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Some permanent reminders

Scores of fans getting tattoos to commemorate Bucs' best season.

By THOMAS C. TOBIN and KATHRYN WEXLER

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 23, 2003


TAMPA -- Christopher Shull was watching at a bar when Bucs receiver Joe Jurevicius caught "The Pass" and streaked past several Philadelphia defenders in Sunday's NFC Championship Game.

He was captivated by the moment and moved by the compelling backdrop of Jurevicius' prematurely born son, who is struggling in a bay area hospital. So moved, in fact, that Shull decided to mark the moment with a tattoo on his hip.

The emblem, a bit larger than a silver dollar, was applied at Artistic Armor in Town 'N Country. It features the Bucs flag with the skull-and-crossbones logo and Jurevicius' number, 83.

"He's just a great player," Shull said, explaining the decision to get a permanent reminder of the 71-yard reception that set up the team's first touchdown. "I said, 'If they win, I'm going to get one.' "

Shull, a 33-year-old flight attendant for Northwest Airlines, is one of scores of Bucs fans who have made the same decision, compelled by the wave of excitement over the team's first Super Bowl appearance.

Local tattoo artists say that once the Bucs made the playoffs, requests for Bucs tattoos soared. The demand is similar to the rush that occurs after other big events, including the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the death of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt.

Jesse Nesbitt, owner of Designs for Life Tattoos on Armenia Avenue in Tampa, said six or seven customers have come in for Bucs tattoos.

"This is usually the slow part of the season," Nesbitt said.

At Lou's Tattoos on Gulf Boulevard in Madeira Beach, John Ferry got a Bucs flag tattoo on his right calf to honor the team he has followed since moving here from Chicago in 1999.

A 51-year-old cab driver for St. Pete Taxi, Ferry said it was a prelude to a sleeve of tattoos he is planning for his right arm -- an American Indian theme with mountains, trees, a wolf and an eagle. Proprietor Lou DeBiase is designing the image and will apply it soon.

"This is my way of supporting them," said Ferry, who paid about $70 for the emblem. "I've been thinking about it for the last week."

DeBiase said several people came in last week, before the Philadelphia game, wanting Bucs tattoos. Most had other tattoos and most were men, although many women have asked for Bucs logos in the past, he said.

In the past couple of weeks, up to a dozen people have come to Custom Tattoos by Precision Ink on 34th Street N in St. Petersburg for Bucs tattoos, mostly flags.

But on Monday, the frenzy grew, according to the owner, who goes by the name Munchkin. He etched three Bucs tattoos into the arms of customers that day.

"I did a pirate lady holding a big Bucs flag," Munchkin said. "It was on a guy's forearm."

Some customers said the Bucs' playoff win was just the push they needed to honor the team.

One of Nesbitt's customers this week was Joel Monrial, 21, a landscaper from Gibsonton, who wanted a Bucs flag on his biceps measuring 3 by 2 inches.

"I was going to get it," he said, "but this just pushed me along."

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