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Super Bowl fans have Sunday planned

by Regina Purcell, Nevada Appeal News Service
Photo by Belinda GrantCheering for the Oakland Raiders is mandatory for the Cruz family, from left, Jordan, Ken, Leo, Joanne and David.
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You can be sure Gardnerville residents Sylvia Arnett and Ken Cruz will be planted firmly in front of a television screen on Sunday to watch Super Bowl 37.

They’ll be rooting for their team — even though it won’t be the same one.

Arnett is the die-hard Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan. Not only does her license plate read “Bucs,” but she has clothes, banners and a computer screen saver pronouncing her devotion. Cruz is an Oakland Raiders fanatic, and also collects memorabilia touting the his favorite team.

The two teams with contrasting styles meet today to determine the National Football League’s champion. The Raiders, with a record of 13-5, and Bucs, with 14 wins to 4 losses, meet at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium for the sports event that draws more than 200 million viewers from around the world.

Both Carson Valley residents, typical of other sports enthusiasts in the area, are sure their team will be victorious.

“We know the Bucs are going to win because they have the best defense in the league,” Arnett said.

“Raiders have the advantage because (Tampa Bay Coach Jon) Gruden used to be their coach,” Cruz said. “Players want to play their best against their former coach. The Raiders players have more incentive.”

Arnett has followed the Bucs since the early ’70s. She is a longtime fan of the Bucs’ first coach, John McKay, who died in 2001.

“I am a real fan,” she said. “I am not just jumping on the bandwagon. I just started following the team and always liked them, big time.”

Cruz, a lifetime Valley resident, said he didn’t have any other choice but to follow the Raiders.

His wife Joanne said their children were born Raiders fans — “It was part of our (marriage) vows — to love, honor and be a Raiders fan.”

Arnett and her group of Bucs fans will be at Gardnerville’s Full Belly Deli to catch the game.

“It will be 95 percent Raiders’ fans, but they promised us one table for Bucs’ fans,” she said.

The Cruz family isn’t sure where they will watch.

“We don’t know yet,” he said. “Somewhere we can actually watch the game.

“There are a lot of Super Bowl parties, but most people are coming for the party, not to watch the game.”