ST. PETERSBURG – Super Bowl 50 saw the Denver Broncos defeat the Carolina Panthers while millions of fans tuned in across the U.S. If you weren’t one of the lucky 71, 088 in attendance at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., you probably gathered with family and friends for a festive get together enjoying one another while sharing stories that can’t be verified.
One such group is the “Sunday Soldiers.” Their loyalty is to neither the Carolina Panthers nor the Denver Broncos, it’s to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the hope is next year this time the Bucs will be at the pinnacle. For years, the Buccaneers have had an army of followers rooting and sideline coaching them through big screens and barbeque grills, and the Sunday Soldiers are no exception. They are a group of ordinary, hard working brothers who enjoy family, fun and football.
“It’s good getting together with the brothers of Sunday Soldiers,” said Termaine Burton, one of the weekly partners. “It’s a great fellowship. No arguing, fighting and all that other non-sense. We have good clean fun. I look forward to coming together.”
The Sunday Soldiers was unofficially founded in 1995 by Lonnie Banks with a group of friends standing in the front yard and all having the desire to watch professional football games. There was no name to the group but camaraderie was birthed. As the football seasons came and went, the group found themselves doing the same routine year after years. They would gather for football games, cook meat on the grill, laugh, reminisce and coach the Bucs through the television.
“Sometimes we will tailgate to the stadium and other times we meet at someone’s home, “said Todd Macon, one of the original crew. “We’re not an official organization that’s registered with the state, but we come together to do good. We take care of people who are in need and try to support other people who are doing good. In the off season, we still get together and take our families to the park, cook out and just have an enjoyable time.”
The likes of those who gather vary. For instance, Donnie Dillard works for the post office, Hayward Feaster drives trucks and Kelvin Feaster owns a lawn care service to name a few.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers weren’t in the Super Bowl this year so the Sunday Soldiers were relegated to watching the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos. But, who knows, with a little more coaching through the television airways, maybe the Sunday Soldiers can get them there in the years to come.
The Sunday Soldiers include: Henry White, David Bolden, Termaine “ Fuzzy” Burton, Matt Bolden, Al Crowell, Earl Seay, Al White, Mike Feaster, Donnie Dillard, Hayward Feaster, Todd Macon, Kelvin Feaster, Larry Anderson, Dwan Gibson, Aaron Johnson, Dwayne Robertson, Slim Wym, Calvin Sanders and founder, Lonnie Banks. More are added weekly.