Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Answer Man, Series 2, Vol. 17

The fans chime in with their Bucs-in-the-movies references, and then the Answer Man gets down with such topics as intimidation blocks and practice schedules

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Finally, you answer!

The Answer Man is no longer howling into the void, having found a way to successfully poll his audience. The key is the topic; you don't want to write in about your location or your New Year's resolutions, but movies? Now we can talk.

Last week I provided a fairly limited response to Mike, a fan from the suburbs of Philly who wanted to know of any Tampa Bay Buccaneer references in the movies, beyond the one he had seen in Rocky II. At the end of my response, feeling as if there was at least one movie out there nagging at my brain, I suggested that you, the faithful readers, fill in the blanks.

If you knew of a Buc reference in the movies, I beseeched you, please send it along and I'd print it (in the process getting the benefit of a ready-made intro to my column…which you are now reading!). Properly beseeched, you responded. Turns out there are quite a few Bucs-in-the-movies that I missed.

Like this one from RJ Lennox of London, Ontario, Canada:

"This is in response to your answer about Buc player in movies. Last year as you know Matt O'Dwyer played for the good guys. What you probably don't know is that in 2001 he had a cameo as a bouncer in the Jon Favreau directed movie 'Made.' It starred Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn. Also in O'Dwyer's scene there is a funny cameo by Dustin Diamond portraying his famous Screech character from 'Saved By The Bell.' I am very happy that you didn't mention this movie cause now I finally have a piece of Buc trivia that you don't know! (Which is definitely a first.)"

As you'll see, RJ, there are apparently tons of movie (and other media) Buc references that the Answer Man was unaware of. I'm going to print all of them, though trimming them down to the relevant parts, below. I originally intended to verify each of the submissions I received with personal screenings, but I didn't realize there would be this many. So take these with a grain of salt…this is from one Buc fan to another.

Also, if you sent in a movie reference AND a question, you may still find your question below, separately. And thanks to everyone for providing the ready-made intro I was so hoping to get this week!

Okay, here were your movie (and other media) finds:

Clinton of Tampa, Florida: "I was playing [the video game] Vice City, which is set in Florida, and I was listening to the radio station [on the game] 'KCHAT' and there was some football player and he says he wants to come out of retirement to the NFL because he misses the mean crowds of Green Bay and Tampa."

Dan Kropf of Dover, Delaware: "There was the rather high profile movie 'The Punisher' in which John Lynch had a cameo. I believe another Buc was in the same scene, but can't recall. It's a good excuse to watch a really koool movie again, though. I'll do the research, as painful as it might be, and let you know if I find more. [Answer Man's note: I almost included 'The Punisher' in my original answer, as it is set in Tampa, but I haven't seen the movie personally and I was told the Bucs' parts were edited out. Perhaps I was wrong about that.]

Glen Allen of Short Pump, Virginia: "In the otherwise forgettable waste of celluloid 'Superman IV: The Quest for Peace,' we visit Clark Kent's apartment and find a Tampa Bay Buccaneers pennant!" [Answer Man's note: Three things here. 1) This was my favorite of all the movie finds, so random but so perfect. 2) There was a 'Superman IV?' Egads, I must have purposely exorcised it from my memory. And 3) Yes, other readers, there really is a Short Pump, Virginia. Population of 182 as of the 2000 census, close to Richmond, just opened the Short Pump Town Center in 2003.]

Jay Ehrhart of Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman Island: "'She Hate Me' has a seen with Warren Sapp as a Buc (not a Raider). The movie 'She Hate Me' was written by Michael Genet and Spike Lee based on a story by Mr. Genet. It is not a scene for children frankly, but he made the movie. [Answer Man's note: Jay also asked if the "Chucky" movies count. Answer: No.]

John of Tampa, Florida: "There was a football movie that mentioned Tampa Bay, but never actually spoke of the Bucs. The movie was 'The Last Boy Scout' with Bruce Willis. The senator was on TV and he said that he is going to enjoy watching his team beat Tampa Bay."

Steve Coker of Sarasota, Florida: Theo Bell – 'Fighting Back' - the Rocky Bleier story; Steve Courson – 'Fighting Back' - the Rocky Bleier story; Joey Galloway – 'Air Bud.' Abe Gibron – 'Brian's Song.' (I hadn't heard or thought of Abe in 20 years, but visualized his mug instantly when I saw his name, and recalled him fondly.) Mazio Royster – 'The Waterboy,' 'Any Given Sunday.' Rick Moser – 'Fighting Back, Dazed and Confused.' [Answer Man: As he was kind enough to share, Steve found these by doing a search on IMDB.com. IMDB: Internet Movie Database. Actually, Steve, I tried the same thing before my column and just tried it again now and I'm not coming up with the same results. You are obviously a more sophisticated database searcher than the Answer Man.]

Tim Brown of New Port Richey, Florida: "Back in the late 80's there was a movie called 'Warlock' It starred Julian Sands as a warlock. There is a scene where the warlock approaches a child at a playground who is playing a handheld football video game. The kid asks the warlock if he wants to try and hands it to him. The warlock pushed a button and the kid exclaimed 'you punted on 1st down? Not even Tampa Bay does that.'"

[Answer Man's note: Oh, really, because the way this guy tells it…]

Scott Sparenberg of Tampa, Florida: "The Bucs had a quick but dubious reference in the movie 'Prophecy' staring Christopher Walken. Walken's character has just arrived here from heaven, I believe, and is listening to this young boy talk about football. The boy asks Walken what he would do in a 1st-and-10 situation (or something like that). Walken answers 'punt,' and the boy says, 'even Tampa Bay wouldn't do that.'"

[Answer Man's note: That has to be a mistake on either Tim or Steve's part, right? That same exchange couldn't possibly happen in two different movies, could it? Unless some producer/director/screenwriter out there really has it out for the Buccaneers. I found a reference to the quote from 'Warlock' on IMDB.com, and it's pretty much as Tim claims. There's a long list of quotes from 'Prophecy,' too, but nothing regarding the Buccaneers. Gotta put my money on Timmy and Warlock here.]

Paul Stewart of London, UK: "Former Bucs strike QB Mike Hold played the Michigan QB in the James Caan film 'The Programme.' Former RB Mazio Royster was in 'Any Given Sunday'. As was former DT Pat Toomay (he played Dick Butkus' assistant coach). And of course, he also wrote the book." [Answer Man's note: Though he's based across the pond – note the alternate spelling of 'The Program,' - Paul has an outstanding Buc history site at www.bucpower.com. Check it out some time. This note is indicative of his knowledge of franchise minutiae.]

Those are all of your submissions. A handful of readers also sent in reminders about the Ricky Bell made-for-TV movie, "A Triumph of the Heart," but I just didn't feel it fit the category. The original question was about mentions of the Buccaneers or Buccaneer cameos in a movie unrelated to the Buccaneers. You can count it if you wish.

I still believe there are more out there, so if you think of any more, send them in and we'll keep the topic open.

Dang, 300 more words and I could have just called the column quits right there. I happen to know my editor only hits the scroll bar two or three times, so he'd never get past 1,500 words. But, alas, I must move on to your questions.

Oh well, that is the Answer Man's purpose in life.

**

  1. Zach Morris of Salem, Indiana asks:

Hey Answer Man, I don't mean to bombard you with the whole "what number is Cadillac wearing?" question. I know from your last post that he is indeed wearing number 24. My question is... a few weeks back he was in the post-draft Sports Illustrated. He was featured on a two-page picture with Ronnie Brown. But my question is why in that picture is he wearing the #30? I was just kinda curious. Thanks.

Answer Man: I told you in last week's column that I would track Cadillac down for this answer, Zach, and I did just that.

Here's the most important thing you should know about that shot: It was taken a week before the draft. As you probably saw, a lot of draft analysts predicted that Williams would end up in Tampa and his Auburn teammate, Brown, would be taken by the Miami Dolphins. Sports Illustrated ran with those predictions, shooting the picture you saw in their post-draft issue.

Of course, they had a back-up plan, as they took a second shot with both players in their Auburn jerseys. Had either back not gone to the predicted team, they probably would have used the alternate shot.

But why #30 on Caddy? I mean, that wasn't his number at Auburn, it wasn't the number the Bucs' first assigned him (22) and it wasn't the #1 jersey first-round picks are often given on the spot.

Well, in this case, it was just what the SI people could find. They just went out and bought one, and that the 30 didn't mean anything. I agree with Zach, though; that was the first thing that really caught my eye in that picture.

**

  1. Don P. of Provo, Utah asks:

**Oh Great and Knowledgeable Answering One,

I think I may have stumped you, and I have to admit I never thought that would happen. I sent in a question, which you answered in Series 2 Vol. 14 asking about "Intimidation Blocks." Perhaps you read over the question quickly, or perhaps your source (the scouts) just lump them together with "knockdowns" for their purposes of analyzing a player. If you read over my question you'll notice I asked indirectly what was the difference between an Intimidation and a Knockdown. Some coaches and teams obviously make a distinction between the two. These are two quotes from Clemson's official website "had an 85-percent grade to go with eight knockdowns, including three intimidation blocks, against North Carolina" and "had at least one knockdown block in every game, and a team-best 10 intimidation blocks." I understand that since this is a coach-kept stat that the requirements would not be the same from team to team, but I still don't think they are always one and the same. I could just ask the answer guy on ESPN Magazine, since he is so "big time," but I am sure that you will come through for me. If I did stump you, do I win some kind of prize? If so I would love anything Buc oriented, even if it is just shoe polish.

P.S. I like "Pancake" better too.**

Answer Man: Don, isn't embarrassing the Answer Man with his inadequate answer enough? Do you have to resort to the threat of going to another source?

Just kidding. I think you are handling the fact that you half-stumped me quite gently. And let me say this: I wasn't totally wrong. I just wasn't thorough enough. Here's an excerpt of what I wrote for your original question:

"So here's the story on intimidation blocks: it's just another phrase for "knockdown blocks." That's the consensus opinion of the Buccaneers' scouts, who see these bios and scouting reports all the time. The phrase seems a little silly to the Answer Man, but on the other hand, it's only fair that these offensive linemen get some statistics of their own. That kind of thing isn't kept on the pro level, but it is a staple of every offensive lineman's scouting report."

As you note above, however, the bio writer clearly makes a distinction between the two types of blocks, and now I know what it is. Put it this way: An "intimidation block" is a subset of the "knockdown block." It is, in effect, a knockdown block taken to the next level.

How do I know this? Well, I just got on the dang phone and called Clemson. It seemed clear from the links I could find that the phrase originated in that school's athletic department. I spoke to an athletic director there who cleared up my confusion.

A knockdown block, as Don and probably many of my readers know, is one in which the offensive lineman actually knocks the defender off his feet. That is obviously a very successful way to block a defensive lineman, and not an easy thing to do at all.

Now, an intimidation block is one that displays, in the words of my Clemson source, "total domination." If, on the game tape, you see your lineman drive the defender off the ball with ease and basically throw him about like a rag doll, you give him an intimidation block. If you knock a guy down and the first thing that hits the ground is his helmet, that's an intimidation block. At Clemson, every intimidation block also counts as a knockdown block. Think of it in a similar way as you would a sack; every sack is a tackle, but not all tackles are sacks.

The fine folks at Clemson use the term for the same reason that schools have long included the phrase "pancake block" in the bios. Basically, it's to give those hardworking offensive linemen some stats. The lack of stats on the OL has always been a fact of life for the big men up front, but creative coaches and sports information men have found ways to quantify their performances.

Alright, so are we good now, Don? I'll give you credit for semi-stumping me with the original question, if you'll give me credit for thoroughly tracking down the final answer.

**

  1. Jill of Seattle, Washington asks:

Just curious - once regular season play starts, what's a player's week like? Do they train every day other than game days? How do the coaches decide what's enough and what's too much practice/training for keeping the players in ideal condition?

Answer Man: Jill, that question is just plain excellent. It is important, as you obviously understand, to strike the right balance between adequate preparation and overworking an athlete who must perform for three long hours on Sunday. Most coaches have hit upon schedules in which they believe through experience, and they stick to them fanatically. The Bucs haven't released their training camp schedule, for instance, but you could get an incredibly close approximation by checking out the ones for last year, or the year before.

Your question is about the regular season, though. There are obviously differences in how various staffs around the league arrange their schedules, and playing on Monday, Thursday or Saturday can throw things out of whack, but most teams follow a similar weekly progression. For a Sunday home game, it will look something like this:

Monday – Players report for treatment, light workouts, light running, brief team meeting where the film of the previous game is reviewed. Tuesday - Players get the entire day off. Some may come to the facility for injury treatment. Wednesday - A full day of meetings, workouts and practice. The Buccaneers generally meet in the morning, have a walk-through, have lunch, meet some more and then run their full-scale practice in the late afternoon. Thursday - Just like Wednesday. By the end of this day, the offensive and defensive game plans should be fully installed. Friday - Sort of like Wednesday and Thursday, but shorter and more focused on review of what has been installed the last two days. Practice is shorter by about 30 minutes and the players leave the building earlier. Saturday - The team gathers in the morning for brief meetings and a short walk-through on the field, usually no more than 30-40 minutes. In the evening, the players and coaches report to the team hotel, where there is another round of meetings and film work, followed by curfew, usually around 11:00 p.m. In between the walk-through and the hotel reporting time, players have the day off.

By the way, Jill, you may know this, but a 'walk-through' is a slowed-down practice focused solely on making sure each player knows what he is doing on each play. The players don't wear pads, and they just jog through their routes; the defense doesn't really try to break up any play.

During the week, a player's schedule is sort of like a traditional work week, though they usually report pretty early and sometimes get out before five. Some players choose to stay longer on their own for more film work, or additional treatment for injuries. Coaches work into the night on film review and game-planning long after the players are gone. As for figuring out the right amount of work to give a player, another factor that plays into it is injuries. Coaches prefer that all their players practice when the game plans are being installed, but sometimes key men have to take it easy during the week in order to be ready by game time.

Obviously, road games add travel into the mix. The Buccaneers usually leave for the other city on Saturday, around noon. There is an NFL rule that the visiting team must be in the city where the game is being played by 24 hours before kickoff, though it is rarely enforced to the hour. Too, on some West Coast trips, the Bucs choose to leave on Friday.

**

  1. Luca Pasculli of Brussels, Belgium asks:

Hi answer man, this time I was wondering where this year's Bucs training camp would be. I would also like to know if the new letter-type of the numbers (on the practice jerseys)would also be used on the regular jerseys that the mighty Bucs will wear this year? (Thanks for putting me on the last edition by the way.)

Answer Man: I would have normally put your leadoff question at the bottom in the quickies section, but I did that to you last time, Luca, and plus you have an interesting follow-up question at the end.

The Bucs will once again hold training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, near Orlando. All practices are free and open to the public. And because somebody is bound to ask for the dates, know this: The team will report for training camp on Thursday, July 28. The first practice will be on the morning of Friday, July 29. Though the full daily schedule has not yet been released, there are usually two practices almost every day for the first two weeks.

As for the jersey numbers, which I assume you have seen in the practice section of the Buccaneers.com photo archive those are just for the practice field. The numbers play off the font the team uses in its logotype, but is probably a little too fancy to be used on game day. They might be difficult to read from the press box, where scouts and stat men are trying to record every player's every move.

**

  1. Rob of Valrico, Florida asks:

Based on today's passing rating, which QB in Tampa's team history has had the highest career rating?

Answer Man: The first thing I should point out to you, Rob, is that there is a list of all the players who have thrown a pass in team history right here on Buccaneers.com. Click here to visit that page, which is in our records section.

You will notice right away, if you go there, that the passers are sorted by their all-time yardage totals, which is the traditional way to rank a group of passers. However, you'll also see their passer ratings in the right-most column, and it's not hard to see who stands out.

Even if you don't go to that page, I'm willing to be that you could guess some of the highest-rated passers. Super Bowl-winning QB Brad Johnson would obviously be a good guess, and Shaun King's nice start probably kept him near the top.

The man on the top of the list, however, is Brian Griese, who has all of one year as a Buccaneer. His career (and 2004) passer rating as a Buccaneer is 97.5, putting him well ahead of Johnson (83.2) and King (75.4). Those are the top three, followed by Steve DeBerg (73.9) and Craig Erickson (73.8).

Yes, there is an obviously lean to the more current players on this list. That is due, in part, to changes in the game, as well as the Bucs' recent run of success. Since the time of Doug Williams – a quarterback who most consider one of the best in team history – passing, and passing accuracy in particular, have become more and more emphasized. Williams was a wonderful, strong-armed passer who would later win a Super Bowl with the Redskins, but his career completion percentage is just 47.4%. If Williams played today, it is almost certain that his completion percentage – and thus his passer rating – would be a lot higher.

If you think it's unfair for Griese to be at the top of the list after just one season…well, the minimum number of passes needed to qualify for this list, as far as the Bucs' record-keepers are concerned, has always been 250. Griese threw 336 passes last year.

Still, only 11 players in team history have thrown enough passes to qualify for the passer rating race. Here is how those 11 rank in that category:

**Player****Years****Passes Thrown****Passer Rating**
Brian Griese200433697.5
Brad Johnson2001-041,68383.2
Shaun King1999-200365475.4
Steve DeBerg1984-87; 92-931,41473.9
Craig Erickson1992-9488273.8
Jack Thompson1983-8447569.8
Trent Dilfer1994-992,03869.4
Doug Williams1978-821,89066.2
Vinny Testaverde1987-922,16064.4
Steve Young1985-8650163.1
Steve Spurrier197631157.1

Make of that list as you will by choosing your own minimum limit. For example, of the players who have thrown at least 1,000 passes as a Buccaneer, Johnson is the top dog. If you dropped the limit to 100 passes, then Joe Ferguson (68.9 from 1988-89) would pop into the top 10.

And, if just for giggles, you put no limit on the number of passes at all, then the Bucs' all-time leader would be none other than James Wilder, who has a perfect career passer rating of 158.3. That's the result of one pass, a 16-yard touchdown strike to running back Adger Armstrong at Green Bay on December 2, 1984. The four categories that are used to compute passer rating are completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdowns per attempt and interceptions per attempt, and Wilder's one pass scores as high as possible on all four charts.

If we removed the minimums and gave it to Wilder, than one man would amazingly lead the team in rushing yards, receptions and passer rating. That would be quite an accomplishment.

**

  1. Kyle McClamma of Clermont, Florida asks:

How many games have the Bucs won in the final minute versus how many have been lost in the final minute?

Answer Man: You know, little things come in small packages. Look at this question as compared to the one from Don above. No frills, two lines, simple topic...should be a quick little appetizer for the Answer Man, right?

Wrong!

To the Answer Man's surprise, we here at One Buc Place did not have an existing list of games won or lost in the final minute. You know what that means, right? Research!

Hey, I ain't complaining. As I've said before, my shoe-shining job here at the complex has given me access to some very interesting material, such as the play-by-plays for every Buccaneer game ever played. Sometimes, if you're asked a question you weren't prepared for, that means a few hours of sifting through file cabinets, but there are rewards to such work. Primarily, those rewards are a few jogs to the memory, as players, moments and games from the team's past come unbidden to the front of the mind. Here's a random example: While researching this answer I was reminded of the fifth game of the 1997 season, a 19-18 win over the visiting Arizona Cardinals.

Some of you may remember that contest as the one that stretched the Bucs' season-opening winning streak to five games. It was very much in doubt, however, until QB Trent Dilfer hit WR Karl Williams on a simple crossing route on a fourth-down play, and Williams turned it up the right sideline for the game-winning touchdown. That particular game does not figure into the answer to this question, by the way, but it was a thrilling affair that went down to the wire.

Okay, anyway, enough spacey reverie for the Answer Man. Let's get down to the question. As usual, I will start by defining the terms.

You asked for games won or lost "in the final minute." I'm going to take that literally. Therefore, we will be considering games in which either 1) the winning team was behind and scored the go-ahead points in the final 60 seconds of the game; or 2) the two teams were tied and one team scored the winning points in the final 60 seconds of the game.

Now, the one aspect of this that the Answer Man is unsure of what to do with is overtime games. Technically, every overtime game is won in the final minute, since the game is over as soon as the winning points are scored. Still, I think it is outside of the bounds of your question. We can handle the argument from either direction, though. We'll give you the answer without the overtime games figured in, then add those contest in and let you decide which one you want to go with.

Before revealing the results of my research, I'm curious as to what the average Buccaneer fan would think the answer to be. The Bucs have an all-time record heavy in the loss column thanks to the lost years of the '80s and early '90s, but does that mean they haven't performed well when the game was on the line.

Well, no, it doesn't mean that. You'll see a full chart below, but I'll start by telling you this. The Bucs have won 17 games in the final minute of the game, and lost 18 under the same circumstances. That's right, through all the years, only a one-game difference. Now, the Bucs are also 10-13-1 in overtime games, so that would make them 27-31-1 in last-minute games, if you choose to include those.

Here's the chart of every game that was won or lost by the Buccaneers (according to the terms above) in the final minute. Wins are in the left column, losses in the right:

**Date****Game Won****Date****Game Lost**
9/11/80Bucs 10, Rams 910/24/76Dolphins 23, Bucs 20
10/26/80Bucs 24, 49ers 2310/29/78Packers 9, Bucs 7
12/26/82Bucs 23, Lions 2111/5/78Rams 26, Bucs 23
9/11/88Bucs 13, Packers 1012/13/81Chargers 24, Bucs 23
10/2/88Bucs 27, Packers 2411/4/84Vikings 27, Bucs 24
11/13/88Bucs 23, Lions 2010/20/85Dolphins 41, Bucs 38
11/19/89Bucs 32, Bears 319/17/8949ers 20, Bucs 16
11/26/89Bucs 14, Cardinals 1310/15/89Lions 17, Bucs 16
12/2/90Bucs 23, Falcons 1712/3/89Packers 17, Bucs 16
9/27/92Bucs 27, Lions 2310/21/90Cowboys 17, Bucs 13
10/8/95Bucs 19, Bengals 169/15/91Packers 15, Bucs 13
11/2/97Bucs 31, Colts 2811/24/91Giants 21, Bucs 14
11/21/99Bucs 19, Falcons 1011/20/94Seahawks 22, Bucs 21
12/18/00Bucs 38, Rams 359/22/96Seahawks 17, Bucs 13
11/11/01Bucs 20, Lions 179/24/00Jets 21, Bucs 17
12/9/01Bucs 15, Lions 1211/2/03Saints 17, Bucs 14
10/27/02Bucs 12, Panthers 911/28/04Panthers 21, Bucs 14
12/19/04Saints 21, Bucs 17

Does any game in that list look unusual to you? Some might wonder how I could call the Bucs' 19-10 win over Atlanta on November 21, 1999 a "last-minute" game. Well, it was. The Bucs took a 12-10 lead on a long field goal by Martin Gramatica with about 50 seconds left in the game. Then, when Atlanta tried to mount a final-minute comeback of their own, Buccaneer cornerback Donnie Abraham intercepted a Chris Chandler pass and returned it 47 yards for an insurance TD. That extra touchdown notwithstanding, this game still fits the criteria.

You might also be surprised to see that there is an average of less than one last-minute win and one last-minute loss per season. Some of that is a function of our definition. You have to have the cutoff somewhere, and we went with one minute. There were some games that were really close, such as Minnesota's 20-16 win over the Bucs on September 30, 2001. Daunte Culpepper scored the winning points in that game with 1:03 to go; doesn't count. Similarly, the Bucs' amazing, 14-13 comeback win over Philadelphia on October 6, 1991 doesn't count because the winning touchdown was scored with 1:09 to go. There are a handful of such games in Buc history.

This list also does not consider games that were "won" at the end on defense, or special teams. For instance, on October 28, 1979 the Bucs won at Minnesota, 12-10. The final outcome might have been different had CB Mike Washington not knocked away a last-second pass in the end zone on the final play as the Vikings tried to win it. More to the point, Oakland's Ted Hendricks blocked a Bill Capece field goal attempt with five seconds to go on October 18, 1981 to preserve an 18-16 Raiders win that could have just as easily been 19-18. Another prime example the Answer Man can't pass up: On November 19, 1995, the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars scored a touchdown in the final minute of regulation to pull within 17-16 of the Buccaneers. Nothing to lose, the Jags went for two and were denied by the Bucs' defense...three times, thanks to penalties. Is that a last-minute win?

Anyway, I'll have to stick to our definition and declare the Bucs 17-18 all-time in last-minute games, not including overtime. Hopefully, I've given you enough information to decide how you want to define it.

**

  1. Lee Neitzel of Charlotte, North Carolina asks:

**Mr. Answer man. Can you please tell me the answer to the Going Deep contest? I promise to take you as one of my guests!

No? Okay, fine. How about my real question...

I am noticing, as are probably many other Bucs fans, that our Mr. France is doing rather well in Europe right now and is on pace to break some records. A good reason for us to be excited...considering our kicking woes as of late. How many NFL Europe record holders have gone on to start in our very own NFL? Is there good reason to believe that this success might transfer over? How about the previous record holder for kicking? Is he playing in the NFL now? (Or...to sum it all up...how many kickers have gone from success in Europe to success here?)

Hope you had a safe and relaxing Memorial Day and that Mrs. Answer Man didn't have you doing to much work around the house!**

Answer Man: Lee, I gotta be honest. I really didn't feel like doing the research on this one. I mean, I knew that Adam Vinatieri is the perfect example for your question, but I'd have to do some digging to find the rest.

However, I liked the way you presented the question, and wanted it in my column, so here goes…

(By the way, I can tell you the Going Deep! answer, because the contest is apparently over. Some guy named Ryan Brenneman – and a few others, from what I read – figured it out from two clues. Two clues. Let me bet honest again: The Answer Man didn't get Tony Stargell out of "56" and "Monte Kiffin." Oh, that's the answer, by the way: Tony Stargell. Click here if you want to read more about the contest's sudden end, and see all of the 12 clues that would have eventually gone up.)

As for the NFL Europe League, I'm not sure if you're only asking about kickers, but we'll start there. I probably don't have to tell you much about Vinatieri's NFL resume, as his playoff success has some people calling him the greatest clutch kicker ever. What you may not know is that, after not being drafted or signed by an NFL team in 1995, he went to what was then called the World League and played for the Amsterdam Admirals in the spring of 1996. The Patriots signed him after that season and just before training camp, and he ended up beating out Matt Bahr for the job. Vinatieri also punted for the Admirals, showing off his strong leg.

Probably the next most famous kicker to come out of the NFLEL is David Akers, who just happened to be the other kicker in last February's Super Bowl. Akers followed a similar path, going to Europe as a free agent and then signing with an NFL team, in this case Philadelphia, after the season. The Eagles kept him on the roster as a kickoff specialist in 1999, then gave him the full-time job in 2000 and he has since developed into one of the best at his position.

The name that France is erasing from the NFLEL record books is Scott Szeredy, who is not one of the former Europe kickers to find great success in the NFL. Szeredy has done most of his kicking in the Arena League; he got a shot with the Chiefs but didn't win the job.

There's no reason why France can't become more of a Vinatieri then a Szeredy, in terms of the NFL. Good kickers in the National Football League come from all over, and many of them have to bounce around a bit before they latch on. The two leading scorers in Buccaneer history are Martin Gramatica and Michael Husted, and they provide a perfectly paired example. Gramatica was a third-round pick who came into the league with great expectations. Husted was an unsigned college pickup who came to Bucs camp in 1993 with absolutely no fanfare.

Should you be excited by France's work overseas? Well, why not? Unlike a receiver or a defensive linemen, the quality of the competition (or lack thereof) isn't such a question mark for a kicker. I mean, it's pretty much a matter of whether or not he can kick the ball 50 yards through the uprights, and that's the same here and there. France has made a lot of long kicks this spring, including a 54-yarder, and his coach even tried him on a 58-yarder at one point. Probably the biggest difference between the two leagues for a kicker is the amount of pressure, and we won't know how France will handle that until he gets here. At the very least, I would say it is fair to be excited about the upcoming competition between France and the more established Matt Bryant.

If you were also referring to players at other positions who have also done well in the NFL, here are a few NFL Europe alumni to keep in mind: Kurt Warner, Brad Johnson, Jake Delhomme, Jay Fiedler, Brian Waters, Michael Lewis, Marcus Robinson, Bill Schroeder, Joe Andruzzi, Marco Rivera, Chartric Darby, Corey Ivy, Aaron Stecker and Dante Hall. You'll notice several Super Bowl champions on that list.

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  1. Michael of St. Petersburg, Florida asks:

Hello Almighty answer man! I have a question that as simple as it is, might take some time to find out the answer to. It is how many first overall draft picks have the Buccaneers had in their franchise history? I know that if there is one person who would know it's you. Thanks for taking the time to answer my question.

Answer Man: You're half right, Michael. That is simple, but it would take virtually no time at all to look up, even if I needed to. Which I don't.

The Answer Man knows he is not alone in Bucfandom when he recites all of the first-overall draft picks in team history:

  • 1976: DE Lee Roy Selmon – One of, if not the, best player(s) in team history; inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. * 1977: RB Ricky Bell – Fourth-leading rusher in team history; had career and life cut tragically short by rare disease. * 1986: RB Bo Jackson – Followed through on threat never to play for the Buccaneers, who were then a downtrodden franchise. * 1987: QB Vinny Testaverde – Started 72 games in six seasons with Tampa Bay; owns team record for career passing yards; still plying his trade in the NFL.

And that's it. The Bucs could have made the first overall pick in 1978 and 1984 but didn't due to trades. In 1978, they traded down to the 17th spot with Houston, allowing the Oilers to move up for RB Earl Campbell. The Bucs, not needing a back after taking Bell the year before, got their quarterback, Doug Williams, at 17 and also picked up TE Jimmie Giles in the deal, plus a second-round pick that year and two more picks the next spring. In 1983, they traded their first-round pick to Cincinnati for QB Jack Thompson (what were the chances his name would show up twice in the same column), then saw that become the first overall pick after Tampa Bay finished the 1983 season at 2-14.

One other note on that: The Bucs were actually due to pick second overall in the first round in 1986, then alternate between 2 and 1 with Buffalo the rest of the way. However, Buffalo had traded that pick to Cleveland and the Browns exercised it in the 1985 supplemental draft, taking Miami QB Bernie Kosar.

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  1. Clinton of Tampa, Florida asks:

A: If a pass is going out of bounds, can a player go out of bounds and hit it, while he is airborne, to another player? Because he never caught it so it wouldn't be considered a catch. B: Can a guy catch a pass off a ref's head? I know that's a very weird question but I just was curious, and I doubt either would ever happen, but why not know? Thanks, Chow!

Answer Man: The quick answer to your two questions is, yes, those both describe legal receptions. Let's take a closer look.

In the (A) scenario, you have a player jumping out of bounds and batting the ball back to one of his teammates. As long as he has not stepped out of bounds before he jumps and is able to bat the ball back before he lands, this is legal. He could not stand out of bounds and bat it back in, but I think you covered that by saying "while he is airborne."

By the way, this bat does not have to be backward. Rule 12, Section 1, Article 6 of the NFL Rulebook talks about the "Illegal Bat," but adds this exception:

A forward pass in flight may be tipped, batted, or deflected in any direction by any eligible player at any time.

Obviously, I was assuming you meant a receiver or a back or another eligible player was doing the leaping over the sideline. If an offensive lineman tried to pull off this move, not only would he probably crush some poor ball boy, but he would also incur a penalty, as he is ineligible to be the first person to touch the ball. However, if he is standing near the sideline and is the player who catches the deflection, that would be legal. All offensive players become eligible once a pass is touched by an eligible receiver or any defensive players.

Now, if this leaping sideline dynamo were to actually catch the ball in mid-air, then he needs to be careful to pitch it backward before he hits the ground. There is a distinction between batting the ball in flight and actually catching it, as seen in this lyrical little bit from the Rulebook's companion piece, the Casebook:

A.R. 12.19 ILLEGAL BAT-PASS Second-and-6 on B40. End A3 leaps in the air to catch a pass and controls the ball at the B35. While in the air, he flips the ball forward to A4, and: a) A4 runs for a touchdown, or b) A4 muffs the ball. Rulings: a) Second-and-16 on 50. A controlled pass in flight can only be thrown backward; this is considered an illegal bat. b) Third-and-6 on B40. No foul if the ball is not caught.

Alright, now on to your (B) scenario.

This is pretty succinctly addressed in Rule 7, Section 4, Article 5, which states:

The ball is not dead because of touching an official who is inbounds or because of a signal by an official other than a whistle.

So, yeah, as long as the official is not standing out of bounds, you can whistle the ball off his noggin and into a player's hands. Obviously, no one would ever try this, but it could certainly happen as a fluke. The Answer Man couldn't find any examples on the net with a little surfing, but I did find one instance of a defending team intercepting a pass that had bounced off the umpire.

Hope that helps, Clinton. And ciao to you, too!

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I'll say ciao to all of you as soon as we run through these quickies...

  1. Matthew Tomeny of Tampa, Florida asks:

Hi answer man, I was just wondering has there ever been a rookie who won an MVP award. Thanks!

Answer Man: Though you don't say so, I'm going to assume your answer is confined to the NFL and not bring up such names as Jim Rice and Ichiro Suzuki.

This has happened just once in the NFL, and though it was a long time ago, it is definitely a name you'll remember: Jim Brown. The Cleveland Browns' running back took the MVP award in 1957, which was actually the first year the Associated Press gave out the honor. So, for awhile at least, every NFL MVP was a rookie. Brown, by the way, won it again in 1965.

Were you maybe thinking ahead a bit for the Bucs' new Cadillac? That would be nice!

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  1. Gerhard of Vienna, Austria asks:

In July I'm on holiday near Tampa and I wanna visit the stadium; is it possible, when and where do I have to go or call? Many thanks.

Answer Man: Actually, I added the Austria to the hometown above. I found a Vienna, Virginia, but I'm guessing this is an overseas trip.

Anyway, yes, Gerhard, you can visit the stadium. The Tampa Sports Authority runs tours. We originally answered this question in Series 2, Volume 2; click through to check it out.

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Kyle Leach of Vicksburg, Mississippi asks:

What is the longest kick return in buccaneer history?

Answer Man: If by "kick return" you mean kickoff return, then the answer is 86. Aaron Stecker, who last season returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the Saints against the Bucs, recorded an 86 yarder on December 23, 2001 for the Bucs against the Saints.

If by "kick return" you mean a return of either kind, punt or kickoff (some people use that term to include both), then the answer is 95. In his first regular season game, at Green Bay on September 13, 1998, wide receiver Jacquez Green took a punt that far for a touchdown at Lambeau Field.

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Corbin from Sebastian, Florida:

My son would like to paint his room in the team colors. Could you tell me what the exact names of the colors are and maybe where I could find them? Thanks.

The Answer Man has to admit that he had never heard of Sebastian, Florida before Corbin's e-mail. Looked it up; it's on the East Coast, lying about midway between Melbourne Beach and Vero Beach (well, a little closer to Vero Beach).

Anyway, it's surprising how many times I've been asked this question. Yours was one of two in my most recent e-mailbag. I first answered this question in Series 2, Volume 8. You'll find all the specific color numbers there.

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Bob Lippy of Valrico, Florida asks:

I always hear the announcers say "he is a north and south runner". My question is: Are all football stadiums situated where the end zones are physically facing north and south? Is there a rule that all stadiums must be constructed to face this way?

Answer Man: Believe it or not, we've even answered this question before, at least the first of these two. The answer to the second half of your question is, no, there is no rule regarding the direction in which stadiums must be oriented.

For the rest of the answer, check out Volume 7. The gist of my answer at the time is that most fields seem to be oriented this way, but not all of them. You could say that enough of them are set this way to have spawned that common phrase about the north-and-south runner.

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That's it for the Answer Man this week. I've got a few I'm going to have to punt until next week, including Justin Reed's question on a player being tackled by his hair. Kyle McClamma, you got one of your questions answered above, and we'll touch on the other one about teams the Bucs have a winning record against next week. And Craig Midkiff, no, you did not stump the Answer Man. Stay tuned.

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