February 5, 2021
A few years ago, I took a cruise to Cuba. My hope was to leave from Tampa, just like the Rough Riders and Missourian John J. Pershing did in the Spanish-American War. Also, like them, my first port of call would be Santiago De Cuba. However, the ship wound up leaving from Miami and never made it to Santiago due to hurricane damage to the harbor. That was the closest I ever came to personally visiting Tampa. However, there have been many times that my Kansas City sports teams have been connected to the teams in Tampa.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have only played against each other 13 times. But if things remained as they were during the Bucs first season, the Chiefs and Bucs might have played up to 88 times, rather than 13. That’s because Tampa Bay’s inaugural season was in the AFC West—same as Kansas City. As divisional foes, Kansas City and Tampa Bay did play against each other that first season with KC taking the win (as did every other Tampa Bay foe that year). Had Tampa Bay stayed in the AFC West, it might have made for a great rivalry, but we wouldn’t be facing each other in the Super Bowl.
There were a handful of weather-affected NFL games that became known by their nicknames, such as the “Ice Bowl” or the “Fog Bowl.” Kansas City and Tampa Bay played in the classic NFL game known as the “Monsoon Game” in 1979. I watched it and it’s exactly as it sounds—a game played during a monsoon! Tampa Bay won on their way to winning the NFC Central title, which was the team’s first playoff appearance.
Through much of the early 1980s, Tampa Bay and Kansas City had challenges with being competitive. That changed in the late 1980s for Kansas City, due in part to a trade with Tampa Bay. Kansas City acquired journeyman quarterback Steve DeBerg from Tampa Bay. His veteran leadership and mastery of the play-action pass helped end Kansas City’s playoff and competitive drought at the start of Kansas City Coach Marty Schottenheimer’s era.
Kansas City returned to competitiveness, had a smothering defense, but still had trouble scoring points. In 1993, a change in offensive philosophy prompted the Chiefs to acquire Joe Montana, the best quarterback of his generation, in a trade from the San Francisco 49ers. The first game of the Montana era and Kansas City’s version of the “West Coast Offense” took place in Tampa Bay. Our new quarterback would take us back to the AFC Championship for the first time since 1969, although the home team Buffalo Bills ended the Chiefs’ post-season march that year.
But not all connections between Kansas City and Tampa Bay sports involve football. A trade with Tampa Bay extinguished Kansas City’s playoff drought in baseball too. Prior to the 2013 season, the Rays traded James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals. Like the DeBerg trade, Shields brought veteran leadership to a young team. Davis became the most effective closer in baseball for several years. Ultimately, this trade helped the Kansas City Royals find their way to the World Series in 2014—their first time in 29 years.
Kansas City and Tampa Bay sports are linked in many ways. Regardless of the outcome on Super Bowl Sunday, Kansas City and Tampa Bay will be forever linked in a meaningful way.
Steven V. Potter
MCPL Director and CEO
Add new comment
Read Similar Blogs: