There have been days, over the past eight years, when the luster has faded on the memory of the Bucs' Super Bowl XXXVII victory — like any day during the 3-13 season in 2009, for example. Oof.
But the Vince Lombardi Trophy won by the Bucs that day hasn't faded a bit.
Inspect it for yourself at the Tampa Bay History Center, which on Saturday opens a new exhibit paying tribute to professional athletics in the area, Sports in Tampa Bay: Through the Eyes of Lamar Sparkman.
Sparkman, a longtime Tampa artist and cartoonist for the Tampa Times and Tampa Tribune, was best known as the man who designed Bucco Bruce, the winking, knife-biting original logo of the Creamsicle Buccaneers. When he died in early 2010, his family donated much of his artwork, supplies and memorabilia to the History Center. It fills a significant portion of the exhibit, and takes you back to decades when illustrations were commonplace on the sports landscape, from Sporting News covers to Donruss Diamond Kings. Buccaneer icons like Lee Roy Selmon, of course, are well represented here.
The History Center complements Sparkman's artwork with a modest selection of sports memorabilia from the past 30 years, from Tampa's four Super Bowls to soccer's Rowdies and the USFL's Bandits. You can also check out World Series artifacts from two Tampa legends — a ring from Tino Martinez, and a trophy from Lou Piniella.
But you can't cover Sports in Tampa Bay without covering the unprecedented run of success enjoyed by local teams in the past decade. For the first time, thanks to this exhibit, you can stand in the same room with the Bucs' Super Bowl trophy, the Rays' American League Championship trophy and the Lightning's Stanley Cup.
Well, sort of.
The real Stanley Cup resides at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Each winning team receives a mini replica, which is what's on display here, along with replicas of trophies won by individual Lightning players over the years — Martin St. Louis's Hart and Lady Byng trophies, Brad Richards' Conn Smythe trophy, the Maurice "Rocket" Richard trophies won by Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos. (Again, all are mini replicas, not the real things — but they're as real as you can get outside Toronto.)