Let’s take a trip back in time, to late January 2003 and Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego California.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had won their first (and to this date only) Super Bowl title after demolishing the Oakland Raiders.
The Bucs defence lead the way, intercepting NFL MVP Rich Gannon a miraculous five times, giving coach Jon Gruden, who had been traded from the Raiders to the Bucs 12 months prior, a huge win over his former (and now current) employers.
Now Tampa Bay is going for its second Super Bowl title when they host the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday morning.
The world has changed quite a lot since then, so let’s take a look back at what things were like in January 2003.
Tom Brady had 1 Super Bowl Title… and Was Happy in New England
Back then, before Brady decided to lay waste to the NFL, he was the goofy faced kid who was trying to prove he belonged in the NFL.
Sure he had helped the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXVI 12 months prior but New England had just finished a 9-7 season, missing the playoffs on a tiebreaker and were gearing up for a reload and a run in 2003.
Brady and Belichick seemingly had a much nicer relationship back then as well and they’d go on to make history, winning another five Super Bowls and setting all sorts of records before Brady decided to flock to Florida.
The Super Bowl Was Played in January
The Buccaneers-Raiders Super Bowl was the last time the NFL title game was played in the month of January.
It was also the last time the NFL would have a one week gap between the Conference Championships and the Super Bowl, with the events of September 11, 2001 prompting the NFL to add in the pre-Super Bowl bye week and pushing the game back to February.
Cleveland’s Playoff Drought Was Just Beginning
The Browns had just lost to the Steelers in the Wild Card Round and thought it would only be a matter of time before they were back in the playoffs.
It took until this season for their next playoff appearance, where they managed to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card Round this time.
St Louis, San Diego and Oakland All Had NFL Teams
San Diego was actually a regular in the Super Bowl rotation for a long time, however Super Bowl XXXVII was the last time the big game made its way to southern California.
The Chargers moved a couple of hours north to the become tenants in new home of the team formerly known as the St Louis Rams, who made their move to California in 2016.
Next year the palace of SoFi Stadium, the home of the Rams and Chargers will host the Super Bowl.
It was originally meant to be there this season however construction delays forced the Rams to postpone their Super Bowl for 12 months.
As for the Raiders, who were on the wrong end of that Super Bowl in 2003, they left their former home of Oakland and went east to Las Vegas, which will put on one of the most ridiculously over the top Super Bowls when the NFL decides to award them with hosting rights.
Houston Was Optimistic About Its NFL Future
The franchise had just completed its second season, was not being run by a former team chaplain and their 25-year-old franchise quarterback was not asking for a trade out of town.
Carson Palmer Was About to be Drafted by Cincinnati
At the other end of the NFL world, the Cincinnati Bengals had just completed a 2-14 season and were preparing to pick first overall in the 2003 NFL Draft.
They would wind up selecting USC quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer first overall and he would spend eight years with the franchise before being traded to Oakland.
Everyone Was Waiting for Rookie LeBron
There was just that pesky task of graduating from high school standing in between 18-year-old LeBron and the NBA.
His senior year of high school wasn’t all smooth sailing though, he was suspended for two games for accepting memorabilia in exchange for some photos.
Still, over the last 18 years, LeBron has at least shown that the hype surrounding him as a teenager was worth it.
… And Michael Jordan Was Preparing to Retire For Good
While LeBron was getting ready to enter the NBA, Michael Jordan was preparing to retire for a third (and we assume) final time.
Soon after Tampa’s Super Bowl win, Jordan played in his 14th and final NBA All Star Game.
Kevin Garnett Was the NBA All Star Game MVP
You know what they say…
Serena Williams and Andre Agassi Were Celebrating Australian Open Wins
Andre Agassi claimed the men’s singles final over German Rainer Schuttler in a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 victory.
It would be his fourth win in Melbourne for the eighth and final Grand Slam title of his career.
In the women’s draw, Serena Williams completed a historic Serena Slam, defeating her sister Venus 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-4 in the final.
That was the fourth consecutive Grand Slam Serena had won, the first of two times where she held all four Grand Slam singles titles at once.
The Brisbane Lions Were in the Midst of a Dynasty
Locally, it’s hard to look back at anything other than the mighty Brisbane Lions side that was dominating the AFL, winning two Grand Finals and preparing for a third.
The Wallabies Had the Bledisloe Cup
Like we said, simpler times…