Prior to kick-off of Sunday's game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles, Marie Miller and her husband tailgated in the shadow of Raymond James Stadium.
A little shy of 10 years ago the couple was inside Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego for Super Bowl XXXVII between the Bucs and the Oakland Raiders.
"I was thinking about it as I was getting ready this morning," Marie Miller recalled. "It was a dream."
At the time the Raiders were expected to be crowned Super Bowl champs, but that day Tampa Bay had other plans. The Bucs pummeled Oakland, 48-21.
After the game Tampa Bay Head Coach Jon Gruden hoisted the Lombardi Trophy high above his head as his players looked on with approval.
"When we won everyone was standing up and crying," Miller added.
Sunday afternoon the Bucs played the team they beat in the NFC championship to reach Super Bowl XXXVII, the Philadelphia Eagles. At halftime Tampa Bay enthusiasts stood up once again to honor the team that brought home the franchise's first Super Bowl trophy.
The cheers were loud as the former Bucs came running out of the tunnel to the field. Their hearts were pounding just as they were nearly a decade ago.
"It is a party," explained Sapp, describing Sunday's festivities. "All the boys back together [telling] the best stories. [It's a] special group of guys, special to be back."
Martin Gramatica was the kicker on the 2002 Bucs. Sunday's trip onto the turf at RJS brought back some old, familiar feelings.
"You want to play again," he said. "[It] brings back the memories real quick."
Since leaving the sidelines Gruden has become a fixture on ESPN's Monday Night Football telecasts. Fans greeted the former Buccaneer head coach warmly on Sunday.
"I still think about the days as the coach of the Buccaneers," Gruden said. "All the time and I still have a lot of respect and I'm a big fan."
As for the current Bucs, under first-year Head Coach Greg Schiano, the team continues to improve. Sunday's last-second 22-21 loss to the Eagles left Tampa Bay with a record of 6-7.
Despite the setback Gramatica feels like Schiano and his staff has done a good job this season.
"I think it's getting back to what Buc football used to be," he said. "It's [headed in] the right direction."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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