Bucs fan and former Tampa Bay resident and member of the BackStreet Boys Nick Carter will join the Pewter Report and WhattheBuc.net podcast on Thursday at 9 p.m. to talk about his love for his hometown football team. PewterReport.com publisher Scott Reynolds wrote this feature on Carter back in 2015, and here it is again for those that might have missed it.
Before he sold millions of records, made millions of dollars, toured the world and achieved international fame and notoriety as a member of the mega-successful Backstreet Boys band, Nick Carter was a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at a very early age.
Before the cool-kid clothes he wore as a teenager with the Backstreet Boys and the all-white wardrobe he and his bandmates rocked for the Grammy Award-nominated and best-selling Millennium album as a young man, Carter’s ensemble of choice consisted of creamsicle orange Bucs gear.
While music and dancing have been the passions of the 35-year old Carter for most of his life, and performing for fans is how he has earned his living, the former Tampa Bay area resident is also incredibly passionate about the Bucs. What some of his most ardent, loyal fans might not know is that Carter’s singing career with the Backstreet Boys may not have begun if not for the Buccaneers organization.
Carter, a long-time reader of PewterReport.com and a @PewterReport follower on Twitter, spoke to Scott Reynolds about his history with the Buccaneers and about some of his memories rooting for Tampa Bay.
“My history with the Bucs goes all the way back to Houlihan’s Stadium when I was about eight or nine,” Carter said. “I was in a dance troupe with Karl and DiMarco [studios]. Sandy Karl actually choreographed all of the cheerleaders’ halftime shows at Houlihan’s Stadium – or the Big Sombrero as it was called. I performed with the cheerleaders at halftime. I don’t know where in the hell that footage is, but I did it. I was out there dancing with them and that was my first big performance in an arena or stadium.”
The confidence that Carter gained in performing before tens of thousands of orange-clad Tampa Bay fans in halftime shows in the early 1990s as an eight- and nine-year old fueled his desire to make a career out of dancing and singing. It also gave birth to his love of Buccaneers football.
“I remember going out there for my first performance at halftime and I was petrified,” Carter said. “Everything was extra-large because I was so small. But I loved it. I remember seeing all of the Bucs players running by me [at the end of halftime] in their creamsicle uniforms, which I am huge fan of. Those [uniforms] always got hated on and I’m not sure why. Nobody complains about the orange [Tennessee] Volunteers uniforms. But that’s where my history started with the Bucs.”
Those trips to Tampa Stadium, which was renamed Houlihan’s Stadium in 1996, and his close encounters with the players made him switch his allegiance in terms of which team to root for.
“I had to choose between two teams, as my family was from upstate New York around Buffalo, so my whole family are Bills fans, even though we moved to Florida,” Carter said. “By default I was a four- or five-year old Bills fan, but a few years later I realized I could choose my own team and I became a Bucs fan. Then I saw the Bills lose four Super Bowls in a row and I knew [I made the right choice].”
Carter’s timing couldn’t have been better. Living in the Tampa Bay area during the late 1990s he saw the whole town come alive and catch “Buc Fever” as head coach Tony Dungy helped turn around a franchise that had gone winless for 13 straight years. By 1997, the Bucs had new red and pewter colors, new uniforms and had reached the postseason as a surprise playoff team thanks to a 5-0 record to start the season, beginning with a stunning, 13-6 upset on opening day against Steve Young, Jerry Rice and the San Francisco 49ers.
Fresh off a few years of international success with the Backstreet Boys, Carter, who was a teenager at the time, and his bandmates had just begun to make it big domestically with the release of the song “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” in 1997. Yet the single that propelled the Backstreet Boys to superstardom in America was “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” which was released a year later in 1998.
The accompanying video for “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” won the MTV Best Group Video of the Year award, and projected the Buccaneers into the national spotlight when Carter sported a red Hardy Nickerson Tampa Bay jersey in the intro to the video.
“The Bucs were right on the incline at that time and I was just so proud of them,” Carter said. “I had to rep them. We had just gotten our new colors and jerseys, and I had to represent my team and Tampa in the video. Hardy Nickerson was one of my favorite players at the time. It’s so cool that he’s back coaching the Bucs [linebackers] now. I love him being down there on Lovie Smith’s staff. It’s awesome.”
In addition to Nickerson, Carter has been a fan of so many great Tampa Bay players, and lists Mike Alstott and Derrick Brooks among his favorites. One of his most painful memories as a Bucs fan was seeing the team part ways with Brooks in 2009.
“I really liked a lot of Buccaneers, but Derrick Brooks was one of my favorites,” Carter said. “It was so hard for me to see him not come back and play for a couple more years. It broke my heart because he was so dedicated to that team. It was sad that it happened that way because Derrick Brooks is probably the greatest Buccaneer of all-time.”
Of course one of the best moments for any Bucs fan, including Carter, was seeing his long-suffering team rise up in 2002 and win Super Bowl XXXVII over the Oakland Raiders, 48-21. Despite having a break in his schedule and the wealth and the resources to make a trip to San Diego to see the Bucs in their first Super Bowl appearance, Carter refrained.
“I am very superstitious, and I know that it’s not about me, but I just felt that if I had gone to the Super Bowl for some reason I would have ruined it for the team [and they would have lost],” Carter said. “So I didn’t go. Instead, I watched it at a friend’s house in Los Angeles. I lost my mind just watching the darned thing unfold on TV. It was surreal to me. It was unbelievable.
“I can’t remember where I was for the NFC Championship Game, but I think I was on the road that week. To me, that game was even more special because we played the Eagles year after year and kept meeting them in the playoffs. Finally we got over that hump. I was so happy we finally beat them. That was a good Eagles team, too, and to win it in Philly was awesome.”
While Carter relished the Buccaneers becoming world champions, he still missed the days when Dungy coached the team.
“I love Jon Gruden, but I feel like we were robbed of multiple Super Bowl chances by the firing of Tony Dungy,” Carter said. “No disrespect to the Glazers. They had to make a decision, but there was so much loyalty to Dungy. So many were loyal to that man.
“The Bert Emanuel rule – is it a catch or not a catch? – really got us in 1999 against the Rams. I was so angry after that play. He caught the ball! We were robbed of going to the Super Bowl that year and it just seemed like once the team got their rings [after the Super Bowl season in 2002] they said, ‘We’re over this.’ Then we lost John Lynch. We lost Warren Sapp. It was tough.”
Bucs fans know how tough it is being a fan of losing team. Since winning the Super Bowl, Tampa Bay has compiled a dismal record of 75-117 (39 percent), including a 17-47 (26.5 percent) mark over the past four years, which is the worst in the NFL. Since the fabled 2002 season, in which Tampa Bay finished with a record of 15-4, including the postseason, the Bucs have posted just four winning seasons in the last 12 years with only two playoff appearances.
Yet Carter’s allegiance to the Buccaneers hasn’t wavered since becoming a fan as a child. Since Carter was born in 1980 the Bucs have only had nine winning seasons over the past 35 years. It hasn’t been cool or fashionable to be a Bucs fan for many of those years, and outside of ESPN’s legendary college basketball announcer Dick Vitale, who lives in Sarasota, Carter says he doesn’t know of any other celebrities that are die-hard fans of the Pewter Pirates like he is.
“No, there’s not many at all, and I’m proud to say that if anybody wants to jump on the bandwagon that they know who was there first,” Carter said. “I look at myself as being the Jack Nicholson of the Bucs. I want to be there as much as I can and I will be there on the sidelines when I can. We’re sucking, and I’m still a fan.
“But I know what’s going to happen. When we start doing well people will be rocking the Bucs jerseys and representing, but I was there first. I was there when the team was wearing the creamsicle jerseys.”
And Carter’s hometown team was there to play a role in launching his successful career and his rise to stardom with the Backstreet Boys.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
Good stuff, Scott. I’ve always thought it was a huge bummer that our only celebrity fan was a Backstreet Boy. But nevertheless, Nick is one of our own. Hope to see him rep the new jersey when he does more TV appearances.
I’m pretty sure Hulk Hogan reps the Bucs too. And wasn’t Tiger Woods a fan? Or did he just like Gruden?
I love to hear history of some of our fans. Great Article.
I’m more concerned with the fans who are not famous or “celebrities” and whether or not they’ll continue to support the team. Our fan base is strong but there needs to be more of them and I sincerely doubt that a “celebrity” on the sideline attracts anything but yawns. Good for them but what about paying attention to those of us who pay a much higher percentage of our income to see losing year after year after year? THAT matters. WINNING matters. THAT will attract more fans, bandwagon or not.
Garv; I agree with you. I still enjoy reading about the rich & famous who love the Bucs, especially if they are purchasing extra tickets for kids who cbecome adults buy tickets in the future.
It would be interesting to hear about other famous Bucs fans… Isn’t Andy Roddick a Bucs fan as well? e
I’m only upset he didn’t call Philadelphia a bunch of a slobs and mock that we shutdown their dump of a stadium with a big fat L and opened their new stadium for them with a big fat L.
Enjoyed reading about a famous young man who maintained his loyalty to the team when it has often been a difficult task. Garv is absolutely right. It’s winning and the belief that the Buccaneers have a strong chance to win every Sunday that puts butts in the seats. That’s the only “stadium experience” that really matters.
I think that Carter is a great fan of the Bucs. I wish the entire nfl would give more respect to the Bucs who did get to the super bowl one time and won it all. Why not buc fans I would love to see the bucs back in the big games before my life is over.Iam 69 yrs young and I grwup in Tampa before Tampa had a NFL teams just University of Tampa was around.GO BUCS
I don’t care that he’s a backstreet boy I do appreciate his story of being a Bucs Fan, I too have many stories to tell as I too met several players of days past and have pics with them in my game room namely Hardy Nickerson who I met at USF walking from practice field to Bucs Locker Room across the street. One of most regretted memories is not getting a picture with Lynch after practice as it was his first yr and nobody talked to him and one guy asked me who the white guy was I said that’s our 3rd round pick from Stanford I was uninterested in meeting him damn, I regret that, ha I do have a mess of pics with guys like Floyd Peters, Vince Workman, Charles McRae, Danny Peebles, Vinny, and countless other hall of shamers ha. One of my best memories is hanging with Jimmy Giles on the night he was inducted into ring of honor at Selmons after the game he was so cool and down to earth and was actually talking to my kid forever about being a football player very cool guy
I remember going to the Empress Lilly at the old WDW Village in 1993 to some kind of meet the Bucs draft picks party. I met John Lynch and Demetrius DuBose. I remember having John sign my hat and then later on leaving the damn thing on the roof of the car and never seeing it again.
Why is this year old article and its comments being published again? I too have lots of stories about being a Bucs fans. I suspect we all do.
JonnyG: I’m crushed that nowhere in your trip down Memory Lane did you mention the time you got to sit with Scubog at a game. I still look back on it and smile.
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