The clock hits zero as the echoes of over 20,000 screaming fans reverberate throughout Raymond James Stadium on the evening of February 7, 2021. The infamous cannons finally fire from the South End Zone Pirate Ship as confetti is shot out of new additions to the arsenal especially for Super Bowl LV between the visiting Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs have done it. They've not only reached the pinnacle of the NFL world, capturing the franchise's second Lombardi Trophy in its history, but they've done it in a way no one else has before: on their home field.
Sometimes, the best things in life come to those who wait.
As the Bucs' bench empties with players and coaches pouring out onto the field and into the throes of celebration, from the home tunnel comes a petite brunette, blue eyes sparkling as they search for their same-colored counterparts in the sea of red and pewter. They find them as Christine Arians is ushered to her husband, Head Coach Bruce Arians, and the two of them embrace, joined by their two children, Jake and Kristi, in a moment that the four of them will remember for their rest of their lives.
A moment 50 years in the making.
Christine Allen, like her future husband, grew up as one of five children in a 'good, Catholic family' in York, Pennsylvania. The daughter of a former collegiate football player, she picked up interest in the game from a very early age.
"As one of five kids, if you wanted Dad's attention, you sat and watched football with him on Saturdays and Sundays," Christine explained. "Saturday, we watched Notre Dame and Sundays we watched the then-Baltimore Colts. Johnny Unitas was my hero.
"So, when I started dating this guy who played football, I could already understand it and liked it. That turned out to be a big deal."
She didn't know how big of a deal then, of course. But that's because the awkward-looking freshman with sandy-colored hair in homeroom, who had just undergone a six-inch growth spurt the summer before, had aspirations of becoming a physical therapist. Not a football coach.
By the time sophomore year rolled around, 'Brucie,' as Chris now so affectionately calls him, had filled out a little bit more as he helped tutor her in French and the pair became closer.
"I'll just sort of give you a hint," said Chris. "I didn't need help with my French."