NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) – The National Football League will be choosing a “Fan of the Year” ahead of Super Bowl LV.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers nominee is a man who calls himself “Thee Buccaholic.”
8 On Your Side’s Gabrielle Shirley would like to introduce you to that man, Larry Gasparino.
The memorabilia Larry has collected over the years is mesmerizing, but he finds himself handing the MVP award to the man who started this journey with him, his father, Larry Gasparino Sr.
“My dad was the coolest, kindest, sweetest guy you would ever want to meet,” he said.
He took his father to his first NFL game at Raymond James Stadium when he was 84 years old.
“I had more fun watching him at the game than I did at the game,” he admitted, “because he was like a little kid in a candy store.”
They stuck to a routine.
“He was out waiting for me three hours before we were leaving for the game,” said Larry. “He would be standing on the street corner waiting for me. He was so excited to go and it did not matter if we were winning or losing. It was just so exciting for him.”
They also stuck to a uniform. Larry bought his father a jersey with his age on the back of it every year for his birthday.
“My dad did not collect things,” Larry explained, “but I used to call it that I was ‘Buccanizing’ him when I would get him things.”
When Larry lost his father about 11 years ago, he moved those Buccaneers belongings to his home and he has continued to add to that collection with the help of his family and his friends.
His wife, Paula, actually nominated him for this award.
“She calls me one day at work,” Larry recalled, “and she says, ‘Honey, you are not going to believe the surprise I have for you when you get home!’ and I am like, ‘What could it possibly be?'”
Paula shared the following announcement video with her husband.
“I was just floored! I never stop thinking about it,” said Larry. “It is like I want to yell out the window as I am driving down the road.”
He is likely driving home to “The Buccaneer Room.”
“It is not a collection of memorabilia I want to sell one day,” said Larry. “It is going to my grave with me.”
The winner of the NFL “Fan of the Year” award will receive two tickets to Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.
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