Debating who was worse among the NFL teams

by Gary Shelton on September 16, 2016 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Friday, 6 a.m.

“Hugh Culverhouse.”

“Bill Bidwill.”

“Vinny Testaverde.”

“Kelly Stouffer.”

And off we went.

Once more, into the debate that wouldn't end.

Former St. Louis Globe-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz and I would run into each other in a press box, and we would make small talk, and we would talk about the issues of the NFL of

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the day. We'd talk about families. And then Bernie would grin, and our argument had life again.

“Eric Curry.”

“Steve Little.”

“Booker Reese.”

“Ken Harvey.”

The argument was this. Which group of fans have witnessed more ugliness than heaven should allow: Bucs or Cardinals? I had scar tissue on my eyes from watching the Bucs. He had pain in his posterior from watching the Cardinals.

I supposed in some places, a Steelers' fan and a Packers' fan might have a similar defense. But that one would be about excellent seasons and Hall of Fame players.

“The Bucs didn't sign Bo Jackson after they drafted him.”

“The Cardinals didn't sign Joe Namath after they drafted him.”

“Keith McCants.”

“Ugh. We had him, too. David Boston.”

“Ugh. We had him, too.”

And on it went, through the press boxes of America, through the years. And in the end, of course, both of us were right. And both of us were wrong. The Bucs and Cardinals spent most of the years of their existence in the shallow end of the pool. The Bucs had their run from the mid-90s to the early 2000s. The Cardinals seem to have become smart.

Sometimes, our debate even included coaches.

“Ray Perkins.”

“Gene Stallings.”

“Sam Wyche.”

“Buddy Ryan.”

Even now, I have no doubt that the next time I talk to Bernie, the same conversation will begin. Oh, he's lost a little interest since the Cardinals left for Arizona, and the Rams came and then left for L.A. He no longer works at the Globe-Dispatch.

Still, it seems that we ought to go one more round, just for the heck of it.

“Dexter Jackson.”

“Clyde Duncan.”

“Kenyatta Walker.”

"Leonard Davis."

Can anyone possibly win?

* * *

Jon Gruden talked about quitting as Bucs' coach in the desert. Well, sort of.

His team lost its regular season finale in 2004, and Gruden was upset that Chris Simms had had problems with the snap. “We're going to have a guy who can take a snap,” Gruden growled, “or I won't be here.”

Three times in his postgame interviews, Gruden spoke of circumstances in which he no longer would be the coach of the Bucs. Each time, he was talking about a problem that had worn thin.

Was he thinking about leaving? No. But he really was upset.

“Look, I plan on being here until I'm dead,” Gruden said. “Or until one of those big yellow excavators comes and takes me away. But we've got to be able to handle a snap, we've got to be able to hold onto the football. That's all.”

* * *

Maybe the worst football game of all time was in 1992, when the Bucs beat the Cardinals by a thrilling score of 7-3. The field was a beach. Each team missed three field goals. The Bucs ran for 30 yards. And, yes, they charged for tickets.

I still remember Tony Mayberry after the game. I asked about the lower-impact of the upcoming draft. “Bucs fans have seen a lot of draft picks,” he said. “I'd think they'd want to see a win.”

* * *

One of the key wins in Tampa Bay history was when the Bucs moved to 5-0. Trent Dilfer hit Karl Williams on a fourth-and-six pass late in the game for 31 yards to lead to a 19-18 victory. The Bucs ended up reaching the playoffs.

* * *

Maybe the worst I was ever fooled by the Bucs came in a 38-35 victory by Tampa Bay over Arizona in 2010.

Yesterday's Triplets were amazing against Arizona. LeGarrett Blount ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Mike Williams caught four passes for 105 yards. And Josh Freeman threw for 278 yards and had a rating of 121.8. I thought it was going to last.

And it didn't. Which tells you, don't count on success to keep shining when it has faulty wiring.

* * *

Oh, that reminds me.

"Josh Freeman."

Just guessing, but I'd guess the counter-move is...

"Matt Leinart.

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