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Start the countdown: We're Super again

By GARY SHELTON
Published May 26, 2005


Maybe the Patriots win yet another championship. Maybe Tony Dungy wins his first. Maybe Ricky Williams decides to quit at halftime.

The Super Bowl is coming back to Tampa Bay.

Feel free to begin the cheering at any time.

Maybe Michael Vick will be named MVP, and the trophy will read "Ron Mexico." Maybe Kellen Winslow will ride his motorcycle into the end zone. Maybe Donovan McNabb will lose his lunch, only this time, he'll lose it on Terrell Owens.

The best event in America is returning to town.

How can it not be cool to think about?

Tampa Bay won another Super Bowl on Wednesday afternoon. The area, not the team. By outpledging, outpromising and outpoliticking three other cities, Tampa Bay won the biggest event in North America for the fourth time. All it took was a few smiles, a hundred or so souvenir putters and a few million dollars.

Oh, and yes, it took the Glazers, who are so hot right now you wish you could talk them into picking Lotto numbers for you. Within the past two weeks, the Glazers have won the world's most famous soccer team and the world's most famous football game. Any day now, I expect Bryan to compete on American Idol.

There had been a sneaking suspicion the Glazers were the weak link to the Tampa Bay bid. You could hear whispers that, though they were earnest in their efforts, they lacked the diplomacy to land this game. If Tampa Bay had lost this bid, there would have been those who sprinted to place the blame at the feet of the Glazers. Gee, they would have sniffed, maybe Tampa Bay can land that year's FA Cup.

If defeat were going to bear their fingerprints, then, doesn't victory? You have to give the Glazers, old Mal United, credit for this one.

That, of course, and 68 degree days in January.

And those Arnold Palmer putters.

And all that money.

Maybe Joe Namath will guarantee something. Maybe Terry Bradshaw will spell something. Maybe someone will ask Doug Williams a stupid question.

Super Bowl XLIII is coming to town.

Locally, expect it to be pronounced Super Bowl XL-ai-yi-yi.

Oh, the politicians today will resume their talk of economic impact, and yes, for a tourist city, that's important. But the bulk of that money goes to hotel chains and restaurant owners, to taxi drivers and bartenders. It has little to do with the common fan.

Odds are, you probably will see Super Bowl 2009 in the same seat, lounge or living room, in which you watched Super Bowl 2005. Just because the game is here doesn't mean you have access to it. They don't put Super Bowl tickets in chocolate bars.

Still, there is a certain energy that fills a community during a big event. It doesn't matter how close you are to the stadium, you can feel the buzz that comes from the world watching.

Maybe you'll be in a restaurant with Donald Trump. Maybe you'll see Tom Cruise walking through the airport. Maybe you'll see Ben Affleck scalping tickets outside the stadium.

Of course, it would be great to have the Stanley Cup playoffs return to town because that would mean the Lightning was back in the series, and those who run hockey would be off the helium. It would be great to have the World Series, because it would mean the Rays had finally become winners and hell had frozen over.

As a floating event, however, nothing beats the Super Bowl. Well, maybe the Olympics, but when is the last time a Super Bowl left a city aching to pay its bills?

Maybe someone will turn into Marcus Allen. Maybe someone will turn into Scott Norwood. Maybe someone will turn into Trent Dilfer.

I know this. If I were an NFL owner, I would have voted for Tampa Bay, and it has nothing to do with civic pride.

Miami? Come on. Miami has the '07 Super Bowl. How can you promise it another one without seeing how it does then? That's like making a third date before you see how the second one comes off.

Houston? The Super Bowl was just in Houston. The town did okay. It wasn't so wonderful, however, that an owner would want to rush right back.

Atlanta? What? Are we to believe none of the NFL owners attended the '96 Olympics?

If I were an NFL owner, I would look at some of the sites in the recent past and immediate future: Houston, Jacksonville, Detroit, Arizona, New York, probably Dallas.

In other words, I would get my rear end to the beach while I had the chance.

Maybe Whitney Houston will wear stars and stripes. Maybe Britney Spears will wear a sock. Maybe Janet Jackson won't wear anything.

That's the great thing about the Super Bowl. No one knows.

You know who the favorite is to play in the 2009 Super Bowl? Everyone, that's who. Oh, you can pick three likely suspects for the '09 Series and three likely suspects for the '09 NBA title. Given that much time, however, any team has a shot at the Super Bowl. The Vikings could play the Bills, and someone would have to win. The Cardinals could play the Bengals. By then, Los Angeles could play San Antonio.

Who knows? Maybe even the Bucs have a chance.

There's a question for you. Will the Bucs be healed in '09? Who knows if Derrick Brooks or Ronde Barber will be around by then? Who knows what kind of mileage Cadillac Williams will be getting? Still, the only thing better than the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay would be Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay.

As it is, Tampa Bay will take whoever comes. Even Carolina. The game is that much fun.

Maybe Jerry Rice catches his last pass in the game. Maybe Keyshawn Johnson drops his last pass in Raymond James. Maybe Chris Simms plays for somebody.

The Super Bowl is coming back to town.

Who knows? Maybe they will sell T-shirts.