TAMPA, Fla. — A Riverview boy got the chance of a lifetime during Super Bowl LIV when he got to run out onto the field ahead of the big game.
Eric Hopson is a 9-year-old elite football player for the Tampa Hurricanes. When his mom saw the NFL casting call for kids ages 9-12 to help celebrate 100 seasons of the NFL, she thought she’d give it a shot.
Out of thousands of entries, 32 kids were chosen to wear their favorite player’s football jersey and run out onto the field ahead of Super Bowl LIV in Miami.
Eric chose to wear Shaquil Barrett’s jersey, so Barrett and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got the honor of surprising Eric with the news.
“They requested his appearance at the Pro Bowl and they actually took him on the sideline during warm-ups, and Shaquil Barrett came out to tell him that he’s going to the Super Bowl,” said Tiffany Hopson, Eric’s mother.
Then off to Miami they went.
Eric worked through some nerves beforehand by playing catch with Shaquille O’Neal, and before long, Eric’s face was up on the big screen in an NFL jersey for the first time.
“We ran out the tunnel and ran on the field and started hyping the crowd up,” said Eric Hopson.
His mom just hopes that won’t be the last time she sees his face on the big screen.
“I pray it’s not the last time, cause I know that’s his dream, and I just want everything he wants to do in life to just come true,” said Tiffany.