The Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face off in the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 7. Despite Greater Pittston’s distance from Missouri and Florida, there are some local diehard fans of both teams.
Bill Goldsworthy and the Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Star described the opening of Arrowhead Stadium on Aug. 12, 1972 as “an event of such magnitude the game was secondary” and “stadium gawking was a more absorbing pastime than the events on the field.”
Among the 80,000 delirious fans, two teenaged cousins from West Pittston, clutching tickets compliments of future Hall of Fame defensive end Buck Buchanan, sat in lower end zone seats with the families of the Chiefs’ players.
Bill Goldsworthy, then just two months out of Wyoming Area High School, has been a Chief fan ever since. Goldsworthy, the former West Pittston mayor and retired Red Cross executive, was in Kansas City with his cousins Jimmy Shepard and the late Barry Finn, who was with Goldsworthy at Arrowhead.
“I was visiting relatives,” Goldsworthy said, “and Jack Rudnay, the Chiefs center at the time, lived down the street. I asked him if he had tickets for the game. He didn’t, but he invited us to practice at a college on Friday night.”
At the Friday practice, Rudnay introduced Goldsworthy, who had a cast on his arm after falling off a horse a few days earlier, and his cousins to some of the players.
“I remember meeting Hank Stram, Len Dawson, Buck Buchanan and Jan Stenerud. Buchanan was gigantic. Two of his relatives got in an accident on the way to the game and couldn’t use the tickets, so he gave them to us,” Goldsworthy recalled.
Goldsworthy and Finn got the tickets. Sheppard, who was younger, got a signed ball.
Laughing, Goldsworthy said, “I had the cast on my arm. Maybe that’s why they felt sorry for me.” Some players signed for him, but the autographs didn’t survive — they were on his cast. Though Goldsworthy never got back to Arrowhead, he did see the Chiefs twice over the years, once in New York and once in Pittsburgh.
When Goldsworthy adopted the Chiefs in 1972, they were coming down from a high. They had been in two of the first four Super Bowls, winning one in 1970. But after reaching the playoffs in 1971, they went 15 seasons before they got back to the playoffs in 1986. Between ’86 and last year, the franchise lost nine conference championship games, including one with Joe Montana at quarterback. But last year’s Super Bowl championship erased 50 years of bad memories.
Goldsworthy watched last season’s game at the Moose Club in West Pittston.
“Oh, I was ecstatic. I loved it. (Quarterback Patrick) Mahomes is amazing,” Goldsworthy said. “If he stays healthy, he’ll be one of the greatest ever. He’s so calm. He’s like a kid at the playground. It’s like he’s playing out on Philadelphia Ave. with Barry Stankus and me when we were kids. He laughs, he smiles, he’s always having a good time. Bring on Brady, we’re ready for him.”
Johnny Hindmarsh and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One Sunday back in the late 1980s, Johnny Hindmarsh was a mini football player with the Wyoming Junior Warriors. Both he and his brother Donald played mini and varsity at Wyoming Area.
“Football was big in our family,” he said. Even so, he didn’t have a favorite team. He followed the Cowboys and Steelers, because a lot of his friends did, but his heart wasn’t in Dallas or Pittsburgh. Then one Sunday when he was 10 or 11, he came home after playing in a mini football game and saw a Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Bucs game was on TV.
“Dallas was kicking their butts. I always liked underdogs. I started rooting for the Bucs and it just stuck. Now it’s a passion,” he said.
He’s seen Tampa Bay play live six times, once in the Vet in Philadelphia, four times in the Meadowlands in New Jersey, and in 2007 he saw them beat Atlanta during a three-day trip to Tampa. The highlight of his decades of Buc’s fanaticism was Super XXXVII, when Tampa Bay beat Oakland 48-21 in 2003 in San Diego.
“We won it with a first-year coach John Gruden. I was at great party at Mike Kelly’s house with a bunch of people,” he said. “We had a blast.”
Other than the 1983 Super Bowl, two other games that stand out are bad memories.
“Peyton Manning and the Colts beat us after we were up 21 with five minutes left,” he recalled.
The other was the infamous no catch by Bert Emanuel in a 11-6 loss to the St. Louis Rams in the 1999 NFC title game. With under a minute to play, Emanuel made a diving catch which was ruled incomplete on replay because the tip of the ball touched the ground. In the off season the NFL changed the rule and it became known as “The Burt Emanuel Rule.”
Hindmarsh said some of his favorite players over the years are fullback Mike Alstott, linebackers Derrick Brooks and Hardy Nickerson, and Warren Sapp. He said he wasn’t crazy about the trade for quarterback Tom Brady. “Given his age, I was a sceptic and still am,” he said. But right now he’s not focused on the past and he’s rooting for Brady.
This Sunday, Hindmarsh will be in his Buccaneers man cave in his home in Wyoming, watching the game with his family.
He’s worried about Mahomes and admits the KC offense seems unstoppable, but he’s confidant in the Bucs defense. He has two keys to winning: “Protect Brady and no mental mistakes.”