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Remembering the Bucs' Super Bowl victory parade, 14 years later

Jon Gruden leaves Lykes Gaslight Square Park in Tampa following a Super Bowl celebration on Jan. 28, 2003. [Times files]
Jon Gruden leaves Lykes Gaslight Square Park in Tampa following a Super Bowl celebration on Jan. 28, 2003. [Times files]
Published Jan. 29, 2017

Saturday marked the 14th anniversary of the Bucs' Super Bowl victory parade. Times staffers who were part of our coverage that day in 2003 recall the historic event from their perspectives:

Boyzell Hosey, assistant managing editor/photography

From a photo perspective, I remember our spectacular visual coverage. The photo on this link was shot by one of our looooong time photographers, Fraser Hale. He was an old-school photographer who would always keep his gear as pristine as the day he got it brand new. When I was the Tampa photo editor, Fraser's better days as a photographer were behind him, though he was a big-time player during our glory days of the 70s and 80s, and he was a treasure trove of community and institutional knowledge for me. When we were planning photo coverage of the Super Bowl parade, I knew we would be served best if I just posted him up somewhere with a good view and just let him pick off frames. And wow! He nailed many shots, but this one of Mike Alstott waving back at the Bucs fans was a show stopper! It ended up being the largest photo we've ever published border to border — freakin' 12 columns by Grand Canyon-like!

But that's just the parade. We've got a few more good stories on how we shot the actual Super Bowl — a la Jim Damaske nailing the Gruden charge victory photo which displayed in our lobby like a billboard and the shot I nailed of the side by side Bucs and Raiders fans displaying opposite emotions.

Greg Auman, Bucs beat reporter

One of our NFL writers left in December 2012, and I had the good fortune to step in and help out for the greatest month in Bucs history. I was a preps writer covering Pasco County high schools, but in that month, I covered a home Bucs win against the 49ers, a historic win in my hometown of Philadelphia against the Eagles and then spent a week in San Diego covering what remains the only Super Bowl the franchise has played in. Three weeks later, I became a father for the first time. A good run, as they say.

Rick Stroud, Bucs beat reporter

On the Wednesday before the game in San Diego, general manager Rich McKay sat at the team hotel and talked about how focused the Bucs were on winning the game, not merely happy with beating playoff nemesis Philadelphia and closing down Veterans Stadium.

"You don't want to be the losing team in all those highlights in the Sports Illustrated commercial when they're selling all those hats and t-shirts for the next three months,' McKay said.

The whole season could not have been more serendipitous for Jon Gruden, who had been traded from the Raiders by owner Al Davis for a bounty of draft picks and cash – two first rounders, two second rounders and $8-million.

On Thursday, Gruden took a turn as the scout team quarterback against the Bucs starting defense during a two minute drill. The former third string quarterback at Dayton made some ugly throws. But he imitated the tempo, cadence and audibles perfectly of Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon.

The Bucs intercepted Gannon five times in the Super Bowl. On the second interception by MVP Dexter Jackson, safety John Lynch recognized the route combination and yelled 'Sluggo Seam!' to Jackson. It was a play where Gannon pumped faked the slant to Jerry Rice and tried to hit Joey Porter in the seam.

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This was Gruden's Super Bowl. He had to jump over Raiders tight end Doug Jolly while running stride for stride with safety Dwight Smith, who returned two picks for touchdowns. And when it was over, Gruden stood at midfield with the confetti raining down and listened to his rock hero, Jon Bon Jovi sing "It's My Life.'

Anthony Perez, Sports copy desk editor

What I remember most is the pride my Ybor City-born dad, Louis, had in his hometown of celebrating the right way: no rioting, few to no arrests, no setting things on fire. He bragged as much about that as his beloved hometown team winning the Super Bowl.

Neither of us attended the parade, but we didn't have to. We had more than earned our battle scars with the Bucs, attending numerous games, starting with that first season in 1976 and sitting in the rock-hard bleachers of Tampa Stadium in blistering heat or torrential downpours. Back then, the words Super Bowl were not even spoken. It would've been silly when for the first 26 games, we simply were looking for a win. Just a win.

Now we had a Super Bowl. From 0-and-26 to the best in the NFL? Are you kidding me? He and I laughed at the absurdity, as I'm certain everyone did who grew up here. But mostly, we reveled in it, and the pride it brought to two Tampa natives.


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