The COVID-19 pandemic has derailed what just about everyone in this country hoped to accomplish in 2020. For one specific fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers it’s impacted what was to be one of the most iconic moments of his life. Still, from listening to his own words it hasn’t dimmed the meaning of what’s happened, and it hasn’t deterred him from his outlook on what the future can become.
I’m writing about Keith Kunzig of course, or ‘Big Nasty’ to Bucs Nation. The Buccaneers superfan was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Ford Hall of Fans.
He joins other Bucs notables like Lee Roy Selmon, Tony Dungy, Warren Sapp, and the great Derrick Brooks. There are a couple of really good stories about a couple of those guys in the interview I’m writing about today.
Recently, Kunzig sat down with Brent Allen and Ren Daxt of The PewterCast to share his experiences so far as an inaugural Hall of Fans inductee, and what it’s meant to him being chosen to represent Buccaneers fandom.
Among other things, Kunzig talked about the emotional feelings and humbling experience it was to imagine the generations of Bucs fans and his own family members who will all have a place to go to and celebrate their connection, in Canton, Ohio.
“There’s nothing like seeing something that’s permanently displayed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not a temporary fix...’Big Nasty’ will be in the Hall of Fame; my grandkids, their grandkids, their grandkids after are going to be able to see that exhibit.”
The enshrinement ceremonies usually held in August as part of the kickoff to the preseason weren’t able to happen because of COVID-19. However, the inductees were still able to go to Canton and see the exhibits in a more intimate setting.
Kunzig shares some very interesting moments during the interview, some profound, and some funny. One which stuck out among the rest was another conversation he had about realizing just how long-lasting everything happening would be.
“We’re doing some TV stuff for that commercial, and in-between I’m sitting down with David Baker the commissioner of the for Pro Football Hall of Fame....And he goes to me and he (says), ‘I just want to say this to you: 100 David Baker’s from now we will preserve you - ‘Big Nasty’ - in the hall, forever.’”
Forever. That’s some heavy stuff, and a huge honor Kunzig doesn’t take lightly.
As the conversation continues, the hosts and their guest chronicle some of the items which will be on display in Canton, Ohio and what they mean. Some of them are unique origin stories tied to schemes, memories of games watched long ago. Then others carry more significant history with them.
Like the jersey carrying patches which represent all of Bucs Nation, including fan groups like the Buccaholics and one patch in particular with ties to the passing of another well-known Buccaneers fan.
The three share stories about community, family, and what football provides in tying it all together.
In writing this post, there are so many points in their conversation which I would love to transcribe and share with our readers. But really, I want this to serve as a launching point for fans of the Bucs - and of good people - to take it in for themselves.
It’s one of the better football conversations I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing, and it’s not because of the X’s and O’s, but because of the authenticity behind what it means to be a fan - a superfan - and how we can all find ways to use our platforms to benefit those around us.
Of course, the thought Warren Sapp will forever sit across from Derrick Brooks and the conversations that occur when nobody is around to hear them, is also one of my favorite stories from this recording.
Technically, Kunzig is in the Ford Hall of Fans because of the character known as ‘Big Nasty’.
Listening to the interview however, I truly believe it’s the character Kunzig carries inside of ‘Big Nasty’ that makes him Hall of Fame worthy before the face paint and helmet ever go on at all.
As he said himself,
“It isn’t about me, it’s about Buc Nation...”
Good news is, if all goes to plan, Bucs Nation will be able to head to Canton in 2021 to celebrate with ‘Big Nasty’ and a whole new class of people headed into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In the meantime, I sincerely hope you all find the time to listen to the conversation.