Here’s the good news about those recently installed, “Welcome to Tampa, City of Champions” signs. The red, white and blue numbers look pretty spiffy. And why not capitalize on a niche that identifies the city as a winner? Of a Super Bowl, a Stanley Cup and even an Arena Bowl. They are a notable upgrade on the dated “All American City” signs they replaced.
The bad news is the precarious shelf life of such signage. It’s inevitable when your identity is forged from the sports arena, notorious for its “what-have-you-done-lately?” ethic.
In the case of the Lightning, the answer is nothing – just waiting and wishing for the confoundingly stupid lockout to end. Fortunately, however, a reservoir of good will seems to await the defending Cup champions.
As for the Bucs, Super Bowl XXXVII now seems a Roman-numeraled eon ago. It’s what happens when your post-championship seasons are disappointing and disheartening. For now, “City of Champions”/Super Bowl seems to mock the reality of 7-9 and 5-11 the past two years, records more reminiscent of Leeman Bennett’s tenure than Jon Gruden’s.
But the NFL is a league of cycles and parity. The Bucs will be back. And when they return, those signs will be chest-thumpingly current again. Unless, of course, it takes too long and Tampa is re-named an “All-American City.”