NEW ORLEANS — Longtime Bucs fan Devon Garnett wanted to be in New Orleans for the season opener against the Saints even though he couldn’t attend the game.
The New Tampa resident and season ticket holder wanted to be able to say he saw Tom Brady’s first game as a Buc. He had planned out a trip to New Orleans months ago amid the coronavirus pandemic, and even when it was announced that Sunday’s game would be closed to all fans, he decided he still wanted to go just to say he could be close to the action.
“That’s the crazy thing because that was my whole thought process, that I was gonna come here because I want to be able to see Brady’s first snap as a Buccaneer because I feel like this is a big turning point in our history,” Garnett said.
So Garnett, 26, and four friends traveled to New Orleans and rented an Airbnb five minutes from Bourbon Street. With New Orleans still in Phase 2 of reopening, bars are closed, so the scene is far from normal. Instead, friends decided to grill at their place and watch the game.
Garnett, who grew up in Clearwater and is a fan of all Tampa Bay-area teams, said he goes to at least one Bucs road game a year — he went to three last season — and drove 15 hours to watch the Rays play in Game 5 of the ALDS last year in Houston.
“I go hard for my teams,” he said. “I’ve been going to (Bucs) games since I was 4 or 5 years old. I mean, this is my livelihood.”
While walking around the city on Saturday, Garnett came across the Bucs team bus, so even though he wasn’t able to attend Brady’s first game, he was fine with the notion that he was close to the GOAT.
“Just by chance, I was on one of the streets and I saw the whole bus roll, like all the buses rolling,” Garnett said. “I was right there so I captured a video of it and put it on Twitter. And I was just thinking in my head like, ‘Dang that’s crazy, like Tom Brady is literally like on that bus like probably a couple feet from me.’”
He has been a Bucs season ticket holder for three years and deferred his plan until next season, but hopes to still attend a couple of home games this year if fans are allowed in the stands at Raymond James. There will be no fans admitted for at least the first two Bucs home games.
“They’re doing it for the safety of us,” Garnett said. “I get it. I wish I could be there, but we’ll just have to wait. .. I’ll probably go to one or two games because the prices are probably going to be astronomical.”