Super Bowl in Tampa creates 'craziness' outside, inside

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Fans social distance as they watch a stage show before the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

TAMPA, Fla. – Wearing N95 masks and plastic face shields, John Goodman, his wife Alison McMillian and their two teenage sons navigated the crowded streets outside Raymond James Stadium and settled into their Super Bowl seats about three hours before kickoff Sunday.

They were the first ones in their section. They wanted no part of the “craziness” taking place most everywhere else.

“We were pretty nervous about it,” said Goodman, who made the trip with his family from Greensboro, North Carolina.

They arrived in Orlando on Friday and drove 90 minutes to Tampa the following day to “check out the scene” and grab dinner. They took one look at all the maskless people and decided to head back to Orlando.

So they weren’t surprised to see similar issues in and around the stadium Sunday. They were ready for it, though.

“Mom has us well protected,” Goodman said.

The NFL’s signature event — in which the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 for their first Lombardi Trophy in 18 years — looked nothing like any of the previous 54.

About 25,000 fans were allowed to attend the game, with 7,500 of those being vaccinated healthcare workers. Another 30,000 cardboard cutouts filled empty seats to create space and meet social distancing mandates.