TAMPA, Fla. (WLFA) – The game of a lifetime awaits the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Feb. 7 when they host the Kansas City Chiefs for the ultimate matchup in football.
The Bucs sealed the deal Sunday during an intense battle in the harsh winter temperatures of the frozen tundra known as Lambeau Field. The NFC Championship game brought with it a biting, single digit wind chill that day.
Fans admit they were worried as game day grew closer, knowing temperatures that brutal would beat up the bodies of Bucs players. Tampa fans say they feared for their Florida favorites, taking on the longtime team based in icy Green Bay where unbearably cold weather is the norm.
The Packers are known for their comfort level on the football field in winter’s below-freezing temperatures.
Back in Tampa, a picture-perfect forecast was predicted.
Tampa Bay was enjoying sunny skies where the air was a balmy 75 degrees. So, how would Bucs players fare on the field Sunday as they felt the wind down in their bones and saw their breath in the air walking into Lambeau Field.
Turns out, luck was also in the air as fortune smiled upon the fellas from Florida.
Bucs’ players seemed largely unaffected by the winter cold. Their resolve and focus remained in tact and on point. After all, they had only one job: Beat the Packers.
Tampa Bay was on fire that day, playing their hearts out as they unleashed their skillful brand of heat on their Wisconsin opponents. The game brought with it an enticing level of intensity and interest for Tampa fans 1,400 miles away, waiting to see the battle within the battle.
Brady versus Rodgers.
The two well-known, supremely talented quarterbacks locked eyes on the gridiron in Green Bay, and in that moment, their rivalry was reignited. They are both known for their leadership skills and athletic ability carried out in concert each time their feet hit the turf.
The veteran players, beloved by fans and coaches alike, executed intricate plays on Sunday during a heart-pounding performance in the unforgettable NFC showdown.
No doubt, on that day, Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers each saw in their minds’ eye something extraordinary, something they both wanted and were willing to put everything on the line to get it.
The mental image is one that is widely shared among players in the league, young and old alike.
In fact, the very sight of this iconic figure evokes profound passion from those who play the game.
The NFC championship game carried with it a beautiful promise. The winning team would savor the endlessly sought-after bragging rights. A victory also carried with it a remarkable journey every player wants, a goal they seek to achieve every time they walk into a stadium and feel the turf beneath their cleats.
A win on Sunday was their ticket to the Super Bowl.
And, for the Bucs, that meant making history where they would play at home, in Raymond James stadium, with faithful Tampa Bay fans. A win in Green Bay would bring with it the kind of joy players work for their entire careers.
That’s the stuff dreams are made of in football. A chance to be in the biggest, most iconic matchup in football.
The Buccaneers knew what they had to do, and they were ready, all the while intensely aware of what was waiting for them in the end.
Moments like these for NFL teams are often rare amid fierce competition during the regular season. Getting here sometimes takes a lifetime. For the Bucs, they knew deep down, it was their time to shine.
Tampa Bay fans describe it as a dream come true.
It was destiny.
Yes, Sunday night will go down in the history books, a game where the magic was all around them as they found glory on the gridiron.
For fans in Tampa, the epic win sparked a frenzy after they watched their team secure a Super Bowl bid. There was only one thing left to do – get the gear.
“You can’t be here and not rep the team,” said Bucs fan Randy Mutalka who watched the clock all day Monday. It couldn’t end soon enough. He had plans, the kind that give you goosebumps. A trip to Dick’s Sporting Goods was front and center in his playbook.
Super Bowl souvenir shopping.
His game plan after the big game turned out to be tricky. His shopping strategy was difficult to execute at first as he searched for Brady gear. It took two trips to two Tampa stores, nowhere near each other.
No worries, though.
This big time Brady fan says he’d drive any distance to get the gear showcasing a combined NFC championship victory with a Super Bowl trip.
Right now, business is booming at Dick’s Sporting Goods at Westshore Plaza. When the Bucs won Sunday in Green Bay, souvenir t-shirts were hot off the presses as merchandisers knew the mad dash would happen in a matter of minutes.
Boy, did it ever.
Bucs fever create a fan frenzy, and Dick’s sold out of Bucs gear overnight, according to managers. The store hours were extended that night, staying open late for the big rush.
The biggest seller so far is the t-shirt everyone wants, now the one some can’t get.
Randy says getting souvenir gear is all about preserving the memories of this epic moment. “Even though Gronk or Brady may not on the team six years down the road, it’s still the memories. Hey I got this, and I know why i got it,” Randy told 8 on your Side.
After the mad rush Sunday night, Monday morning rolled around with two shipments of covered Bucs gear arriving just in time.
Employees spend the morning restocking the empty shelves as crowds continued their shopping surge throughout the day. By day’s end, stock was sparse and nearly gone. Managements tells us more merchandise is arriving Tuesday morning to replenish the supply.
They know the fans want a piece of history to remember from a moment they’ll never forget.
Randy summed it up best.
“This is gonna be the year for everything,” he said with a smile. “It’s gonna be great.”