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Super Bowl XXXVII

Tampa references hit crestfallen ears

By BRYAN GILMER, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 28, 2003


After the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl Sunday, team owner Malcolm Glazer praised the "Tampa Buccaneers," and Coach Jon Gruden clutched the Vince Lombardi Trophy and said he was "so happy for the city of Tampa."

In St. Petersburg, the owner of Beef O'Brady's on 37th Avenue N listened dumbfounded, surrounded by St. Petersburg residents delirious with the victory. Some shouted at the television, "Tampa Bay!"

"Oh my goodness, I felt a little cheated," Aaron Carricato said. "The second after I heard that, I walked outside the front of the restaurant and heard hundreds of horns for the next two hours."

Glazer did seem to realize his error quickly and ended his speech thanking all the team's fans and exulting "Tampa Bay! Tampa Bay! Tampa Bay!" But sportscasters Al Michaels and John Madden were serial abbreviators throughout the telecast.

Certainly, Hillsborough County residents are the ones who tax themselves to support Raymond James Stadium -- in Tampa. But the team named itself after a body of water to reach a metro area big enough to support a pro football team, one with three mid-sized cities and dozens of small towns: Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater.

Of course, no one expected Glazer or Gruden to give a shout-out to Gulfport, Dunedin or Dade City on international TV. But people outside Tampa wanted to remind the team Monday that money and fans -- and much love -- flow to the team over the Howard Frankland Bridge, the Courtney Campbell Causeway and the Suncoast Parkway.

"For those of us who are sensitive to those kinds of issues, it leaves a hollow feeling," Pinellas County Commissioner Bob Stewart said. "I've had four season tickets, and I consider myself to be a loyal fan, and for all the players, and the owner, for pity's sake, saying "Tampa has the greatest fans,' well excuse me, don't forget us."

Clearwater City Manager Bill Horne said Clearwater is as pewter-and-red as any bay area city.

"I think the extent to which (residents) share in the aura is apparent by the extent to which they identify with the team and hold season tickets and display the colors, and the insignia," he said.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker is normally touchy about Tampa's stealing the limelight, but Monday he was forgiving. He gave Gov. Jeb Bush a Buccaneers championship T-shirt Monday at an unrelated news conference in Tallahassee.

But Baker said that St. Petersburg may hog the glory if St. Petersburg's major league baseball team ever wins any sort of glory.

"When the Rays go to the World Series, that'll be our day to shine," he said. "For now, we're content to celebrate with everybody else."

-- Times staff writer Lisa Greene contributed to this report.

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