TAMPA, Fla. – Followers, lots of them of them not carrying masks, poured into downtown streets and packed bars and nightclubs across the metropolis to have a good time one other skilled sports activities title for Tampa Bay, which is constructing a popularity as a house of champions.
Los Angeles has reigning world champs in baseball’s Dodgers and basketball’s Lakers, nonetheless, it’s troublesome to high the collective success of this area’s Tremendous Bowl-winning Buccaneers, Stanley Cup champion Lightning and World Sequence runner-up Rays whereas enjoying by means of challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s exhausting sufficient to win a title in any sport, not to mention the identical metropolis with the ability to nab two and nearly get one other on the identical time,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper stated Monday.
Tremendous Bowl Sunday was a journey day for the Lightning, who flew to Nashville, the place they watched Tampa Bay’s 31-9 rout of the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs as a bunch at their crew lodge.
“Congrats@Buccaneers! Thanks for the birthday current,” captain Steven Stamkos, who turned 31, wrote on Twitter, the place he additionally posted a photograph of teammates posing in Bucs gear in entrance an enormous tv display screen displaying Tom Brady celebrating after the sport.
“You are feeling such as you’ve bought a stake within the recreation when it’s your private home crew. That was the cool half about watching the sport and watching all the blokes within the room cheer. It was a extremely cool feeling,” Cooper stated. “I do know we’re not a part of the NFL, however you are feeling part of it. So it was nice. Spectacular. What a displaying. It was enjoyable to observe.”
The Lightning made their total postseason run in NHL playoff bubbles arrange in Canada, hoisting the Stanley Cup for the second time in franchise historical past in September.
The next month, Main League Baseball’s Rays captured their second American League pennant in a bubble setting in California earlier than shedding to the Dodgers in six video games throughout a neutral-site World Sequence performed in Texas.
The Bucs’ first NFL title in 18 years was particularly candy as a result of they received three straight highway playoff video games to develop into the primary crew to play a Tremendous Bowl of their dwelling stadium.
Attendance was restricted to about 25,000 in 65,000-seat Raymond James Stadium as a result of COVID-19 protocols. That did not cease the group from celebrating the hometown crew’s look on soccer largest stage.
Many partied whereas defying a neighborhood order mandating masks even be worn outdoor throughout Tremendous Bowl week, and drawing sharp criticism from some public officers.
“The stress was on us. The Lightning received the Stanley Cup and the Rays went to the World Sequence. Sadly, they didn’t pull it off, however we had been nonetheless rooting for them. Hopefully they get an opportunity to return once more,” Bucs linebacker Lavonte David stated.
“It was our time now. We needed to step as much as the problem for the town. It was undoubtedly lengthy overdue. These guys had our backs all through the season, each the Tampa Bay Rays and the Tampa Bay Lightning. They had been rooting us on.”
A number of the Lightning gamers wore Bucs jerseys on the crew’s flight to Nashville, too.
Lightning ahead Tyler Johnson wore a No. 13 Mike Evans jersey on the crew flight.
“We attempt to watch the Tremendous Bowl yearly. That is most likely the primary the place everybody was rooting for a similar crew,” Johnson stated. “Usually we’ve got some rivalries and a few bets in opposition to each other. This one, all of us needed the Bucs to win.”
And the Bucs acknowledged that.
“It’s undoubtedly a household factor. All organizations stick collectively for this metropolis,” David stated. “We had been in a position to step as much as the plate and produce one dwelling for Tampa Bay.”
Cooper stated profitable sports activities groups, and particularly championship runs, carry communities collectively.
“It brings unity to your metropolis, and satisfaction,” the coach stated.
“It went from a sea of blue in September and slowly to a sea of crimson with a pleasant spot for the Rays in between,” Cooper added, referring of the dominant colours of the Lightning and Bucs. “It’s enjoyable to be a part of that.”
Extra AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
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