly choked up. I’m simply satisfied I didn’t lose some other circle of relatives member this yr sooner than a Bucs Super Bowl.
Go get it, Tom.