A most unusual thing happened outside Raymond James Stadium on Sunday before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took on the Carolina Panthers in the first week of the NFL Season — a collection of Tampa Bay fans and Carolina fans got together for a tailgate. And, by all accounts, they had a great time hanging out together.
While they may have worn different NFL jerseys, they did have something in common. They were all alumni (or friends) of NC State.
Almost three dozen football fans gathered for a “TamPack” tailgate, complete with Eastern North Carolina pork barbecue, smoked chicken legs, baby back ribs and all the fixings (yes, there was sweet tea). Ryan Patrick, a 2009 graduate, brought a custom-built set of NC State cornhole boards and Patrick and Ryan DeJong, a 2005 graduate who is the leader of the Tampa Bay alumni network, hoisted an NC State flag on a pole painted red and black to catch people’s attention.
“Most people kept busy meeting new friends, telling stories, checking up on scores from around the league and making bold Wolfpack sports predictions,” DeJong said in an email.
DeJong, who organized the event, says Buccaneers’ jerseys outnumbered Panthers’ jerseys, “but I noticed quite a few people in red quietly cheering for the Panthers.”
Kim Cuturilo, a 2005 graduate, traveled from Orlando with her boyfriend for the tailgate. DeJong says several alums who came to the tailgate were attending their first “TamPack” event.
“The Wolfpack Nation is STRONG in Tampa!” DeJong wrote.