CLEARWATER, Fla. - Friendships can blossom in the most unlikely of places. While the Bucs and Chiefs may not have left the Super Bowl as friends, you could say that two opposing fans did.
Now, a Tampa Bay brewery co-owner is on the search to find the real Chiefs fan behind the cardboard cutout seated next to him. He wants to spread a little goodwill during a difficult year and introduce this fellow football fan to Tampa Bay, in-person.
"Nothing has the ability to unite like sports, right?" said LJ Govoni, co-owner of Big Storm Brewing.
As Govoni, a long time Bucs season ticket holder, settled in at Super Bowl 55 - Section 232, Row DD, Seat 4 - he greeted his cardboard cutout neighbor, a Chiefs fan.
"As soon as I saw him, I said that dude's 'Frank'," Govoni said.
You could say the conversation was a bit "stiff" at first. But before long, they were old pals.
"Just a lot of one-sided trash talk," Govoni said. "Frank is a quiet man. He's very genteel."
He had fun with the flat fan, tweeting pictures, sharing chicken fingers and even enjoying a beer. No matter how many points the Bucs scored, "Frank" never lost his smile.
"I think he's a middle school math teacher," Govoni guessed, "might coach JV basketball in his hometown."
The joke has turned into a serious invitation. Govoni is inviting "Frank," wherever he is, to visit in-person. He'll buy the flight and, of course, the beer at Big Storm.
"In such a tough year that we've all had, Govoni said, "how cool would it be to bring a fan from an opposing team who couldn't come, to experience all the great things that Tampa Bay has to offer that he just didn't get to see."
Fan cutouts not only helped with social distancing among ticketed fans, they honored groups like healthcare workers and military heroes. Though they were divided into sections, without an official seating chart, the NFL likely can't help to identify "Frank."
"I've got dozens and dozens of people that, I feel like, are emotionally invested in finding this guy," Govoni said. "It's not 'help me find Frank,' it's 'help us find Frank'."
Govoni is now leaving it up to Twitter, pleading, 'Help me find Frank. This country needs unity."
"My phone is buzzing a little more and a little faster," Govoni said, describing the response. 'I'm serious. I really want to fly him down here, him and a guest. Come on down and let's hang out."
Govoni said he has a lot planned if they can find "Frank" and he accepts the invitation. He'll show him the beach, Raymond James Stadium, historic local restaurants, and maybe even take a trip to Clearwater Marine Aquarium to meet Winter the dolphin.