Hawaii's Brenden Salcedo (with his children) has a Bucs collection that spans the old and new logos and colors
Rockne Freitas, a tackle from Oregon State and an all-pro performer with the Detroit Lions, played one season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 1978, Freitas ended a fine NFL career by appearing in 13 games with the Bucs, starting two.
Tabbed as one of Hawaii's 50 Greatest Sports Figures by Sports Illustrated, Freitas was an OSU Hall of Famer and later a prominent administrator at the University of Hawaii. He was an NFL all-star in 1970 and '72. His very name – think Knute Rockne – invoked the history of football.
By contrast, Freitas did not have an enormous impact on the Buccaneers in his one season in Tampa during the franchise's fledgling years.
Then again, maybe he did. It depends on how you look at it, and how far you're willing to look.
Some time after his one season with the Buccaneers, Freitas presented his nephew, Brenden Salcedo, with a Buccaneers shirt. A lifelong passion was born.
Salcedo, born and raised in the 50th state, now has children of his own. He's grown, and so have the Buccaneers. The team has shed the colors and logo that Freitas wore in '78 and have been through six head coaches and one very long, unsuccessful period in the '80s and early '90s. Salcedo's love of the team has never wavered.
"I look at my collection that I have, like my autographed pictures and dream of playing football for the Bucs," wrote Salcedo. "I have video tapes of Buc highlights and the 'Ricky Bell Story' that are worn out from watching too much. I enjoy going through my football cards, polishing my frames and collections, going to the card stores and even putting on my jersey and helmet."
For that unwavering dedication, Brenden Salcedo has been selected as the most recent winner of the Buccaneers.com Fan of the Week contest.
Since early in the season, the Fan of the Week contest has been flushing out the most fanatic Buc boosters in the country, recognizing the depth of their passions and rewarding them with either a trip to a Tampa Bay practice (for local winners) or a team gift pack (for out-of-towners). Salcedo's selection falls, coincidentally, just one week after Chip Guessford from North Pole, Alaska was named Fan of the Week.
But this is no token nod to the country's far-flung paradise. Salcedo is as passionate as they come. Most Hawaiian households go weeks, months or years without the Buccaneers appearing on their television set. At the Salcedo home, a Buccaneer screening could happen at any moment. He has virtually every Buc game broadcast in Hawaii committed to videotape.
"Every time I'm around the house and there's nothing on TV, I pop the video on and watch all the games," said Salcedo. "Even if they lost the game, I still taped it, and I'll always remember it and watch it again."
Of course, a Bucs fan in Hawaii does have one ace in the hole over other displaced Tampa Bay rooters: the Pro Bowl, held annually in Honolulu, Salcedo's home. Salcedo has watched the Bucs' Pro Bowl contingent grow from just one player in 1993, the first year he was able to attend, to nine last season. Autograph opportunities have increased, of course, but so has the pure joy of being a Bucs fan in the midst of football's greatest collection of talent.
"When I met Warren Sapp," wrote Salcedo of his favorite current player, "I was that little kid with a big grin on my face."
Truth be known, Salcedo favors the Bucs' old logo and colors, mostly because he cherishes the history of the team from his uncle's era. "I would give anything to go back and meet the great Ricky Bell, Lee Roy Selmon, Jimmie Giles, Dewey Selmon, Charley Hannah, Hugh Green, Neal Colzie, Mark Cotney and Booker Reese."
This is not a fan caught in the past, however. Though hard to obtain, he collects new-logo Bucs merchandise whenever possible and dreams of the day when the Bucs' red-and-pewter helmet is held above a Super Bowl celebration. In fact, Salcedo hopes his best Buccaneer days are still ahead: a trip to Tampa to see the team in action, first-hand.
For now, he'll catch the team on television and radio when he can, increase his Buccaneer collection and root Sapp and teammates on to the playoffs. He'll also check the mailbox in the coming days for a shipment of Buc merchandise, courtesy of Buccaneers.com. He's Brenden Salcedo, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Fan of the Week.
As usual, we ran our Fan of the Week through the traditional 10 questions. The results follow:
How long have you been a Buccaneers fan and what is your first memory of rooting for the team?
Salcedo: "I've been there since '76 when they first came on. My first experience was when my uncle, Rockne Freitas, played for the team."
What is your most prized Buccaneers possession?
Salcedo: "That would have to be my Hardy Nickerson autograph. It was when he first came in 1993, he was the only Tampa Bay player that year. That was a highlight for me, because that was the first time I got to go to the Pro Bowl. I had been working the years before and had missed it, but I finally got to the stadium and I got his autograph. I'm keeping that for the rest of my life."
Do you have any superstitions or rituals that you follow for every game?
Salcedo: "Usually, I just keep my same uniform on. I have a Warren Sapp jersey that I keep on whenever they play. They're hardly on the tube anyway, so if I do get the game, I put it on, and I bring out my helmet."
Do you have a Buccaneers-decorated room? Please describe.
Salcedo: "In my mom's living room, I have all my Buccaneers autographed pictures on the wall. I have Lee Roy Selmon's autographs from the Special Olympics, plus I have Tampa Bay stuff in my bedroom."
Who is your favorite Buccaneers player, current and all-time?
Salcedo: "All-time, I've got to say Lee Roy Selmon. Currently, it's got to be Warren Sapp. He just brings out the defense in them. He picks up the team, it's so unreal. If he's there, the game is good."
If you were the Buccaneers general manager for a day, what move(s) would you make?
Salcedo: "I would just keep it the way they're running it right now. I think Tony Dungy is doing a wonderful job, and Rich McKay is doing a good job, too."
Describe the items you wear (including any face paint or other skin adornments) on game day?
Salcedo: "Just my football jersey. I've got a helmet. I have a Tampa Bay flag that we hang over a wall."
How does your family feel about your Buccaneers obsession?
Salcedo: "They think I'm nuts! My wife thinks I'm nuts, because whenever I get a chance to buy something about the Buccaneers, I've got to have it. It's unreal trying to find stuff out here. There are a lot of people that root for San Francisco, Minnesota, Green Bay, Detroit. The first time that I asked for Tampa Bay stuff, they looked at me and laughed. They said, 'Why Tampa Bay?' And I said, 'Why not?'" You watch, they're going to turn it around. Every year, I say this is the year. I still think this is going to be the year."
Describe the Bucs' most memorable game since you began rooting for the team?
Salcedo: "It has to be when the played San Francisco (in 1997). I don't like San Francisco anyway, because that's the team my father and brother root for. I think that was the best game I've ever seen."
Simply put, why are you a Buccaneers fan?
Salcedo: "I just love the team. I like the coaching staff and what they're doing right now. I'm just a diehard fan."