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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Shaun King: Back in the Day

For an NFL ‘Under the Helmet’ segment, Buc QB Shaun King talked about growing up in St. Petersburg and winning the coveted Fish Bowl


Get under Shaun King's helmet to find out about his formative years in the Bay area

(by Aaron Boulding,

Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy handed the keys to the Buccaneers offense over to Shaun King late last season and the second-year player out of Tulane hasn't given them back. King has a slight advantage, though, because he's played quarterback in the Tampa Bay Area before, at Gibbs High School in Saint Petersburg.

The NFL is light years from high school, but King is realizing a lifelong dream playing for the team he dreamed about as a teenager. That was maybe half a dozen years ago but it's still Back in the Day for Shaun King.

NFLUTH: Did you ever imagine then that you'd be a quarterback in the NFL?

Shaun King: I did. It's something I always envisioned myself doing. I think back to all of the drills I used to do. All the hours I used to spend staying after practice throwing into a tire, and doing stuff like that.

NFLUTH: What made you want to be a quarterback?

SK: I like being in control. I like having a big say in what happens in the game, whether we won or lost. I felt quarterback gave me that opportunity.

NFLUTH: Did you feel you were destined to be a leader?

SK: Yeah. I've always…I felt I had the ability to get the guys to rally around me and play up to their potential, and just give 100 percent effort. I think that's what characterizes a leader who knows when he's competitive in sports. I'd say "yeah."

NFLUTH: What was your favorite play to run in high school?

SK: Any one that scored a touchdown! No. I just like to throw the ball. I throw it deep. Back then you love seeing it spiral in the air and come down, hear the crowd roaring.

NFLUTH: Is there one game that sticks out?

SK: We were going to the end zone. We were playing Northeast high school. They were undefeated, 9-0. It was the last game of the season. We were 8-1. It was the 4th quarter, probably about 30 seconds left. We threw a long touchdown. I think it had been like 5 years since they had lost to a team in St. Pete. That was a special moment here.

NFLUTH: What was your favorite play?

SK: We had a little special play for late in the game when we needed a touchdown. We'll call it a hook & ladder. We'd throw it to a guy and one of the guys would come out on the backfield on a run. He'd pitch it to him. It was something that worked for us each time we did it.

NFLUTH: How'd you first get into football?

SK: I loved the physical part of the game. Plus it was what I was best at. I was pretty good in basketball. I was pretty good at baseball, but I was really good at football.

NFLUTH: How old were you when you first started playing?

SK: I think I was about seven when I started playing. I didn't play quarterback though until I got to high school. I played safety up until that point. But safety didn't have enough impact on the game. I wanted more impact, so I switched to quarterback.

NFLUTH: What was the Fish Bowl?

SK: That was our other house in Tampa. We lived in a neighborhood called the Fish Bowl. All the streets were named after fish. The one I lived on was Perch. We had some others: Bass, Tarpon and Cold Field Bass. Just different stuff like that. What we used to do is we used to divide it in the middle. This half of the Fish Bowl would play that half of the Fish Bowl in what we called the Fish Bowl. You had the Orange Bowl or the Independence Bowl. So we just decided to call it the Fish Bowl. It was just a way for us to get together. We thought we had the better half of the neighborhood so we'd go for the football. Of course, we never lost. We always won. It was cool. We had a little game at St. Pete. But we'd play in the street. We played two-hand touch in the street and tackle, go in the grass. We played the different streets, like 15th Street or 16th Street. We used to have a good time.

NFLUTH: The Fish Bowl was a pretty big event then?

SK: Yeah. You had to make the team because it was 11 on 11. So you had to make the team. We used to have a draft, and we'd have to cut...

NFLUTH: Wait, you actually had a draft? Who organized it?

SK: All of us. We'd get together. Everybody would show up. We'd pick 11 from the bunch, everybody else would just cheer you on. We used to play at the elementary school, actually. Go over and jump the fence. Probably get us in trouble. We used to go have fun. It's a little different now. You've got a lot of people watching.

NFLUTH: Compare playing in the Fish Bowl to almost getting to the Super Bowl?

SK: Well, it was just as big when you put it on how we thought about it back then. That was big, to win that. Now this is big. I guess more people will know if we win the Super Bowl than if we win the Fish Bowl.

NFLUTH: What advice would you give kids today?

DK: Never give up on your dreams. Just know what you want to accomplish and decide that you're going to do what it takes to accomplish it. That means you're going to have to sacrifice some things and give up some things. But it's worth it.

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