My wife and I love football and we were Miami Dolphins fans until the Bucs came to Tampa and now we are die-hard Tampa Bay Bucs fans…through the good, the bad and the ugly, this Super Bowl was worth the very long wait between Super Bowl wins! Even though we didn’t get to celebrate with all our friends this time due to the pandemic, we ate just as much junk food and consumed as much wine as always. Did you know that the Super Bowl is the second-largest day for U.S. food consumption, after Thanksgiving Day? In addition, the Super Bowl has frequently been the most-watched American television broadcast of the year.
If you are a football fan...read on! Here’s a bit about the history of our favorite sports day of the year and about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
According to Wikipedia, the NFL officially formed in 1920, but the Super Bowl didn’t happen until more than 40 years later. In 1960, a group of businessmen who wanted to own football franchises—but were denied by the NFL—decided to launch an alternative league, known as the American Football League (AFL). For several years, the NFL and AFL were gridiron rivals, competing for fans, players and support. Then, in 1966, owners negotiated an agreement to merge the leagues by 1970.
The first Super Bowl took place on January 15, 1967, and included the NFL’s Green Bay Packers against the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. The game was held at the Los Angeles Coliseum, and even though ticket prices averaged just $12, it was the only Super Bowl that didn’t sell out. (We were offered tickets to this 2021 game for only $10,000 each!) That first Super Bowl game aired on two different networks and drew in an audience of more than 61,000 fans. The Packers outperformed the Chiefs, winning 35-10. The next year, the Packers decisively won again in Super Bowl II, defeating the Oakland Raiders 33-14. Many began to question whether the AFL teams could hold their own in the NFL. But the next year, the AFL’s New York Jets, led by quarterback Joe Namath, defeated the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Super Bowl IV was the last game played between the two leagues, and the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings, 23-7. The popularity of the event continued to grow after the leagues integrated. With the rise of cable TV, the Internet, and other entertainment options, the country rarely pauses to watch or follow the same event, except in cases of national tragedy. But the Super Bowl is an exception.
According to Britannica, The Buccaneers were established in 1976, and they posted a lousy 0–14 record in their initial season in the NFL. After playing their first season in the American Football Conference (AFC), the Bucs moved to their current conference in 1977. The team’s losing ways continued in the NFC, as Tampa Bay did not record the first win in franchise history until December 1977, and its 26-game losing streak remains an NFL record. These early Buccaneer teams were notable for the presence of future Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon and for their charismatic head coach John McKay, whose many quips about the team’s failures endeared him to football fans nationwide.
Led by quarterback Doug Williams, in 1979 the Bucs, to the surprise of most of us, won 10 games and qualified for the postseason, where they advanced to the conference championship game but lost to the Los Angeles Rams. Tampa Bay went on to playoff berths in both 1981 and 1982, before falling back to the bottom of the conference standings with a 2–14 record in 1983. The 1983 campaign began a dubious streak of 12 consecutive seasons that saw the Buccaneers post double-digit loss totals.
We began to turn it around in the late 1990's as head coach Tony Dungy built one of the best defenses in the NFL, featuring tackle Warren Sapp, linebacker Derrick Brooks, and defensive backs John Lynch and Ronde Barber. The Bucs made four postseason appearances in the five seasons between 1997 and 2001, but the offensively limited team scored fewer than 10 points in each of its four playoff losses in that span, and Dungy was fired in early 2002 despite his regular-season success
Then the Buccaneers hired head coach Jon Gruden to improve the team’s offense, but it was our top-ranked defense in the league that helped the team post a 12–4 record in 2002 and upset the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC championship game the following January. At Super Bowl XXXVII the Bucs soundly defeated the Oakland Raiders 48–21 to capture their first championship.
The Bucs missed out on the postseason the following two years but returned to the playoffs after the 2005 and 2007 seasons, both of which ended in opening-round losses at home. A late-season collapse by the team in 2008—the Bucs lost four consecutive games to close out the season which led to the firing of Gruden and a massive coaching, management, and roster turnover in an attempt to rebuild the franchise from the ground up.
Although the Bucs won 10 games in 2010 (but missed out on the playoffs), that rebuilding effort ultimately proved unsuccessful. The team followed this with a surprise hire of college coach Greg Schiano, who was fired at the end of the 2013 season. The Buccaneers rebuilt around young quarterback Jameis Winston, and the team posted its first winning record in six seasons in 2016 (9–7). However, that revival was short-lived, and the team posted consecutive 5–11 records in 2017 and 2018.
The Buccaneers shocked the football world in the 2020 off-season when the team signed old man quarterback Tom Brady in free agency, ending his 20-year career with the New England Patriots. Brady immediately showed that the Bucs’ talented roster was simply missing solid quarterback play, as Tampa Bay won 11 games to earn a playoff berth. In the postseason the team ran off three straight road victories to advance to the second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. The Bucs SOUNDLY defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl to win their second championship!
We hope next season brings back our tailgate parties and many more wins...and who knows? Maybe another Super Bowl win! GO BUCS!