Over the years, people could not understand how a person living in Oregon could be a diehard fan for such a losing franchise located on the other-side of the country.
I remember how sad I was after that first NFC Championship loss to the Rams. 9-0. and 20 years later to lose to the Rams again in the NFC Championship… My heart aches.
The joke always was…
The Bucs will win the Superbowl in the next 10 years…of course I had said that for the previous 15.
Many thoughts passed my mind over the years. What would I do if they ever made it to the Superbowl? I knew for sure the only place I wanted to be was at the game or somewhere in the vicinity of the game. One thing for sure was…a party would be happening.
But…the Bucs kept losing.
My first Bucs game in person was in the old Kingdome in Seattle. It was the “20 years later” season that found the Bucs winning again. Unfortunately losing to the Rams again.
But the Kingdome was a fine place to break out the old ORANGE which had been replaced by the pewter. The Bucs won that game and under a rookie quarterback, marched all the way to the NFC championship.
Oh so close to that party I had been planning for so many years.
In 2003, my day finally came. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had finally made it to the Superbowl. However, this was not a year for parties. My dad’s cancer had returned, this coupled with a stroke didn’t leave things looking so good.
For several days prior to the game, while I was out of town for work, my dad laid in bed. He had become immobile. So sad.
With this, there was no question where I was to be for this game. My mind was no longer on all the things I dreamed about making this day into.
My heart was… there was no other place I would rather watch this game then to be at my dad’s side.
As I rushed home from out of town, my brother had got my dad out of bed and out to the living room. He was in his favorite chair. When I arrived, there he was. Not looking good, but in his favorite chair. I found my place next to him. I watched this game at his side sitting in his wheelchair.
The halftime shows at the Superbowl are usually spectacular and yet I found myself during this halftime show getting my dad out of his favorite chair and onto the portable toilet we had brought into the room.
Although I do not remember much more of the game. I remember the look in his eyes as he humbly, yet still, sat on that portable toilet as the Bucs had just won the game. He was so excited for me as he struggled to speak that which only his eyes could say.
…It was a look that said, “I love you.“ that only a heart could produce. It was also a look that appeared to be held captive within a body that could no longer operate the way it once did.
Have you ever wanted to just say something, but for some reason your lips wouldn’t move? This was the case and his eyes told the story.
A story that played itself out in the only way that would seem right, that after all these years, my team won. After all these years, there was no place I would rather be.
This was my party.
Shortly after the game, my post-game celebration consisted of getting my dad into bed and changing his adult-sized diapers. It was a painfully sad task, and not an easy one to accomplish at that.
But, again…there was no place I would rather be.
As we got dad settled into bed, my voice mail was busy being filled up by well-wishers congratulating me on the Bucs victory.
At this point, the game seemed all too distant.
The next day my dad was rushed to the hospital. It would be the last night he would spend in his home. A month and a half later. He was gone.
It would be the last football game I would watch with my dad. Ironically, my dad, a 49ers fan and I watched a few weeks earlier as the Bucs knocked them out of the playoffs.
I then sensed, this was my time.
A father to son passing of the torch. I was always excited watching my dad’s joy as his team won. And now…one last time…yet for the first time…the joy was returned.
It would not be until my birthday, one month after he died that I would realize the full extent of that Superbowl victory. I received a Buccaneer jersey and a special addition Sports Illustrated.
That’s right…the Bucs did win!!! What a game!
And now, seasons have come and gone, and yet…I…I will always have that ONE game…I will always have that ONE look.