TAMPA, Fla. -- At the moment, the Tampa Bay region is caught up in hockey.
That’s understandable because the Lightning are in the Stanley Cup Finals. Steven Stamkos is the most popular athlete around. But that’s only a temporary situation.
At heart, Tampa Bay is a football region. Through good and bad (and there has been a lot of bad), the area has supported the Buccaneers. But now there is a chance for the Bucs to be more popular than ever.
That’s because Jameis Winston has come to town. The door is wide open for Winston to become the biggest superstar Tampa Bay has ever seen.
Lee Roy Selmon was beloved. So were Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Mike Alstott. The same currently goes for Gerald McCoy. And you have to at least include Evan Longoria from baseball’s Rays in the conversation.
But Winston has a chance to be far bigger than any of those guys. That’s because he’s the quarterback. That’s the most glamorous position in the most glamorous sport.
The Bucs never have truly had a superstar at quarterback. Doug Williams came close, but his time in Tampa Bay didn’t last long enough. Vinny Testaverde and Trent Dilfer were drafted to be franchise quarterbacks, but they didn’t have a lot of success with the Bucs.
Now, along comes Winston. He’s full of talent and personality. This region is just waiting for a superstar it can love.
Winston can be that guy. He doesn’t even have to force the issue by getting heavily involved in the community (although that wouldn’t hurt). He just has to go out and play like a franchise quarterback.
If he does, he’ll be the biggest thing Tampa Bay ever has seen.