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Family of Bucs fans are keeping their father's passion for the team alive nearly 50 years later

Buccaneers family
Posted at 7:39 PM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 19:41:50-05

For Dr. Newt Hardgrave — the mood on Mondays was almost always determined by how well the Buc’s played on Sunday.

“They lost a lot of games and my husband took it really personally,” said Ellen Hardgrave, Newt’s wife.

His love for the team was unwavering and he became a season ticket holder in 1972 several years before Tampa was awarded an NFL pro team.

It’s crazy cause the team didn’t even exist until 1976,” said Bridgette Hardgrave, Newt Hardgrave’s daughter.

He’s been a fan since the cost of a seat in the stands at an NFC championship game was just $16! Ellen was by his side for nearly every game!

“We’ve come such a long way from 1972,” she said.

Dr. Hardgrave was never short on Bucs gear and as his family grew milestones were celebrated in that attire.

“The best memories of my dad literally were going to Bucs games,” said Bridgette.

She says Sundays revolved around tailgates games and even post-game shows on the drive home.

“I’ve thought about him so many times this week and how much he would’ve loved this,” she said.

Dr. Hardgrave passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2013. He was laid to rest in his red buccaneer baseball cap. Bridgette says even in his final weeks he still came out of his bedroom on Sundays to cheer on the Bucs and in his final days, “He said there’s two things I need you to do kids — number one, take care of mom, and number two, never give up the Bucs tickets.”

6 shaded seats on the Bucs side at the 50 yard line the Hardgrave’s patiently worked for.

“We started at the top and we move down and move down and absolutely thrilled to be where we are,” said Ellen.

As a team, but also as a family. Katie Turner, one of Newt’s daughters, says her son Matty is a miniature version of his grandfather when it comes to his knowledge of all things Bucs.

”I was born a Bucs fan,” said Matty Turner, Newt’s Grandson. “You could almost say I was baptized by canon.”

Matty is now a 3rd generation Bucs fan and is helping to carry on his grandfather's legacy.

The Hardgraves say they are frantically checking their e-mail to see if they will be one of the season pass holders chosen to attend the Super Bowl. They say they should know sometime between now and February 1st.