Antoine Winfield Sr. played in 198 career NFL games, but never reached the Super Bowl.
His son’s rookie season as a Buccaneers safety will end Sunday in Super Bowl LV against the Chiefs.
“After we beat Green Bay, he was the first person who called me,” Antoine Winfield Jr. said of finishing the job for the family. “He’s over there yelling and screaming and telling me congratulations. He was excited. I feel like he was more excited than I was.”
The elder Winfield came heartbreakingly close once during a 14-year career as a cornerback with the Bills and Vikings, but his Minnesota team lost to the Saints in overtime, 31-28, in the 2009 NFC Championship.
Knowing how limited opportunities can be, the younger Winfield isn’t about to miss one. He was a full practice participant Friday for the first time since sitting out the NFC Championship with an ankle injury.
Winfield Jr., who played college ball at Minnesota, slipped to the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft because of questions about how his size (5-foot-9, 203 pounds) would affect his durability. He had 64 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception in the regular season.
“My dad is like another coach,” Winfield Jr. said. “It’s like having an extra meeting, but at home. Throughout the week we are going over how I’m going to play different situations based on who we are playing. We’ll get at least an hour in a day of film together, and him giving me tips and clues on how I can play better. He’s been a huge part of my success.”
After Winfield Jr. forced a game-changing second half fumble against the Saints in the NFC divisional playoffs, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said Winfield — not No. 2-overall pick Chase Young of Washington — should be named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Winfield Jr. trained for the pandemic-affected draft at his father’s side and says he wins the father-son footraces. When Jr. landed with the Buccaneers, Winfield Sr. bragged about his one career interception off of his son’s new teammate: Tom Brady.
“It’s very special and super hard to get here,” Winfield Jr. said. “My dad is like, ‘Enjoy it and go out and win it because you never know when you are going to go back to the Super Bowl, if you are going to go back to the Super Bowl.”
Home sweet home
The Chiefs will hold a Saturday morning walk-through in Kansas City before flying to Tampa.
Much has been made of the Buccaneers playing a home game in the Super Bowl, but the Chiefs have enjoyed all the amenities of their normal routine so far, too. After experiencing the glitz and glamour of Super Bowl week in Miami last year, do the Chiefs feel cheated by being forced to stay away because of COVID-19 rules?
“Not at all,” defensive lineman Chris Jones said. “I love home.”
Former Patriots have more than one reason to root for the Buccaneers. Sure, their ex-teammate Tom Brady is there. But they also are protecting their legacy as the last back-to-back champions (2003-04).
Terrell Davis was part of the Broncos’ back-to-back championships (1997-97), the last to do it before the Patriots (2003-04) featuring Willie McGinest. Both are NFL Network analysts.
“You don’t want them to win,” Davis said. “I was rooting against the Patriots that game. We wanted to hold that distinction of the last team to go back-to-back.”
Added McGinest: “It makes it a tougher game when that’s the goal.”
Brady has moved ahead of Patrick Mahomes and into the No. 1 spot in the NFL in merchandise sales. The latest NFLPA top 50 player sales list shows Brady merchandise was the top-seller from March 1 through Nov. 30. Mahomes had overtaken Brady last year.
Brady said he arrived this past week at the team facility at 6:15 every morning to begin his day of work and that some of the Buccaneers assistant coaches are already in the building. “There’s a lot to study,’’ Brady said. “[The Chiefs] are a tough team to prepare for.’’
Bucs injury report
Tampa Bay WR Antonio Brown (knee) and TE Cameron Brate (back) are listed as questionable. Brown was a full participant in Friday’s practice but Brate did not participate. DE Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) and DT Ndamukong Suh (not injury related) did not practice Friday, but are expected to play.
LB Lavonte David and S Jordan Whitehead are cleared to play after limitations earlier in the week.
Chiefs injury report
WR Demarcus Robinson returned to practice after clearing the COVID-19 safety protocols.
Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins (calf) is questionable, but practiced Friday. RB Darwin Thompson (illness) did not. LT Eric Fisher and LB Willie Gay are out with serious injuries.