Super Fans Appear
The Tampa Tribune, published 2 December 2002

Dome-field advantage? Maybe not. When the Bucs faced the New Orleans Saints in Sunday night's critical NFC South matchup, the Louisiana Superdome setting seemed part-hostile, part- friendly.

Thousands of Tampa Bay fans made the trip, displaying red-and-pewter garb in the French Quarter on Saturday night, then supporting their team, mostly from the nosebleed sections of the third deck or the end zone. All around the Superdome, there were Bucs fans holding red placards: ``Big Easy Win!'' There were Chucky dolls, Sapp and Lynch jerseys, makeshift pirate outfits and Buccaneer banners.

The Bucs might be the NFC South's version of an excellent bowl attraction. They travel well. Saints wide receiver Joe Horn didn't seem bothered by the prospect of a strong Tampa Bay presence. ``To me, it doesn't matter who I have in the stands yelling or booing,'' Horn said before the game. ``When you have to make plays, it shouldn't matter how many fans are in the stadium. We have some great fans in New Orleans, but some of them decide not to buy tickets and just watch it at home. That's their own decision.''

In a different era, the old Tampa Stadium often was invaded by opposing fans, most notably the Cheeseheads from Green Bay. Bucs GM Rich McKay said the turnabout is gratifying. ``These are the obvious benefits of regional realignment,'' McKay said before the game. ``And I think the Saints are happy with it [tickets bought by Bucs fans] because they're selling tickets they might not have been able to sell. It becomes annoying for the home team and somewhat distracting. But from our standpoint, it's wonderful to see so many Bucs fans coming with us on the road. You notice them, no question about it.''