ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – The excitement in Tampa Bay for this Buccaneers team looking to win their first Super Bowl since the 2002 season.
However, not everyone in the Bay region moves for the Bucs in Sunday’s NFC championship game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Tampa Bay-born Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s family and friends will be looking for the green and gold.
“He had his Bucs jersey, he was wearing it everywhere, he was wearing a soccer ball,” said Marquez ‘father Marcellus Scantling. “We just always chose our hometown.”
“I grew up playing privateers,” said Valdes-Scantling. “I was a big fan, I’ve seen all of their games. From now on you are only one enemy in the way. “
Valdes-Scantling is the big-play wide receiver for the packers. He was the team’s second largest recipient with 690 yards and six touchdowns during the regular season.
He grew up in St. Petersburg, attended Lakewood High School and eventually played college football with USF.
“I didn’t actually make the soccer team my first year of school,” said Valdes-Scantling. “I was at a point where I didn’t want to play anymore.”
“When I first saw M Marquez, he was super small, super tiny,” said Lakewood head coach Cory Moore. “He was so small that we didn’t have shoulder pads or a helmet that would fit him.”
Moore recalls that Valdes-Scantling was only three feet over five feet.
“Then in his sophomore year, I look up to him like woah, woah,” said Moore when Valdes-Scantling turned nearly a foot that summer.
“I had to fight my way through real diversity and was able to overcome it,” said Valdes-Scantling. “I stayed with it and everything paid off for me.”
This is Valdes-Scantling’s third season in the NFL, and like last season, he’s one game away from the Super Bowl.
“Right now, the whole city is pushing for him to bring us home as Super Bowl champions,” said Moore.
Will Valdes-Scantling have family and friends from Tampa for Sunday game?
“No, I’ll start her in Tampa for the Super Bowl in two weeks.”