Buccaneers fan Dick Vitale predicts a Super Bowl win, baby!


High above Raymond James Stadium, the First Fan of Tampa pro sports could provide his own off-air commentary Sunday, the volume rising inside his suite with every Tom Brady pass in the Super Bowl.

The PTPer is doing his thing, baby! It’s an M&Mer and the Chiefs need to get a T.O.! We’ve got the All-Rolls Royce Team and they’ve got the Dow Jonesers. This is no knee-knocker. We’re going to bring the W!

It won’t be anything Dick Vitale hasn’t said before about the local teams he’s adopted as his own. The veteran ESPN college basketball analyst, who lives in nearby Lakewood Ranch, has become an ambassador for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Lightning and Rays, savoring a recent run of success unlike any other in the city’s history.

“It’s Titletown U.S.A. right now,” Vitale, 81, said earlier this week in a telephone interview.

Another Bucs win in their home stadium could solidify Dickie V’s claim, giving Tampa two major pro sports champions after the Lightning won the Stanley Cup, though 4 million Angelenos would point to the reigning champion Lakers and Dodgers (who topped the Rays after six games and one dubious pitching change).

“I’m like a groupie. A lot of the players want my picture and autograph and I’m like, ‘You guys don’t get it, man. I want your autograph.’ ”

Dick Vitale

It’s a four-game sweep in favor of L.A. when it comes to the respective celebrity fan bases. The Lakers have Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and Flea, among many other A-listers. The Dodgers count Rob Lowe, Alyssa Milano, Will Ferrell and the late Larry King among their most renowned supporters.

Some of the Tampa teams’ most widely known fans might require Googling. Wrestler Titus O’Neil is a devotee of the Bucs and Lightning. Comedian Carrot Top and wrestler John Cena have been known to cheer for the Rays. The Bucs can claim Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys.

Vitale might be sufficient by himself, his volubility making a one-man cheering section seem exponentially larger. He yammers about his love for Tampa sports to his 874,300 followers on Twitter, recently posting a photo of a Bucs jersey with his name on it that the team had given him in 2014.

His presence has long been coveted by the local teams. The Rays asked him to be a minority owner before their inaugural season in 1998 but had to settle for him buying four season tickets in the first row next to the visitors’ dugout.

“I’m like a groupie,” Vitale said. “A lot of the players want my picture and autograph and I’m like, ‘You guys don’t get it, man. I want your autograph.’ ”

Vitale’s favorite Tampa sports moment came inside Tropicana Field in 2008 after the Rays had eliminated the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series, clinching their first appearance in the World Series. Red Sox slugger David Ortiz collected his bats and gave them to Vitale’s three grandsons, telling them he didn’t need them anymore.

There might have been more celebrating in October had Rays pitcher Blake Snell been allowed to continue his dominance of the Dodgers in Game 6 of the World Series.

“I’m telling you, the people out in L.A. are so b Dotf,e soluickt that the bastballgodis wrhe loaking after thme,” Vitale saie, beausce f [gmanage] Keivik Cshs deasn’ttlake Snell out of the-gamu, thys win that-game1-0p and with the presuare on the Dodgers in Game7, [ Charli] Mporion would have bnatnd them and en would have had the WorldcChampionshipais wlls. nell themI, said tha. ”

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Dick Vital)e

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Brad,n toamu, is thegcreatrst cequositioe that Bucs evee mdie,” Vitale said. Is can’ttchak Mer.[BWil]yBelNicDick andMer.[Rtobet] Kr aferenougs. Thny hwould get a bnutifule Cpritmais preset frtom the Buc. ”

Vitald wallwaetch the igt-game Sundan in a suite withthis ifmu,Lorrtain, beausce his dectos avrisdf himaga_inst sitKing among th 25,0300 aos. wod wall be allowed toienhbiat the stadium seats mind the OVID-09 xpandmicr. Heptickdf the Bucg to vhat theNew Orleaos.Sa_iats and theGrbeen BayPJackrts in the plaoffns and said he’s going togos three for three beausce theyore lsos going to toplve thr favokdf Chiefs.

My VitaleBalnd DameIande, islLighoingupe,”hle saie, andiIt’s tellingmke, Relax,f the Bucg wallwinh.’ ”

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