I had the very fortunate opportunity to speak with former Buccaneers running back Michael Pittman about Super Bowl XXXVII as we approach the 15th anniversary.
In part one of my interview with former Buccaneers running back Michael Pittman, we discussed his journey to Tampa from Arizona, his frustrating 2002, and preparing for the Super Bowl. Now, we dive into some of his memories from the game as well as the Buccaneers Ring of Honor.
What part of Super Bowl XXXVII – a certain play, a moment, maybe even just a conversation – that sticks out to you as your favorite memory of that day?
"Favorite memory of the day. Man, there’s so many of them. IT was probably when they brought out the championship hats. Me putting on the hat, they had like those newspapers – Buccaneers Win or Tampa Bay Champions – that’s probably the memory that sticks with me the most. Like I said, I got a lot of great memories of that game, but when you – when they start to bring out those hats and you start to feel like, ‘Wow, this is starting to feel like a reality right now.’ It was almost like a surreal moment, you know? Like, in that moment, I can’t believe it, because in that stadium – I grew up going to that stadium as a kid. I grew up in San Diego, watching Chargers games, Padres games, and now I’m going back to that stadium that I grew up hoping one day I’d be playing on and I won a Super Bowl there in front of my family and my hometown friends that I grew up with.Just the whole thing, man. It was just a great feeling and a great moment in my life and it almost didn’t feel real even when I woke up the next morning. But everything, everything was so great. So many great memories."
Fast-forwarding real quick to present day, what was your reaction when you heard the Buccaneers’ decision to induct the Super Bowl coach – the only head coach you ever knew in Tampa Bay – as well as the late Malcom Glazer into the Ring of Honor?
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"I think it’s awesome. I believe, of course, they both deserve to be up there. Coach Gruden, the only coach in Buccaneers history to bring a Super Bowl to Tampa. And I think, with Mr. Glazer – that him, his sons, Rich McKay – that’s the biggest reason we won a Super Bowl. They brought in Jon Gruden. And he was a great owner. I remember he used to come around before every single game – home and away – and shake everybody’s hand that was in the locker room.You know, he never did talk too much. He came around after the games that we won and lost and he would say a couple words, but he was always smiling. But he was a great owner. I know a lot of people miss him around there. I miss him. But definitely two great men that deserve to be in the Ring of Honor. Definitely."
Mr. Pittman, I’ll leave you with one final question. Outside of winning Super Bowl XXXVII, what was your favorite memory – whether it was on the field, in the locker room, a team dinner, anything – what is your favorite memory of that 2002 season?
"Man, favorite memory. Oh man. There’s so many great memories, it’s hard, because that game itself was a great memory. Maybe, I’d say flying home.On the way home – like I said, I got so many great memories but this one definitely stuck with me – our plane made a detour because we found out everybody was still at the stadium. The stadium was packed with the fans so they made a detour towards the stadium. So, as we went over the stadium the plane lowered and the pilot, he banked. Like, he made a sharp bank. So, the players, we were all on one side of the plane so we could see everybody in the stadium. So we flew over the stadium right after the Super Bowl championship at a low altitude so we could see everybody.Like I said, I got a lot of great memories because it was a great season, but everything besides the Super Bowl I could say flying home and seeing all the fans going crazy at the stadium. That was pretty cool."
There was a lot more to the conversation we had than just the Buccaneers Super Bowl season and his journey to that point. As many of you know from following him on Twitter or Facebook, Michael Pittman is a very proud father and has two sons entrenched in football. We took the time to talk about his sons playing the game that he succeeded in at the highest level and how he balances that coach/father role.
It was a pleasure speaking with Pittman about such great memories from his time in Tampa as well as – for myself – remembering a lot of these moments from my viewpoint when I was, at the time, a Junior in high school. Remembering seeing Pittman on the sidelines holding that newspaper cover that said “Bucs Win” on it. The hug between Gruden and Malcom Glazer. The game in general. It holds so many powerful memories for so many Bucs fans that it’s hard to imagine that its truly been fifteen years since that season.
Stay tuned for the final chapter in my conversation with Michael Pittman, discussing his sons Michael Jr. and Mycah and their journey in football.