Week 6 of the 2012 Season was where my love affair with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers began.
A throwaway comment from a Pittsburgh Steeler loving workmate in September 2012 about going to an NFL game whilst on a family vacation in Florida led to my Son and I being in attendance at Raymond James Stadium that day.
Just to show how little we knew about the Bucs roster back then, I was wearing a home 24 Mark Barron jersey with my Son decked out in a home 5 Josh Freeman jersey. There was no denying we were newbies to the Buccaneers faithful.
The visitors to Tampa that day were the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs, in their famous red jerseys, were no match for the Bucs who looked resplendent with their white jerseys glowing brightly in the Florida sun.
Tampa ran out comfortable 38-10 winners and I was now a Buccaneer for life.
Little did I know that from that day until the start of the 2020 season, the Buccaneers would have the worst record of all NFC teams.
Only one winning season in that time, countless losses, a number of embarrassing defeats and a continuous run of home losses that stretched over three seasons it hasn’t been an easy ride. Looking on in envy as every other NFC team since 2012 has played in at least one Play-off game.
But the one thing that never waned was my support for my adopted team.
I lived and breathed Buc ball. Season after season of hope and expectation were usually crushed by Week 8. But still I would defend my Pewter and Red heroes to the hilt with the hope that one day, just one day, the Bucs would be back at the Post-season. Even with an ever-improving roster, the results would just be as disappointing as the previous season.
I would watch Bucs Play-off games from what seemed like yesteryear just to imagine what it must have been like.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I have watched America’s Game – The Story of the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on GamePass. I would get all misty eyed as after each season, the Bucs would get further away from ever playing in a Super Bowl again. Even making the Play-offs felt unlikely.
And then came the 2020 season. A season like no other. Even with legendary Quarterback Tom Brady signing for the Bucs, the lack of pre-season games due to the COVID restrictions hurt Tampa more than most teams. The Bucs were going to have to learn on the go and learn quickly.
There was always going to be bumps along the way but after the bye week in Week 13, Tampa has been unstoppable.
Seven wins on the bounce which includes three successive Play-off wins on the road scoring 30 plus points against three top 10 Defenses. Not only were the Bucs finally back in the Play-offs, they made it all the way to Super Bowl 55 which happens to be in Tampa.
Standing on the cusp of greatness, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 60 minutes away from history. 60 minutes away from lifting the Vince Lombardi trophy at home against the current Super Bowl Champions. 60 minutes away from America’s Game – The Story of the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A day which felt would never come. A historic home Super Bowl. It promises to be a day never to forget for long suffering Buccaneers fans everywhere.
The Kansas City Chiefs wearing red jerseys against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wearing white jerseys in Raymond James Stadium. A throwback to where it all began for me and my Son on that sun-baked October Sunday afternoon in 2012.
Gone will be the Mark Barron and Josh Freeman jerseys. Replaced with jerseys representing current Buccaneers legends; Lavonte David and Mike Evans. The chances of an identical 38-10 scoreline in Tampa’s favour? That would be the cherry on top of the cake.