TAMPA, Fla. - Wearing an orange Bucs jersey and flanked by his two children, Tom Griffing cheered as players drove into the private airport at TIA for their flight to Green Bay.
"The last time this happened, these guys weren't even around," he said.
There aren't any stories about Bucs quarterbacks - or anyone's quarterbacks - being as good, or as important, like Tom Brady.
Brady drove past about an hour before the two charter flights took off for the three-hour flight.
In the interest of COVID safety, Bucs players left their team bus at home and instead drove their own cars to two separate planes for the flight to participate in the Battle of the Bays.
Tampa Bay versus Green Bay.
"No matter what is going on up there, they have more support than they'll ever need right here," said Griffing.
Fan energy is bursting after COVID clamped down on how many could go to games and how much tailgating can be done. In the offseason, the team loaded up on high-profile free agents in hopes of making a run deep into the playoffs. In sports, promises aren't always kept, but this year, especially in Tampa Bay, they were.
"This means the world to us, I was here in 2002 when we did it, it is just one of the best experiences that we had," said Scott Kaminsky of Seminole Heights.
This year, not only is there the potential for a Super Bowl appearance, there is the potential of being the first host city to host its own team.
We will know soon enough if the story of this season will be one to pass down to the next generation.
"It would be phenomenal," said Bucs fan Christine Hartman. "My hopes are that we bring back another one of these and get another ring."
Win or lose, fans promised to be back out at the airport on Sunday night to welcome the team back.
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