By Nathan Frandino
TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - To call Anne Copeland a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan would be an understatement.
The Tampa, Florida, native has been cheering for the home team ever since the Bucs joined the National Football League (NFL) as an expansion franchise in 1976.
"It's been a wild ride. We start out with 0 (wins) and 26 (losses) and now here we are in our second Super Bowl, which is the first one in our hometown, so it spans just about every emotion you can imagine," Copeland told Reuters on Saturday at her home in Tampa, where she has an entire room dedicated to her beloved Bucs.
From bobble heads to stuffed dolls to flags to signed helmets, there are few if any Bucs items missing in Copeland's shrine.
The retired educator, who taught special needs children for 41 years, has acquired the items from friends, family, colleagues, students and more.
Copeland’s wild ride of fandom has taken her to every NFL host city in the country, except Las Vegas, where the Raiders moved this past season after departing Oakland.
She reached that milestone in 2018 when she saw the Bucs play at M&T Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, against the Baltimore Ravens.
"The weather wasn't so great and we lost the game but it was still great," Copeland recalled, holding a photo from that day.
She traveled to San Diego, California, by herself - without a ticket or a place to stay - to watch the Bucs clinch their sole Super Bowl title in 2003.
Now she has a chance to see them win again.
Her son, using some money won in a 50-50 raffle at a game this season, bought two tickets to Sunday’s Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium, just 10 minutes down the road from their home.
They will be among a limited crowd of just 22,000 fans allowed inside the game, due to attendance limits the NFL imposed because of the pandemic.
"We're about to become title town ourselves," said Copeland. "It's just super exciting that they're back in the Super Bowl because you never know if that's going to be a once in a lifetime thing or if you'll get to experience it again."
(Reporting by Nathan Frandino in Tampa; Editing by David Gregorio)