So, there it was, the early 1990s and I was growing discontent with my favorite football team. I discovered football during the season that lead to Super Bowl XV and the Oakland Raiders personified what I liked about the sport. It was a violent chess game between big, angry men and no one was bigger and badder than the Raiders. Ray Guy would inspire me to become a punter. I did for one game in high school and then quit. I couldn't deal with the jocks or the coach. Later, I would fall in love with a player. Marcus Allen was the man and I became more a fan of Allen than I was of the Raiders. Then they started to cut him out of their game plan and say he was over the hill. Allen signed with Kansas City in 1993, but although I followed the Chiefs just to keep up with me first and only sports hero, I just couldn't commit to them as a fan. They were a hated division rival of my old team. Even though I was distancing myself from the Raiders, this was too big of a leap. So, I began looking at other teams, wanting someone to root for that didn't leave a bad taste in my mouth.
Always considering myself an underdog, I sought out the underdogs. The New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers caught my fancy. I started following them both, but my devotion went to the Buccaneers. Anyone that would play in uniforms that looked like Creamsicles was brave enough and weird enough to earn my love. A new day was born.
It was a frustrating love, and it started to seem that I had chosen a difficult path. This was a team that would never win a championship. This was a team that fell down on its face constantly. They couldn't even play if the weather got a little bit chilly.
Eventually, they changed those orange and white uniforms. Although there was something I liked about them, they just weren't football uniforms. Well, unless maybe you are a college football team from Tennessee or something. They got these red and pewter uniforms. Who ever heard of pewter as a color for a uniform? They were still weird. They had also developed a mean streak and an attitude. They were starting to look like the old Raiders I once loved.
There were other weird things that happened along the way as well. I forgave weird Al Davis, who is so much like me that it makes me uncomfortable, and the Raiders for the whole Marcus Allen thing. I was back behind them, even though they had taken to playing like the Buccaneers of old. I would root for them again. Still, they hadn't looked good since Super Bowl XVIII. That was a good one. I was a freshman in a dormitory suite with eleven other guys and there was only one other freshman in the mix. Craig was a big fan of the Washington Redskins and he didn't leave his room for two days after my Raiders destroyed his honorable Hogs.
So, there it was, a new millennium and the guy who wears pirate shirts was back to rooting full time for his pirate teams. The Raiders were starting to look good again and the Buccaneers looked like they might one day end their hapless, bad luck ways. It was safe to root for them both. They were in different conferences and rarely met each other. I had moved to Orlando, in the midst of Bucs country and I could finally root for the Buccaneers without a bunch of glaring New Englanders calling me a nancy boy, claiming the New England Patriots would win a Super Bowl before my Buccaneers did. Hah! It didn't matter now. All was right with the world. I could enjoy the game. If one of my teams was down, the other would be up.
My team will be the winner of Super Bowl XXXVII. I know that before the first kick-off. And I need the Super Bowl. It is the only way I remember how old I am in Roman Numerals. The wonderfully distracting world of sports hasn't been this good to me since the 1986 World Series. And I need this distraction. And I need a beer.