A Buc fan named Zach from Salem, Indiana recently sent in a question regarding the article about Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown that appeared in Sports Illustrated just after the draft. Zach wanted to know why Williams appeared in a Buc jersey bearing the number 30, which is a very good question.
And not one Iï¿½m going to get to this week.
(Brilliant writing strategy, Answer Man. Open with a question youï¿½re not* going to answer. Really makes you look good.)*
Zach, Iï¿½ll have your answer in the next column. Frankly, the Answer Man wondered the same thing when he saw the article, but I havenï¿½t had a chance to ask Cadillac about that yet. Iï¿½ll pull him aside this next week and get to the bottom of it.
Anyway, I bring this up because, as Zach notes in his question, the numbers that players choose to wear is an interesting topic in itself. In Williamsï¿½ case, thousands of Buc fans looking to jump on his bandwagon were eager to see what jersey he would end up in so that they could outfit themselves accordingly. As we discussed here in the last column, Cadillac unsurprisingly ended up in his college number, 24, after a little negotiation with third-year cornerback Torrie Cox (who is now number 27).
Many fans readily identify prominent players with their jersey numbers, especially in football, where helmets obscure playersï¿½ faces during games. Only one man in Buccaneer history has worn number 63, as that jersey was retired at the end of Lee Roy Selmonï¿½s career. Similarly, while number 42 is not retired, it has generally been left alone by Buccaneer equipment managers since the early death of running back Ricky Bell. Many Buccaneer fans could immediately tell you who belongs, historically, in numbers 20, 28, 29, 33, 40, 47, 50, 52, 54, 55, 56, 61, 74, 76, 89, 97 and 99. (That would be, respectively, Ronde Barber, Warrick Dunn, Ricky Reynolds, Mark Cotney, Mike Alstott, John Lynch, Steve Wilson, Scot Brantley, Richard Wood, Derrick Brooks, Hardy Nickerson, Tony Mayberry, Paul Gruber, David Logan, Kevin House, Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp.)
But the recent negotiation for number 24 got the Answer Man thinking (no jokes, please). What if the Buccaneers assembled a ï¿½legendsï¿½ type of game, and most of the franchiseï¿½s past stars and notable players reassembled for one game? Which jersey numbers would be most hotly contested? That is, which jersey numbers have graced the backs of multiple standout players in team history, and who would ultimately lay claim to them. Here is the Answer Manï¿½s list of the jersey numbers that would stir up the most controversy.
- 7: Craig Erickson, Sean Landeta, Martin Gramatica * 12: Doug Williams, Trent Dilfer * 14: Jack Thompson, Vinny Testaverde, Brad Johnson * 23: Marty Carter, Jermaine Phillips * 25: Curtis Jordan, Tony Covington, Melvin Johnson, Brian Kelly * 32: Louis Carter, James Wilder, Errict Rhett, Michael Pittman * 34: Cedric Brown, Lars Tate, Reggie Cobb, Dexter Jackson * 35: Jimmy DuBose, Martin Mayhew, Corey Ivy * 51: Chris Washington, Broderick Thomas, Lonnie Marts, Alshermond Singleton * 53: Hugh Green, Ed Brady, Shelton Quarles * 60: Randy Grimes, Jim Pyne, Cosey Coleman * 71: Randy Crowder, Santana Dotson, Jerry Wunsch, Kerry Jenkins * 72: Ray Snell, Rob Taylor, Chidi Ahanotu, Roman Oben * 73: Charley Hannah, Ron Heller, Frank Middleton * 75: Dave Reavis, Eric Curry, Todd Washington * 78: Council Rudolph, John Cannon, Marcus Jones * 80: Lawrence Dawsey, Michael Clayton * 81: Isaac Hagins, Phil Freeman, Jackie Harris, Jacquez Green * 84: Gordon Jones, Bruce Hill, Charles Wilson, Robb Thomas * 85: Morris Owens, Courtney Hawkins, Reidel Anthony, Ken Dilger * 88: Jimmie Giles, Mark Carrier, Horace Copeland
Okay, perhaps the Answer Man has overstated the case on a few of those numbers. For instance, despite the other fine names on the list, you pretty much have to give #32 to James Wilder, the franchiseï¿½s all-time leading rusher and receiver. And, looking at this list again, we feel pretty good about giving #7 to Gramatica, #12 to Williams, #14 to Johnson, #25 to Kelly, #53 to Quarles, #72 to Ahanotu and #75 to Reavis.
But there are some real battles here. The best kind is what you see at #88 or #34, where several very good players can lay good claims. We might never come up with a satisfactory answer for #88, in fact, given that it was shared by the (to this point) top tight end and top wide receiver in team history (Giles and Carrier, respectively). And #34 is just a scrum. Weï¿½d probably eliminate Tate for having too short of a career (two years), but do you favor the long-time franchise interception champ (Brown), the fourth-leading rusher in team history (Cobb) or the Super Bowl MVP (Jackson)?
The other kind of battle is what you see at, say, #51 or #85, where there is no true star running away with it. Broderick Thomas might seem like the favorite at 51, given his first-round draft status, but all four linebackers at that spot had good runs with the team. And #85 probably wonï¿½t go to Anthony, but Owens was the teamï¿½s first receiving threat, Hawkins had several fine years and Dilger was a Super Bowl starter. Tough choice.
And what do you say about #80? There are surprisingly few candidates at that popular number, and Clayton could easily make it his with a few more seasons like his 2004 debut. However, thatï¿½s the extent of Claytonï¿½s resume to this point, and Dawsey can also lay claim to a fantastic rookie campaign.
Also, while we rather blithely gave away that first list of numbers ï¿½ and we stick by those choices ï¿½ we should mention that there are some other fine former and current Bucs in such numbers as 20 (Neal Colzie), 40 (Mike Washington and Gary Anderson), 56 (Cecil Johnson) and 76 (Dave Pear and John Wade).
Anyway, thanks Zach for sending us into that little reverie with your question about Cadillac. And, seriously, Iï¿½ll have an answer for you in the next column. Now, on to the ones I did tackle this week.
First things first, Iï¿½m going to get to the four questions I punted the last two weeks. These guys have waited patiently for their answers (well, at least I assume they haveï¿½actually, for all I know they may have been screaming at their computer screens the last few weeks), so the Answer Man is going to do his best.
- First, thereï¿½s Mike from the suburbs of Philadelphia, who asks:
I'm half embarrassed to ask this question since the answer itself will not yield any real statistical or informational value to anyone. However, there is a little bit of Buccaneers history involved. Way back in the day, there was a movie that hit the theaters called Rocky II (Maybe you've heard of it). In this particular movie, there is a scene where our hero, Rocky Balboa, is sitting on the floor with his dog Butkus while watching the sports on his local news channel. In the sports report, they mention a dramatic 26-23 win by the L.A. Rams over none other than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers off of a Frank Corral field goal. If my research is correct, this game was played on November 11th, 1978 by the way. It's pretty neat that the Bucs were actually mentioned in a major motion picture. My question, as lame as it is, is this; have the Buccaneers ever been mentioned in another movie? Or, have any past or current players ever appeared in a movie?
Answer Man: Actually, Mike that game was played on November 5, 1978. It was indeed won, 26-23, by a Frank Corral field goal, a 27-yarder with three seconds left in regulation. Except for the final outcome, it was a pretty good game for the young Bucs who, in just their third season, nearly beat a division leader on the road. Tampa Bay rallied from two touchdowns down in the fourth quarter, tying the game with about a minute left when quarterback Mike Rae hit wide receiver J.K. McKay with a 23-yard strike. The game also included a 66-yard option pass from running back Louis Carter to wide receiver Morris Owens.
But the details of that game werenï¿½t your question. Itï¿½s the Bucs on the big screen you wanted to know about, and the Answer Man has dug up some interesting information. I canï¿½t reveal the sources who helped me with this one, but letï¿½s just say they have a deep knowledge of Buccaneer history and memories like elephants.
Now, I would never claim that this is an exhaustive list. I am certain there are other Buc appearances and mentions in the movies, and Iï¿½ll even print them if you fans out there send in other examples. But this is what I have for you today, Mike.
And, by the way, you shouldnï¿½t be embarrassed to ask this question. I think itï¿½s quite interesting.
One of the more memorable movies to give the Bucs a few nods was Cocoon. Director Ron Howard, who filmed much of the movie in our area, included Bucs paraphernalia on screen, and a few of the actors even came by One Buc Place, including Brian Dennehy.
Also, while the Running Scared characters played by Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines were passing time in Florida, they wore some Buc apparel.
In the recent surfing movie, Blue Crush, the male protagonist is an NFL quarterback named Matt Tollman, played by Matthew Davis. During the movie, Tollman mentions being memorably sacked by Warren Sapp. Iï¿½m told that Keyshawn Johnson is mentioned in Romeo Must Die, but I wasnï¿½t able to confirm that by press time or say for certain that it was during his time as a Buccaneer, and not a Jet.
Okay, the next few I have to admit that Iï¿½m lifting directly from my sources and I donï¿½t know how to confirm them. However, they are interesting in their minutiae.
Apparently, a former Bucs quarterbacks coach named Bill Nelsen and a former Bucs scout named Craig Fertig were students at USC when they managed to appear as extras in Spartacus and several other films. Also a former Buc linebacker named Mike Lemon once tried to get a minor part in a Lee Majors film called The Norsemen, thus earning the nickname ï¿½Hollywoodï¿½ among his teammates.
Okay, Mike, I have to admit that those are the only ones I could come up with. In a way, this is a frustrating question for the Answer Man, as I keep feeling as if there are a few more prominent examples just outside of the admittedly enhanced reach of my super-brain.
Thus, Iï¿½m leaving this up to the collective Buccaneer consciousness. I know, I knowï¿½Iï¿½ve had very poor luck with soliciting specific responses from you Buc fans out there, but Iï¿½m going to try one more time. If you have examples that add to my answer for Mike here, please send them in. Think about it; your answers will make a ready-made introduction for the Answer Manï¿½s next column, thus saving me countless hours of work.
- Graeme Reid of Blackwood, Scotland, UK:
I have some questions relating to player contracts/salary cap, etc. Hopefully you can find enough space on your page to answer them all. a. Between now and training camp, the Bucs will sign a whole string of players. Are these players paid in accordance with the contract they sign or do they have to make the final team before the salary kicks in? b. What happens to the salary cap figure when the roster numbers up to 80, prior to final cuts in training camp? c. If a player is cut mid-season, does the club have to honour the remainder of his contract or is the contract binned?
Answer Man: Space I got, Graeme. I can pretty much run this column as long as I want, though Iï¿½m sure readers are dropping off inch by inch. Itï¿½s a true challenge to make it to the end of one of my long-winded ramblings.
See, totally unnecessary paragraph right there. And here. Canï¿½t help myself.
Hereï¿½s another one: ï¿½Binned?ï¿½ I love that. I had to look it up to confirm that it meant ï¿½thrown away,ï¿½ as in ï¿½thrown in a bin.ï¿½ You donï¿½t hear that usage much on this side of the pond, though I like it and might add it to my own vocabulary. Thanks for that.
Okay, finally, on to the questions.
A. Players get paid during the offseason, but not their regular playing salaries. Most salaries are paid in game checks. That is, if a player is due to make $1.7 million this year, heï¿½s going to get $100,000 after each game, plus the bye week. Thatï¿½s simplifying things a bit, but itï¿½s basically true. A player can choose to receive his base salary at more regular intervals throughout the calendar year, but few of them do.
There are a couple ways a player makes money during the offseason. If he is just signed, as you mention, he may get a signing bonus, which is paid right away (again, simplifying things). Players working under existing contracts sometimes have roster bonuses that pay them at certain points during the offseason if they remain on the roster. Also, players are compensated for participating in the teamï¿½s offseason training program. They are paid on a weekly basis for that, provided that they make it to the required number of workouts.
The actual salary, though, doesnï¿½t kick in until the regular season and wonï¿½t be paid if the player is released before that.
B. During the offseason, a teamï¿½s salary cap number is figured using only the 51 players with the highest salaries. You can continue signing players all the way up to 80, or even 101, as the Bucs are at now with all their exemptions, and they will cost you real dollars, but they wonï¿½t impact the cap as long as they arenï¿½t one of the top 51 salaries.
C. In most cases, a player who is cut midseason will not receive the rest of his salary, because most NFL contracts are not guaranteed. On the other hand, releasing a player can sometimes hurt you rather than help you in terms of your salary cap, especially if the player originally had a large signing bonus and has several years left on his contract. The salary for that year comes off the books, but the accelerated portions of the signing bonus go on, and thatï¿½s often a bad tradeoff for the team.
- Logan of Fort Bragg, North Carolina:
**Hello from beautiful Fort Bragg! You know, you'd be surprised how many Bucs fans there are in the 82D Airborne Division. I've met close to two dozen since I've been here, and there's new soldiers coming in every week!
Anyway, pretty simple question that I'm way too lazy to look up. Team A has the ball on 3rd down, and the QB fumbles the ball. Team B recovers, then fumbles the ball again without making any forward progress. Team A then recovers the ball. 1st down, or 4th?**
Answer Man: Logan, Iï¿½m thinking that if youï¿½re on a military basis, youï¿½re probably not lazy. Still, Iï¿½m happy to help out any way I can.
And, yeah, this is a pretty easy one. The situation you described is technically two changes of possession, so Team A would be starting a new drive on the next play, and would thus have a first down. Whether or not the ball was advanced while in Team Bï¿½s possession is irrelevant. The key is the change of possession. If a loose ball goes in and out of various playersï¿½ hands but is not possessed by either team before finally being recovered by Team A, then it would be the next down, not a new possession.
Actually, the Answer Man may have spoken too fast, because this didnï¿½t prove as easy as I would hoped. I went searching for a good passage in the NFL Rulebook and itï¿½s companion piece, the Casebook, that would directly back up my statement in the above paragraph. For the life of me, I canï¿½t find one, and I have spent hours (seriously) poring over those two books.
Anyway, I did the next best thing and asked a pair of officials, who happened to be on site for one of the Bucsï¿½ practices this week. The issue here is what constitutes possession by the recovering team, as I think perhaps Logan as getting at when he says ï¿½without making any forward progress.ï¿½ The officials, after giving my cape and helmet a funny look, agreed that it was a judgment call and said that, if in that situation, they would be looking for the recovering player to make a ï¿½football move.ï¿½
So, if the player on Team B grabs the loose ball and takes a step, or perhaps covers up and tries to go to the ground, they would call that a change of possession. His subsequent fumble and then the recovery by Team A would be another change of possession.
- Dean Caffentzis of New Port Richey, Florida asks:
Dear Ever Mindful and Answerable One: When quarterbacks go into the huddle these days, they seem to have some sort of calculation device or computer on their wrist. It seems really odd because while the rest of the offense is in the huddle, the quarterback is some distance away checking his wristband to see what kind of a play he's supposed to call. I don't get it answer man, why wear a crazy wristband like that when they could have a really cool looking helmet like yours that emits static electricity?
Answer Man: Gee, the efforts to give me new suck-up titles are getting out of hand, arenï¿½t they?
Obviously, Dean is mostly joking around here, but I canï¿½t tell for sure if the basic question is a joke. On the off chance that you really donï¿½t know what that wrist thing is, Dean, Iï¿½m going to answer it.
That item that some quarterbacks wear on their non-throwing wrist is a card listing all of the plays he may have to call that day. It is usually encased in a special wristband that has a plastic panel in the front. This is allowed; wearing some type of computer device would not be allowed.
The quarterback gets the play before the huddle, either by watching for hand signals from the sideline, having it brought in by a substitute player or, as is usually the case these days, hearing it over his helmet radio. The play calls can be very long and complicated, however ï¿½ thatï¿½s certainly true in the Bucsï¿½ offense ï¿½ so a little cheat sheet helps the quarterback find the right call and pass it on to the rest of the team.
5a. Eli Joyce of Fort Myers, Florida asks:
Hey Answer Man, I am here to correct you on a statement you made in Series 2 Volume 15. There was a question about all of the UF alumni who played for the Bucs and you said the most recent player was Earnest Graham, but in fact youï¿½re wrong because you see the correct answer is the new Buccaneers WR Ike Hilliard, so I guess that means I am Answer Man. I guess youï¿½re going back to shining shoes in front of One Buc Place.
5b. Bridgette Sanders of Pensacola, Florida asks:
Hello Answer Man, This email is written in regards to your answer concerning the number of Florida Gators on the Tampa Bay roster. What about Byron "Bam" Hardmon whom Tampa Bay signed on April 4th and Ike Hilliard whom Tampa Bay signed on May 6th?
Answer Man: I'll get to you first, Eli. To quote Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty, ï¿½Oh, the ego.ï¿½
Will you be replacing the Answer Man? Donï¿½t quit your day job just yet.
As the real Answer Man has mentioned on several occasions, the only way a player appears on the Bucsï¿½ all-time roster ï¿½ that is, the list of every player in team history ï¿½ is to be on the active roster for at least one game during the regular season. That player doesnï¿½t have to actually play in the game, but he has to appear on the roster during the regular season.
Was that sufficiently italicized Eli? Ike Hilliard certainly will be on the Bucsï¿½ all-time roster soon, barring an unforeseen development, but heï¿½s not there yet. Let me be clear: I am not saying that Hilliard could, would, should or might get cut before the regular season. However, if that did happen, he would not join the ranks of former Gators-turned-Bucs.
And to think I changed all your ï¿½yoursï¿½ to ï¿½youï¿½res,ï¿½ just to be nice. And back in March I spent a great deal of time working on a question you sent in regarding onside kicks returned for touchdowns. (That was Series 2, Volume 9.)
Same answer for Bam Hardmon, Bridgette, but Iï¿½m not taking you to task because you asked nicely while Eli took a run at my job. By the way, I still have to shine the cleats even while Iï¿½m working on this gig. If youï¿½d like to help me with that, Eli, come on over. Leave the questions to me.
(By the way, there is a reader out there who may have truly stumped the Answer Man, and his name is Don P., from Provo, Utah. Don, I got your follow-up on the discussion about ï¿½intimidation blocksï¿½ and Iï¿½m doing a little extra research. Suffice it to say that I am humbled by the possibility I gave an incomplete or, gasp, incorrect answer. Expect a detailed response next week, after I have spoken to the proper authorities on the matter.)
- Salvador Perez of Miami, Florida asks:
Hey A-man! My friends and I play football every weekend. I just came back from one of those games and we were arguing whether a "yard" in football is really a yard. Like if a WR has 15 YAC did he really get 45 feet after the catch? When a player can run the 40 in 4.5 seconds, did he really run 120 feet in 4.5 seconds? And on the field if the distance from one of the little white lines to the other is a "yard" how come when they place the football down it pretty much touches a white line on both ends? A football is not 3 feet long! And is a football field from goal line to goal line (100 yards) really 300 feet? Please clear up our yardage problem, O great one.
Answer Man: Salvador, that question strikes me as bizarreï¿½and interesting. I think our brains work differently, you and I, because I never thought to question whether a yard was really a yard. If the NFL is saying a field is 100 yards and itï¿½s not really 100 yards, then on what else are they misleading us. Is the crossbar not really 10 feet up? Is the football not really leather? Was Kurt Warner really an alien, as NFL.comï¿½s Gregg Easterbrook has claimed on several occasions?
Well, thereï¿½s no conspiracy here, Salvador. Yes, a yard really means three feet in football. Many, many NFL players can run 120 feet in 4.5 seconds. And youï¿½ve got to run 300 feet if youï¿½re going to go coast-to-coast for a touchdown.
That part about the footballï¿½I donï¿½t know what to tell you. Optical illusion? Iï¿½m not making this up ï¿½ just to be thorough I walked out to the practice field behind One Buc Place and put a football down with a nose on one of the hash marks. It didnï¿½t come close to touching the next line; no, a football is not three feet long. It is approximately one foot long.
- Graysen of Ft. Myers, Florida asks:
I was looking up players that held Tampa Bay records, and Lee Roy Selmon was a name that kept popping up. Of course I know who he is, itï¿½s just he seems weird to me. Not him, but stuff I found out about him. At an official NFL page, it says that over 9 seasons, he acquired 23 sacks, and 0 tackles. I was just wondering if these stats were true, why he only played for 9 seasons, and why he was admitted to the Hall Of Fame?
Answer Man: My question in turn, Graysen, is what is this ï¿½officialï¿½ NFL page to which you refer. Those stats are not only wildly inaccurately, theyï¿½re pretty dang impossible. How could a player have 23 sacks but no tackles?
Selmon holds the Buccaneersï¿½ career records in both sacks (78.5) and forced fumbles (28.5). The first draft pick in franchise history, he played in 121 games with 117 starts and racked up 742 tackles and 10 fumble recoveries. While the tackles and forced fumbles are unofficial statistics, the 78.5 sacks ï¿½ not 23 ï¿½ are a matter of NFL record.
Selmon played only nine seasons because, unfortunately, he sustained a herniated disk in his back at the end of the 1984 season and was forced to retire after sitting out all of 1985. The Buccaneers retired his jersey on September 7, 1986, and it remains the only number officially retired by the team.
Had Selmon not seen his career prematurely ended by injury, he probably would have reached triple digits in sacks. He had 11 sacks in 1983 and another eight in 1984, his last two years. The 1984 season, in fact, was one of his best, with 100 tackles and 4.5 forced fumbles to go with those eight sacks. He set a career high with 13 sacks in 1977 and followed up with 11 each the next two years.
In 1979, Selmon was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year, an honor later won by Buccaneers Warren Sapp (1999) and Derrick Brooks (2002). He played in six consecutive Pro Bowls.
Furthermore, Selmon, who originally hails from Oklahoma, has made his home in Tampa and been a pillar in the community for many years. In 1995, he became the first Buccaneer ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Thatï¿½s not an easy honor to win, and it seems obvious that Selmon was enormously respected by his contemporaries. His sack numbers, while very good, might not have been enough in themselves to get him into the Hall, but foes remember him as one of the most difficult linemen to block ever. He also was ï¿½ and is ï¿½ very well-liked, the kind of player who would sack the quarterback and then help him back to his feet.
- Christopher of Tampa, Florida asks:
My question is about the draft, I know itï¿½s a bit late to ask and you may have answered a question like this already but why do you think the Bucs didnï¿½t draft Mike Nugent when they had the chance?
Answer Man: Well, Chris, letï¿½s first define what that chance was for the Buccaneers.
Nugent was drafted by the Jets in the middle of the second round in April, going 47th overall. By that point, the Bucs had made two picks, selecting running back Cadillac Williams with the fifth overall choice and taking linebacker Barrett Ruud with the fourth pick of the second round, 36th overall.
Now, I doubt anyone out there would argue that the Bucs should have drafted Nugent, or any kicker, with the fifth overall pick, where they took Williams. Iï¿½m going to assume that includes you, Chrisï¿½that is, youï¿½re not arguing that Nugent should have been the Bucsï¿½ first-round pick.
In the last 40 years, only four kickers have been drafted in the first round, and most of those were mid to late in the round. Sebastian Janikowski went 17th overall to Oakland in 2000, Russell Erxleben went 11th overall to New Orleans in 1979 and Steve Little went 15th overall to the then-St. Louis Cardinals in 1978. The highest pick used on a kicker was the sixth overall selection in 1966, which Washington spent on Charlie Gogolak.
Now, itï¿½s worth noting that while Janikowski has worked out well in Oakland and Gogolak had a few good years in Washington and New England, Erxleben and Little were notable draft busts. Every team would like to have a money kicker like Adam Vinatieri, but itï¿½s difficult to predict which prospects will develop into such a player in the NFL; thatï¿½s one of the reasons kickers rarely get drafted in the opening rounds.
Even the fourth pick of the second round would have been extremely high for any kicker. Before Nugent, Janikowski was the only kicker taken in the first two rounds in the last 12 drafts. In 1992, the Detroit Lions nabbed Jason Hanson with the 28th pick of the second round (56th overall) and in 1988, the Redskins used the same pick in the second round (and 55th overall) to take Chip Lohmiller. Both of those worked out, but second-rounder John Lee did not pan out for the Cardinals in 1986, and you have to go back to Erxleben and Little to find the next kickers in the opening two rounds.
My point with all of that, Chris, is to suggest that kickers very rarely get taken in the first two rounds, and for good reason. Therefore, I donï¿½t find it unusual at all that the Buccaneers took Williams first and Ruud second.
Would the Bucs have gone after Nugent in the third round had he still been available. Who knows? The Answer Man doesnï¿½t, and thatï¿½s the kind of thing that stays in the draft room. But we should note that the Bucs did have two third-round picks to work with, and they had been willing to use a third-rounder on a kicker in 1999, when they took Martin Gramatica.
And it seems as if everyone agrees that Nugent was the best kicker available. The Bucs got a close-up look at him at the Senior Bowl, though he was on the other team. Maybe Tampa Bay was interested in Nugent, maybe it wasnï¿½t. But to answer your question, Iï¿½m not sure the Bucs did have that reasonable a chance at getting him.
- Andrew Pearson of Pennville, Indiana asks:
Which Buccaneer players have scored the most touchdowns, picked off the most passes, and forced the most fumbles?
Answer Man: Ah, Andrew, if only all of my readers were compelled to ask such straightforward questions. This is the kind of e-mail the Answer Man can handle with his right hand while feeding the youngest Answerling his mashed bananas with the left.
Actually, Iï¿½m happy to tell you that you could find two-thirds of the answer to your question right here on Buccaneers.com by visiting the team records section. The first thing youï¿½ll see on this page is a list of all-time Buccaneer leaders in 12 different statistical categories, including touchdowns and interceptions.
In fact, though they are listed as ï¿½leaders,ï¿½ the lists for the rushing, passing, receiving, scoring, kick returns, punt returns and interceptions categories are actually all-inclusive. That is, click on ï¿½scoringï¿½ and youï¿½ll get an updated list of every player ever to score a point for the Buccaneers, from all-time scoring leader Martin Gramatica (591 points) down to one-point cameo men Ray Criswell, Chris Mohr, Dave Warnke and George Yarno. There are also top 10 lists for games, starts, touchdowns, tackles and sacks.
The Answer Man doesnï¿½t need these lists to answer your question, though, Andrew (although youï¿½ll have to take my word on that). The Bucsï¿½ all-time leader in touchdowns is fan-favorite fullback Mike Alstott, who has blasted his way into the end zone 61 times. Alstott has a healthy lead in that category in Buc annals, as James Wilder is next at 46 and Jimmie Giles is third at 34.
The all-time leader in interceptions is former Buc cornerback Donnie Abraham, now a New York Jet. Abraham had 31 picks from 1996-2001, just edging past Cedric Brownï¿½s long-standing mark of 29. The leader among current Buccaneers is Ronde Barber, with 23.
As I said, that only covers two-thirds of your question. You also asked for the all-time leader in forced fumbles, and thatï¿½s not a list maintained on the site. Actually, you wonï¿½t find it strictly maintained anywhere, in part because forced fumbles are not an official statistic. Still, the Answer Man knows who it is, and Iï¿½m guessing youï¿½ve heard the name (perhaps even in this column): Lee Roy Selmon. As I alluded to in my answer to question number seven above, Selmon still owns the Bucsï¿½ career record for forced fumbles, at 28.5. (Yes, team statisticians used to split hairs on forced fumbles on occasions, the way they still do on sacks.)
As adept as some linebacker and defensive backs are at stripping the ball, it is usually the defensive linemen who rack up multiple forced fumbles in a season. They are more likely to hit an opposing ballcarrier (read: quarterback) when he is unaware, which is the best way to cause a fumble. Selmon was awfully good at getting to the quarterback faster than expected.
- Brian of Brandywine Maryland asks:
A friendly argument between a coworker and I comparing Derrick Brooks and Ray Lewis with my coworker claiming Lewis as an all-world and claimed Brooks will have a heard time getting into the hall of fame. After reviewing your Series 2, Volume 15, Brooks has been selected seven times to the first and second team all-pro list while Lewis has only six to his resume. Has there ever been a distinction between all-pro and all-world and which player would you put above the other?
Answer Man: Brian, the Answer Man, who is not really supposed to be sharing his opinions on players, has made thinly-veiled comments about Brooksï¿½ place in the game in the past, and I guess Iï¿½ll be more straightforward here and hope I keep my job.
Derrick Brooks is a good bet for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. If I can base that on one note, it is the following. Only five players in NFL history have done each of the following: Earned eight Pro Bowl bids, won a Super Bowl and been named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Those five are Jack Lambert, Mike Singletary, Lawrence Taylor, Reggie White and ï¿½ yes ï¿½ Derrick Brooks.
Is anybody arguing with the Hall of Fame credentials of Lambert, Singletary, Taylor or White. Of course not. Simply put, there is nothing Brooksï¿½ candidacy is missing. He has the numbers ï¿½ his six defensive touchdowns are particularly impressive and make up for the fact that his sack total is low thanks to rarely being used to blitz. He has the championship. He has the awards. And, having already played 10 seasons and showing he has quite a few more left in him, heï¿½ll have the career longevity.
Whoï¿½s better? Now that is definitely not for Answer Man to say. It says here that both men will end up in the Hall of Fame. Brooks has been one of the best outside linebackers of his generation; Lewis may be the standard at middle linebacker in the same span. Which player you think is better is probably going to come down to whether the jerseys in your closet or purple and black or pewter and red.
As for your co-workerï¿½s argument, I confess that I donï¿½t know what he means by ï¿½all-world.ï¿½ I think that is just a common, catch-all phrase used to describe superstar athletes, but I donï¿½t think it refers to anything in particular. Lewis definitely has all-pro and Pro Bowl honors dotting his resume, like Brooks, but I donï¿½t think there is a specific ï¿½all-worldï¿½ accolade he has that Brooks doesnï¿½t.
- Bob Lang of Port Charlotte, Florida asks:
I recently read an article where the sportswriter referred to the NFC South as a "weak" division. I suspect that this opinion persists because the NFC South was considered by most to be weak at the time of the realignment. Can you recap for us the recent performance of the NFC South versus the rest of the league and its post season successes?
Answer Man: ï¿½I suspect that this opinion persists because the NFC South was considered by most to be weak at the time of the realignment.ï¿½
Couldnï¿½t have said it any better myself, Bob. In fact, I probably would have taken two paragraphs to say the same thing, less succinctly.
The best note regarding the strength of the South is probably the one that describes the end of the season. In the three seasons since the latest realignment, the NFC South has sent three teams to the conference championship game, earned two Super Bowl berths and won one league championship (Da Bucs!).
The NFC East has three conference championship appearances, thanks to one team, but only one Super Bowl berth and no titles. Neither the North nor the West has sent a team as far as the conference championship game since realignment.
In the AFC, we may have to cede superiority to the East, thanks to the New England Patriots. Solely on the Patsï¿½ achievements, the AFC East has two conference championship appearances, two Super Bowl berths and two titles since the realignment (and one more of each right before realignment). The AFC South has two conference championship appearances, but no Super Bowl berths. The AFC West has one conference championship game appearance and one Super Bowl berth, while the AFC North has one championship game appearance. No titles for any of those last three divisions.
Since Atlanta, Carolina, New Orleans and Tampa Bay were put together in 2002, they have collectively fared very well against the rest of the NFL, particularly the NFC. Here are the NFC South combined records against the other divisions (regular season only) from 2002-04:
- NFC East: 16-8 * NFC West: 15-9 * NFC North: 14-10 * AFC East: 0-0 * AFC West: 6-10 * AFC North: 10-5-1 * AFC South: 5-11
Most analysts have considered the AFC to be the stronger conference in recent years, and those numbers seem to agree. The 10-5-1 record against the North was compiled in 2002, when those two divisions were pitted against each other; the last two years, the NFC South hasnï¿½t fared as well against the West and the South.
But the NFC teams play each other regularly every year, and the South has been anything but weak. The NFC East always seems to have the reputation, but the Bucs and their mates have had the easiest time against that division. The stiffest competition has come from the North.
Hope thatï¿½s what you were looking for, Bob. Together, I think weï¿½ve proved a little point. Hopefully, if the Bucs can rebound a bit this fall, the South will once again be the leagueï¿½s best division.
- Euan Hendry of Leslie, Fife Scotland asks:
o' dear Answer Man my question is about challenges. Say the play is called as a fumble; however there is also a holding called on the play. Does the holding call cancel out the ability to challenge the play? Thanks.
Answer Man: Oï¿½ dear Euan, the answer is no.
Penalties on the team that wishes to challenge a play do not remove that teamï¿½s right to a challenge. If Iï¿½m glomming your scenario right, youï¿½re saying Team A has fumbled the ball, with Team B recovering, and on the same play a flag has been thrown on Team A for holding.
Now, in that scenario, Team B will refuse the holding penalty, because accepting it causes the snap to be replayed and the turnover would be eliminated. However, in this case, Team A has looked at the replay on the network broadcast and decided that their fumbling player was down before he lost the ball. They throw the red flag, and they are allowed to do so, despite the holding penalty.
Letï¿½s say the referee reviews the play and upholds the challenge, giving the ball back to Team A at the spot the player was down. Even though they had previously refused the penalty and the referee had pocketed his flag, Team B does now get the opportunity to accept the penalty, and probably would.
Penalties can, however, keep your team from getting the ball back on a turnover play, and this actually happened to the Buccaneers the last time they were on the playing field.
In Arizona last January, playing the 2004 season finale, the Bucs had the ball on the Cardinalsï¿½ 24 when DT Darnell Dockett intercepted a Chris Simms pass and started towards the left sideline. Close to midfield, T Kenyatta Walker tried to tackle Dockett and ended up ripping his helmet off and drawing a facemask penalty. Farther downfield, WR Joe Jurevicius caused Dockett to fumble and RB Michael Pittman recovered for the Buccaneers. It would have been Bucs ball at their own 16, but the penalty on Walker during the return meant Arizona was able to retain possession.
Of course, now Iï¿½m not only long-winded but also repetitive, as I made that same point back in January in Series 2, Volume 1. Call it ï¿½The Answer Manï¿½s Greatest Hits.ï¿½ (Hey, now thereï¿½s an idea!)
- Richard Schilling Breinigsville, Pennsylvania asks:
Hey, bud (Oh, how casual our relationship has become.). Back when you posted your Buccaneers.com edition of this column, you challenged us to find the two players' whose middle names were used to create one of the fictional names used in the column. Having devoted every minute to finding the answer I submitted (Warren Carlos Sapp Hardy Otto Nickerson = Carlos Otto), I have eagerly awaited the conclusion of that challenge. However, I have seen no such thing. Is it coming soon?
Answer Man: Hey, Rico. ï¿½Sup?
Did I forget to post that answer. Sorry. I got several responses with the answer as part of the question, and I guess I thought I had posted one of them. This far into the column, Iï¿½m too lazy to go back and see if I did, so I decided to post your letter. Looking back, I said I would post the ï¿½snappiestï¿½ response with the right answer, so I guess thatï¿½s you, Mr. Snappy.
Yes, thatï¿½s the right answer. Call ï¿½em Warren and Hardy (not Warren G. Harding) or Carlos and Otto, but I was referring to Monsieurs Sapp and Nickerson. Thatï¿½s impressive research on your partï¿½and my apologies to the others who sent in the right answer and neglected to see your names on the screen.
Alright, letï¿½s handle a few quickies before wrapping it up.
- Jack Hughes of Clearwater, Florida asks:
OH Great Answer Man!!! I know you answered this before and I know you do not like to constantly repeat yourself, but I was wondering if you could tell me the paint colors for the Buccaneers Pewter and Red. My wife and I just found out that we are pregnant with twin boys and we want to do the nursery in a Bucs theme, but I am having a hard time matching the colors especially the Bucs Pewter. I thank you so much in advance for taking your time to answer my question. I love reading you column.
Answer Man: So, Jack, you know the answer is there in a previous column but think it would be faster to ask it again rather than search the archive? That tells the Answer Man that a new type of archive is needed, and your letter gave me the inspiration.
Coming soon, an Answer Man index of answered topics, listed alphabetically. Instead of searching through the columns to find the one that has your answer, youï¿½ll be able to scroll down a list of specific topics ï¿½ in this case, Buccaneer colors ï¿½ and just click on that link. Good idea, no?
Anyway, hereï¿½s where you can see my original answer on that topic, in Series 2, Volume 8. Scroll to Question 10 for the answer.
- Noel of Arcadia, Florida asks:
When is fan day this year!! I love it!!!!!!
Answer Man: Ah, yes, it wouldnï¿½t be a complete Answer Man column if we didnï¿½t get this one in there at least once. What are we going to do AFTER June 4? (Answer: Rehash the ï¿½when does training camp startï¿½ question each week.)
Noel, I should say that Iï¿½m glad youï¿½re excited about FanFest. It is just a week away, on Saturday, June 4 at Raymond James Stadium. Click here for more information.
- Willie of Tampa, Florida asks:
Hi, when do the Bucs open camp in Orlando?
Answer Man: See? Willie, the Bucs will report to camp on Thursday, July 28 and begin practice on the morning of Friday, July 29. Check back on Buccaneers.com in July for a more detailed schedule of practice dates and times, but you can count on two practices a day almost every day during the first two weeks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon at Disneyï¿½s Wide World of Sports Complex.
- Willie Wilson of Fort Wayne, Indiana asks:
What was James Wilderï¿½s jersey number?
Answer Man: 32.
- Luca Pasculli of Brussels, Belgium asks:
Yo answer man, I was wondering how a QB gets a specific QB-rating. Can you give me the answer?
Answer Man: First of all, Luca, I must correct you on your terminology. The stat in question is called a ï¿½passer rating,ï¿½ not a ï¿½QB rating.ï¿½ This is an important distinction, as some critics think the number can overshadow some of the other qualities of a quarterback that are not included in that statistic, such as mobility, decision-making and leadership.
Still, it has proven to be a very useful metric, and I first touched on it in Volume 14 last fall. The most basic answer is that it takes four passing numbers ï¿½ completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdowns per attempt and interceptions per attempt ï¿½ and plugs them into a formula, producing a single number on a scale that goes from zero up to 158.6.
- Jeff Wight of Chicago, Illinois asks:
This question is in regards to the way a sack is recorded in the stat book. When a player sacks the QB does that player receive just a sack in the stat column, or does he also receive credit for a tackle?
Answer Man: Good question, Jeff. When a player tackles a quarterback in the backfield on a passing play, he is given credit for a tackle and a sack. In effect, a sack is a special tackle, one that also fits into another category. In the same way, a pick counts as both an interception and a pass defensed.
Okay, thatï¿½s it for this week. As I mentioned in the course of this column, Don of Provo and Zach of Salem, Indiana have answers coming to them next week, as do many other Buccaneer fans who took the time to submit questions. The Answer Man should say that the olï¿½ e-mailbag is bursting at the seams again, so if you sent in a question in recent days, it may be some time until I get to them. Please bear with me, and thanks for all the great questions.