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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A Wild Ride

Five Buccaneers were among the first to test out SheiKra, the new attraction at Busch Gardens that ranks among the scariest of the world’s roller coasters


LB Shelton Quarles found the wait just before SheiKra's big plunge to be excruciating fun

Rare is the NFL player that has to seek out an adrenaline rush; after all, he gets one every time he steps onto the field during the fall. As it turns out, however, there are few rushes that compare to riding the world's tallest and steepest dive coaster...even for a professional football player.

Five members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers spiked their adrenaline on Thursday when they were among the first to ride SheiKra, the newest attraction at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

As those five Bucs can now personally attest, SheiKra has claimed the title of Florida's tallest roller coaster. At 200 feet high, the coaster's 90-degree drop makes it the world's steepest and America's only dive coaster. On Thursday, Derrick Brooks, Michael Clayton, Derrick Deese, Shelton Quarles and Barrett Ruud were invited out to Busch Gardens to preview the new thrill ride before it opened to the public on Saturday. The players got the chance to take a couple of turns on the coaster to really get a feel for Tampa's hottest new thing.

Safe to say, they got a feel for it.

"It's a really good ride," said Brooks, who doesn't consider himself a coaster enthusiast but was quite impressed. "It's not recommended for kids or for the weak stomach."

Once the coaster cruises to its 200-foot height, the passenger car pauses over the edge of the steep drop for about four seconds before it plummets 90 degrees toward the earth. For Quarles, the anticipation of the drop was the highlight of the ride.

"I was talking to Barrett , and the only thing we were thinking about [during the pause] was 'Let us go fast,'" Quarles said. "They had us hanging over that edge for longer than four seconds it seemed. It seemed like an eternity, but we finally got going and it was a fun ride."

In the end, all the guys enjoyed the ride and some found themselves liking it more than they expected. So much so that they might - might - do it again.

"Now that I know kind of what to expect I would probably go back on it again," Brooks said.

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