Some players, including tight end Rob Gronkowski, arrived after noon to board boats ahead of the parade.
Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady floated along on his custom boat named Viva a Vida. Before players began their trip down the river, he stopped to converse with Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, who thanked Brady and said the unconventional parade “may not be pretty but it will work.”
“We had to do it today with the Buccaneers here. A lot of them are leaving town so we just had to do this as quick as we could,” she told WFLA-TV. “We will have an appropriate parade later down the road when we’re out from under this pandemic.”
Brady completed 72 percent of his passes with no interceptions in Sunday’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs. He threw what was perhaps his riskiest toss of the week Wednesday, looking to tight end Cameron Brate, who was earlier misidentified as Gronkowski.
His throw carried the Super Bowl trophy above the water. A wide receiver’s phone wasn’t so lucky.
The armada followed a V-shaped route through the river, although the boats sailed in the opposite direction of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s nautical parade in September.
Players’ boats docked at Port Tampa Bay to continue the celebration. With the Lombardi Trophy safely ashore, they crowded onto a stage to dance.
Castor addressed a small crowd from the stage before Coach Bruce Arians and General Manager Jason Licht offered enthusiastic — and colorful — comments of their own.
“We have the best coaching staff in the NFL and we’ve damn sure got the best players in the NFL,” Arians said. “Anybody that says run it back, b-------, all right. That’s Kansas City’s b-------. We goin’ for two. We’re goin’ for two and we ain’t stoppin'. We going to keep this band together and they know how to win.”
Brady, fresh off his viral trophy completion, was slated to speak according to WTSP-TV, but he might have gone a bit overboard on the Viva a Vida.
Second-year linebacker Devin White declared that he and Lavonte David formed “the best duo in the world.” He took the mic from David to demand the team re-sign him as the nine-year veteran enters unrestricted free agency this offseason.
Mountainous nose tackle Vita Vea, wearing Oakley goggles and a T-shirt with Brady’s scouting combine photo on it, took control of a Fox News camera. When he took possession of the mic, he shouted out the defensive line.
One of those players, Jason Pierre-Paul, reiterated calls to re-sign key defensive players.
“This means so much to me, I’ll do it again,” he said.
“Y’all bring Shaq [Barrett] back please. Y’all bring him back please, and we gonna do it again.”