TAMPA, Fla. -- Ryan Succop sat alone in a Tampa hotel room back in August, looking for a sign from above.
The former Titans kicker had been tested in the past year. A successful career had been interrupted by a troublesome knee injury that required surgery, and it impacted his game. He was never quite right on the field for the Titans in 2019, and it showed. It led to the most frustrating season of his playing career, which ended with him being placed on Injured Reserve, and then more months of recovery and soul-searching while wondering if, when, and where he'd play in the NFL again.
So here was Succop, the night before his tryout for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, praying for answers.
When he stepped into his hotel's parking lot, in the distance he saw Raymond James Stadium, home of the Buccaneers.
And he got his sign.
"I had been praying, and kind of struggling, asking, 'Lord show me where you want me to be. Show me what you want me to do," Succop recalled. "And then I looked up and saw this huge rainbow, and it looks like it is going into Raymond James Stadium. It gave me chills."
Succop woke up the next morning, had a flawless workout with the Buccaneers the next day, and by night's end he'd signed a contract to renew his playing career.
On Sunday he'll kick for the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV – at Raymond James Stadium – against the Kansas City Chiefs, his first NFL team, following one of the best seasons of his 12-year career.
How's that for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
"I'm telling you, that rainbow was the deciding factor," Succop said. "It was God talking to me, telling me He wanted me to be in Tampa. It was one of those powerful moments where it was like, 'OK, I think you want me to be here, Lord. I trusted Him, and this whole season has been a blessing in so many ways."
Succop, who kicked from 2014-2019 with the Titans, has been solid for the Buccaneers.
On the season he's 28-of-31 on his field goal attempts (90.3 %), with a long of 50. Succop has been a perfect 8-of-8 in the playoffs, including a big, pressure-packed kick against the Packers in the NFC Championship Game.
Succop, who has been living in a two-bedroom apartment in Tampa all season while the rest of his family remains in their home in Nashville, said it's been a year like no other.
Just a few days after signing with the Buccaneers, his wife, Paige, paid him a visit with the couple's two young children. Succop's son, Cooper, handed him a drawing he'd penned with his mom, dad, himself, and his sister, Reese. But there was another tiny figure in the drawing.
"I looked at my wife and said, 'Who is his friend? And she had a tear in her eye," Succop said with a smile. "What is that Thomas Rhett song, 'Life Changes?' Within a matter of four days I found out I am living in a new city, I am on a new team, my family is apart from me, and oh yeah, we have a baby on the way. It's been a whirlwind, but God has blessed me in so many ways. I have so much to be thankful for."
Succop said he's been buoyed by the support he's received from friends and family in Nashville, which he calls "home." Tiffany Kern, wife of Titans punter Brett Kern, is among those who've brought meals to the Succop house in Nashville.
Succop said he's thankful for his days with the Titans, where he made so many game-winning kicks, and memories.
"I have nothing but fond memories of my time in Tennessee," Succop said. "I am so grateful for my six years there, the relationships I made there. There are some guys on that team in the locker room now that are some of my best friends and will be for the rest of our lives. Nashville is our home, we love the city, we have a lot of great friends there, and I love the fans. I still get a lot of great messages and a lot of support front the Titans community. It was a great ride, and I am thankful for the experience."
Titans General Manager Jon Robinson said he'd happy for Succop's success.
"I am pumped for him," Robinson said of Succop. "I know it was a frustrating year for him last year with us. It was a weird year for us at that position. But he's always been a consummate pro, has a great family, is a strong Christian. He never wavered in his thoughts. … I am proud of him."
Titans Online looks back at kicker Ryan Succop's six seasons in Tennessee. (AP Photos)
Succop, who spent his first five NFL seasons with the Chiefs before signing with the Titans, admits the road wasn't easy.
After being placed on Injured Reserve by the Titans during the 2019 season after going 1-of-6 in games – he'd made 154-of-163 field goal attempts in his five previous years with the team – Succop gave himself more time to recover.
Succop said he began working out with former Titans teammate Luke Stocker last March, and by June he felt like he was back to full strength. Succop then waited for the opportunity, and it came from the Buccaneers, where he handles extra points and field goals. The Buccaneers have another specialist who handles kickoffs.
Succop said the road to the Super Bowl has been a special one with the Buccaneers, where he's teammates with quarterback Tom Brady.
"Sometimes I still have to pinch myself, thinking this is so wild, I am getting to play with the greatest player that's ever played the game," Succop said of Brady. "And to see what makes him so successful is really cool, the way that he works, the way that he leads. And one of the coolest things for me has been the way that he treats people. That is what I have been so impressed with. The guy makes everyone feel important, even the little guy like me, who may only have six or seven or even less plays in the game, and he makes you feel important. There's been a lot of times he's come up and been like, 'Man, that was a big kick for us', or whatever that might be, and he does that to everybody. So, it is really cool to see someone in his position treat everyone with so much respect. He is just a special guy and it has been an honor to get to play with him."
On Sunday, Succop will take the field with Brady and the rest of his teammates at Raymond James Stadium.
He's thankful for the journey.
And for that rainbow.
"I think God puts us in situations and he puts adversity in our lives to grow us," Succop said. "And I think everything I had to go through last year, the frustration of the injury, I had a lot of growth, as a player, in my faith, in my family. Looking back, I am thankful I went through it, even though it was not fun at a time, I was able to grow from it.
"And now this whole season has been such a blessing in so many ways. For me, being able to come back after what happened the season before and get a fresh start here, and the way the Lord as blessed that, it has been incredible. Now, getting a chance to play in the Super Bowl, it's something you dream about as a kid. I am grateful."