The city of champions. Plenty of places have laid claim to this title in past years. Pittsburgh put it out there in 1979, when the Steelers won the Super Bowl and the Pirates captured the World Series. In the 1980s, after the Edmonton Eskimos won five straight CFL Grey Cup titles and the Edmonton Oilers earned five Stanley Cup titles in a seven-year span, the Northern Alberta metropolis also declared itself to be the home of the champions.
No city can boast what Tampa Bay is currently laying claim to, however. The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lighting won the Stanley Cup. The Tampa Bay Rays played in the World Series. And now the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will challenge the Kansas City Chiefs for Super Bowl supremacy. No American city has ever sent all of its major professional franchises to championship games in the same season.
The defending champion Chiefs are 3.5-point favorites in Super Bowl betting over the Buccaneers, but that fact of life is immaterial. What Tampa Bay has already accomplished is not only remarkable, it is unprecedented.
Certainly, Los Angeles is making its claim to city of champions after the Dodgers won the World Series over the Rays and the Los Angeles Lakers took the NBA Finals. However, that would gloss over the fact that the NHL Kings missed out on postseason play in a year when 24 of 31 teams qualified. In the NFL, the Chargers went 7-9 and fired head coach Anthony Lynn, and the Rams lost in the playoffs to the Green Bay Packers, who were then summarily ousted by the Buccaneers.
To add another layer to the Tampa Bay achievement list, due to COVID-19 restrictions on cross-border travel between Canada and the United States, the 2018-19 NBA champion Toronto Raptors are making Tampa Bay’s Amalie Arena their temporary home for the 2020-21 season.
During the summer of 2020, the Buccaneers rolled the dice that 43-year-old quarterback Tom Brady still had some game and signed him as a free agent after 21 years with the New England Patriots.
They were right. Brady led the Bucs to their first Super Bowl appearance since 2003, putting another layer of polish on his championship pedigree.
Brady will play in his 10th Super Bowl game, adding to the record he already held. He’s won six of them, also a record.
He’s just the second visiting quarterback to win an NFC Championship Game on the frozen tundra of Green Bay’s Lambeau Field, where visiting QBs are 2-5 all-time in title games.
“With Tom Brady, all things are possible,” Tampa Bay linebacker Devin White told Peter King of NBC Sports.
The other QB to win there was Eli Manning of the New York Giants in 2007. Manning and the Giants then stunned Brady and the unbeaten 18-0 Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl 42.
“I’m still trying to process everything,” Brady told King of his latest Super Bowl chance. “It’s pretty surreal.
“It’s been an interesting life for me, you know? I still get to do something I love to do and certainly don’t take anything for granted.”
For the first time in the 55-year history of the Super Bowl game, an NFL team has won the right to play the big game on their home field. Super Bowl 55 is slated for Sunday, Feb. 7th at Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium. It’s approximately a 30-minute journey by foot to the stadium from the Buccaneers’ practice facility.
Previously, the Minnesota Vikings came the closest to doing this. Minny lost the NFC Championship Game in 2017-18 to the Philadelphia Eagles. Philly went on to win Super Bowl 52 41-33 over Brady and the Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, home to the Vikings.
Oddly enough, the Bucs earned this home Super Bowl appearance by winning three straight road games during the NFL postseason. Tampa Bay is just the sixth team in Super Bowl history to get to the big game by winning three times away from home.
“We’re playing so good on the road I almost wish the next one was on the road too,” Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians told NBC Sports.
The Chiefs, who won 27-24 at Tampa Bay during the regular season, will be looking to become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since Brady and the Patriots in Super Bowls 38-39.
Tampa Bay is seeking to become the first NFL team to win a season-ending championship on their home field since the 1965 Packers.