Kicker Martin Gramatica was accurate from any range last year, as revealed by the 2000 R&F Book
The 2000 National Football League Record and Fact Book, affectionately known as the 'White Book' and the 'R&F' in NFL circles, arrived at the various team headquarters this week and will soon hit area bookstores as well. The annual tome weighs in at 504 pages this year and is, as usual, a bottomless source of information on NFL facts and figures, rules and regulations, records and rosters, highlights and history.
There was a time that Buccaneer fans would have to focus on the league as a whole to get maximum enjoyment from the R&F. Each club receives four pages of coverage in the team-by-team section at the front of the book, but the record and stat-related sections later in the volume do not necessarily promise equal representation. Buccaneers of the 1980s and early '90s did not often dent the NFL record books.
That has changed for the better and the R&F is once again a fine read for any Tampa Bay fan looking to pan for Buccaneer nuggets. Just a quick flip through the 2000 edition brought these interesting Buc facts to light:
· A pair of Tampa Bay players rank second and third on the NFL's list of active punt returners. Karl Williams and Jacquez Green are in a virtual dead heat with Oakland's Darrien Gordon on the career chart; each has a 12.4-yard average. However, Gordon tops the list at 12.447, Williams is next at 12.438 and Green is third at 12.396.
· Rookie TE James Whalen was the only player drafted out of the University of Kentucky last April.
· Tampa Bay has allowed the fewest yards, passing yards and points in the NFL over the last four years combined. They also top those charts over a period of the last three years and the last two years. The Bucs' 1,086 points allowed since Tony Dungy took over as head coach in 1996 are 29 less than Dallas has surrendered in the same span.
· FB Mike Alstott is tied for fifth in the NFL in rushing touchdowns scored over the past three years. His total of 22 such TDs is one back of that posted by Leroy Hoard and James Stewart, who are tied for third.
· The Bucs' best month during the 1990s was December, in which they went 20-21 despite some rough years in the early going. That's a better final-month record during that span than those recorded by Miami (19-23), Denver (19-23), New England (20-22) and Chicago (15-25), among others.
· Newly-acquired WR Keyshawn Johnson snagged a combined 172 receptions over the past two seasons. That total is fourth in the NFL from 1998-99, trailing only those posted by Jimmy Smith (194), Marvin Harrison (174) and Marshall Faulk (173).
· The second quarter was the highest scoring period in the NFL last year, with teams averaging 103.4 points in that quarter over the course of the regular season. Tampa Bay, however, surrendered just 47 points during 16 second quarters in 1999, an average of less than a field goal a game and easily the league's lowest mark.
· On the flip side, the modest point totals put up by the Bucs' offense was good for just 27th in the league in overall scoring. However, Tampa Bay shot up to 12th in the league in scoring in the fourth quarter (5.5 points per game), accounting for the team's propensity for last-minute comebacks.
· The NFL breaks field goal stats down into five sets of distances – 0-19 yards, 20-29 yards, 30-39 yards, 40-49 yards and 50 or more yards. Only four kickers in the NFL were successful on at least 75% of their kicks in each range (some had no attempts in the 0-19 range). Those three were San Diego's John Carney, San Francisco's Wade Richey, New Orleans' Doug Brien and the Bucs' sensational rookie, Martin Gramatica.
· Add Gramatica: The Buc rookie led the NFC in field goals made with 27 and was second only to Detroit's Jason Hanson in the conference for most field goals of 50 or more yards. Hanson made four of eight such attempts while Gramatica made three of four. Washington's Brett Conway also had three 50+-yarders but had nine tries from that range.
· The league's schedule is devised each year using the previous season's standings and an emphasis on common opponents. However, the inter-conference games that each team will play are against a conference that is predetermined. The Buccaneers and the rest of the NFC Central will be matched up against the AFC Central in 2001, after playing AFC East teams this year.
· Anthony McFarland was the seventh youngest player in the NFL in 1999 (he turned 22 last December) and the youngest defensive lineman to suit up.
· Brett Favre has suffered 35 sacks at the hands of Tampa Bay rushers, more than against any opponent other than Minnesota, which has gotten to Favre 36 times. However, if the postseason is added, the Bucs have caused Favre to eat dirt 39 times, more than any other team. Of course, the feeling has often been mutual…Favre also has 31 career TD passes against Tampa Bay, 32 including the postseason.
There are, of course, many more Buccaneer-related facts mixed into the White Book's account of the league. There is, however, one more place Tampa Bay would like to be represented when the 2001 Record and Fact Book hits the shelves: the cover.
Each year, that spot is reserved for the Most Valuable Player of the previous Super Bowl.