Chip Guessford, who has been a Bucs fan for most of his days in North Pole, Alaska, shows off his birthday-gift permanent tattoo
If trees weren't in the way, Chip Guessford could look out his window and see Santa Claus' house. So close to the distribution center – perhaps that explains Guessford's yearly Christmas haul.
Okay, the Santa Claus house near Guessford is, in fact, a famous gift shop. But he does live in – we kid you not – North Pole, Alaska, on the outskirts of Fairbanks. And, as a rabid Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan living in this far-flung, frozen corner of the United States, he has a standing order on his annual Christmas list: anything Buccaneer related is the perfect gift.
Thus, Guessford's Buc-decorated room, surely one of a kind here at the North Pole, is festooned with hats, flags, posters and other gifts along his favorite theme.
Yes, Santa has been kind. Guessford might stop by his house one of these days to thank him, if he's willing to brave the weather. It was negative-25 in North Pole, Alaska on Saturday, at the same time the short-sleeve wearing Bucs boarded a plane in Tampa bound for Cincinnati.
That's not wind chill. North Pole residents don't concern themselves too much with wind chill.
And, to be honest, most of them don't concern themselves much with the day-to-day fate of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Guessford, though, does enough Buc rooting to make up for the rest of the town, if not the state. That's why he has been chosen as the latest winner in 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 from South Beach to the North Pole).
Guessford's letter arrived at Buccaneer headquarters last week, along with the accompanying picture showing his latest team-related 'possession,' a permanent Buccaneer-logo tattoo on his arm. It is a graphic depiction of a fanaticism for Guessford that has been more than skin deep for this Alaskan since 1982.
That's the season the 10-year old Guessford went out for youth football and found himself on a team called the Buccaneers. Though the NFL version fell on extended hard times after '82, Guessford's Bucs were about to make it to the top.
"(We were) the North Pole Buccaneers," wrote Guessford in his contest entry. "We wore the bright orange Bucs jerseys, and for two years got pulverized by the bigger teams from Fairbanks. Then, in 1984, the North Pole Buccaneers dominated the entire year, going undefeated to win the championship."
That perfect season convinced Guessford that similar good times were ahead for the team in Tampa Bay, and he began a faithful following of the team that has continued to this day. Last Monday, as the Bucs pulled off a thrilling win at St. Louis and Guessford enjoyed a rare opportunity to see his favorite team on television, he was nearly beside himself with excitement. To him, they took another step that night towards fulfilling what he believes is the Bucs' destiny.
"Since the first days in '82, I adopted the Buccaneers as my team," he said, "and (I) have never wavered in my belief that they will come to dominate the NFL just like we did in North Pole."
You could say that's all Guessford really wants for Christmas.
To conclude his letter, the North Pole Buc rooter called himself 'the absolute most hardcore fan from the farthest away, coldest land' and contended that his lifelong passion from afar represents the 'true spirit of what a Bucs fan should be.'
Chip, we couldn't agree more. You are the Buccaneers.com Fan of the Week!
Following Fan of the Week tradition, we ran Guessford through our own 10 questions, posed to each week's winner. The results follow.
How long have you been a Buccaneers fan and what is your first memory of rooting for the team?
Guessford: "In 1982, I joined a youth football league and our team was the North Pole Buccaneers. Since I was 10 years old, in '82, I've been a Buccaneers fan, and then I started following them once I got into the football thing."
What is your most prized Buccaneers possession?
Guessford: "I'd have to say that would be the tattoo I got on my birthday this year. It's there forever. I did it out of loyalty. Some of my friends think I'm crazy."
Do you have any superstitions or rituals that you follow for every game?
Guessford: "Well, I don't get to see them very often. It's just kind of like praying. I've got my jersey and hat on every Sunday."
Do you have a Buccaneers-decorated room? Please describe.
Guessford: "I've got about 20 hats hung up and all sorts of little things – shot glasses, coffee mugs, flags, what-have-you?"
Who is your favorite Buccaneers player, current and all-time?
Guessford: "Oh, that's a killer. Warren Sapp is awesome. I love (Mike) Alstott. (John) Lynch is one of my favorites. They're all great. The current players will be my favorite players after they're gone."
If you were the Buccaneers general manager for a day, what move(s) would you make?
Guessford: "This season, I would say, look at your tapes of the defense from the last two seasons and follow what you see."
Describe the items you wear (including any face paint or other skin adornments) on game day?
Guessford: "As I said, I've got my hat and jersey, and I have my Bucs winter coat. I found it on the shopping channel."
How does your family feel about your Buccaneers obsession?
Guessford: "They know that I'm into it so much that, any time they see any Buccaneer stuff, they know they can get it for me. They like it."
Describe the Bucs' most memorable game since you began rooting for the team?
Guessford: "It's a tossup between two of them – the last Monday night against the Rams and the NFC Championship Game two seasons ago against the Rams."
Simply put, why are you a Buccaneers fan?
Guessford: "They were always the underdogs. I just always dug them. They are going to be the Super Bowl winners one year."