It was a usual sunny, yet musty September afternoon in the bay area. It was game day, and our Buccaneers were gearing up to take on the Steelers in the ‘new sombrero’. It was the 2018 season, and all was feeling good so far. I had met John Graham roughly a year earlier on our established Bucs Life Facebook group page, and we struck up a quick friendship. It was kind of hard not to with John. A passionate Bucs’ fan, and a loving father, he had a hearty laugh and a quality sense of humor. More than these amazing attributes was his heart. He was not the guy who was going to bad mouth another person for any reason that I ever heard. John was certainly a special guy.
We had made an agreement that he would join me at one of the games in exchange for a custom model Bucs’ themed car of his own design. As well, I made the case for one beer out of the deal for good measure! Before stomping into Raymond James, John and I attended a What the Buc pregame tailgate party. I met many of you there, as John was my personal guide to all the right folks. Speaking of John’s designs, he brought several Lee Roy Selmon photos in frames with Buccaneer Bruce insignias. He gave them out to several people and even surprised me with one. He went well out of his way, but it is just the way he lived life. As game time approached, I told John that the walk might be too much for me. I was dealing with an increasingly poor working kidney system and very weak. He said not to worry and paid for us to park up close to the stadium. This really saved my ass and was a most generous gesture. Once the game started, we had a blast. John insisted on buying me water after water to stay hydrated in the Florida heat. I miss my friend.
Although the Bucs fell short in the end, that summer day in 2018 was one of a few great times I have had ever since. Now, in full-blown kidney failure and on hemodialysis, I wait for a transplant. And, my friend John Graham is only available in spirit. For most, that would not be enough. For John, he’ll always be smiling rocking that Ricky Bell jersey!