That is, "new" as in "not yet swiped from the bin of overused columnist constructs."
You know, ubiquitous gags like the "Top 10 List." How could the Answer Man incorporate such a list? Top 10 Ways I've Been Asked Who the Bucs Are Going to Draft in the First Round? Top 10 Insults Regarding My Chin?
Nah, that won't fly.
Then there is the fake timeline-of-what-will-happen-during-the-season device, with humorous intentions. Sample text: "April 23: Commissioner Tagliabue misinterprets poor handwriting on Bucs' draft card, awards CBS's Mike Wallace, not USC's Mike Williams, to Tampa Bay with fifth overall pick." Problem is, this particular device produces an actually funny or entertaining column only about one out of every 4,359 times it is used.
I seriously doubt I would beat those odds, as briefly demonstrated above.
I even entertained the notion of the old Awards column – Best Question, Most Frustrating Topic, Most Incessant Question Submitter, etc. – but the categories got goofy real quick.
What else, what else? The Open Letter? Too condescending. The Contest? You wish. The Midseason Grades? You're all A's in my book.
I rejected all of those ideas, and then, just as I was beginning to lose hope of a vehicle that would fill the necessary introduction space and launch us into the fans' questions…I realized that I had come up with the perfect idea.
And now I'm done.
On to the questions.
- James Darcy of Medford, Oregon asks:
What's up Answer Man! I want to know how they credit a player for earning a sack. Specifically, what is the criteria when two players hit the quarterback about the same time that the league awards either half a sack or a full sack? Your answer is truly appreciated by the Strahan's of the world.
Answer Man: What's up, James!
That's a great question, and the unembellished answer is that, at some point, it's going to come down to a judgment call.
The first thing that happens, stat-wise, when a player sacks the quarterback – or does anything that generates a statistic, such as running or throwing the ball – is that a stat crew, assembled by the home team and placed in the press box, determines who did what and for how many yards.
A stat crew is generally comprised of about eight people, and at least one person will be in charge of defensive statistics. He will decide who is credited with the sack. If it's just one player taking down the quarterback, that's rather easy, especially considering that the player is likely to prance around a bit afterward and give everyone a good look at his name and number.
Now, if the situation is a little muddier – if, for instance, two defensive players hit the quarterback before he goes all the way down – then the stat crew member in charge of that stat is going to have to make a decision. Did the second player simply pile on to the back of the first one while the QB was going down? Did the first player start the passer on his glorious descent to the turf, with the second player coming in to make sure the job was finished? Did the two players hit the QB at the exact same time?
If the stat crew member determines that both players were significantly involved in the sack, he will give them each a half-sack. If a subsequent replay tells a different story, the stat crew will often go back and change the entry in the play-by-play. Since it's difficult to know if the quarterback would have gone down anyway before the second hit, the sack is generally split when two players are involved.
Now, that's not necessarily the end of the story. The Elias Sports Bureau, which collects, compiles and stores all of the NFL's statistics, reviews every game. If the Elias representative feels the stat crew scored the sack in error, they can change it. Additionally, if the team's players or coaches feel, upon reviewing the game film the next week, that the play was scored incorrectly, they can petition Elias to review the play.
That happens a lot, to be honest with you. It's not really a matter of players being greedy about their statistics; it's more an issue of the real story being easier to determine with repeated, slow-motion viewings of the game tape.
Here's a trickier occurrence: Three defensive players hitting the quarterback at the same time. Now that is an ugly statistical situation.
Fortunately, that doesn't happen very often, because stat crews might feel compelled to get all three defenders into the action. What do you do then, thirds of a sack?
Well, yes. Like I said, it's rare, because third and fourth defenders usually arrive after the sack is already obviously belonging to the first two players. Still, it happens. During the Bucs' 1982 season, defensive tackle David Logan and linebackers Hugh Green and Andy Hawkins all split a sack, leaving the trio with crazy numbers at the end of the year. Logan finished with 4.8 and Hawkins and Green had 2.3 each.
Obviously, those totals look foreign even to long-time NFL fans. Thus, you'd have to have a very compelling case to get a stat crew to split a sack three ways.
Interestingly (at least interestingly to me), this is NOT the way tackles are recorded. Obviously, a lot of tackles involve more than one defender. When a dual or group tackle occurs, the player who hit the ballcarrier first is given a full solo tackle while anyone else involved is (or can be) given an assist. So one ballcarrier going to the ground could be scored with more than one total tackle. That does not happen with a sack.
The important difference, of course, is that sacks are an official statistic while tackles are not.
- Jitin of Longwood, Florida asks:
In Series 2, Vol. 2, you stated that "if [a franchised player] signs with another team that club must give his original team two first-round draft picks." Well what if the team has only one first-round draft pick? Do they have to trade another team for a draft pick and give that pick to the team who lost the player?
Answer Man: Jitin, no team ever has only one first-round draft pick.
"What?" you say. "Why the Bucs only have one first-round pick this year, so your statement is obviously false."
Ah, but the key element in your rebuttal (as imagined by me) is "this year." The Bucs could trade two first-round picks for another team's franchise player right now…they would just have to give up their 2005 first-rounder and their 2006 first-rounder (or 2007; you get the picture).
Sometimes a team has multiple first-round picks, which makes things easier. That was the case when the Bucs traded for Keyshawn Johnson in 2000. They had picked up an extra first-rounder two years before when, during the 1998 draft, they traded a second-round pick to San Diego for a 2000 first-rounder.
By the way, San Diego used that second-round pick, which the Bucs had acquired a few hours before by trading down out of the first round, to draft tight end/wide receiver Mikhael Ricks. So the Chargers' desire to draft Ricks eventually led to the Bucs' acquisition of Johnson. Weird.
Okay, I sort of strayed off topic there. Anyway, the answer is to trade future first-round picks if you're not currently armed with two in that year's draft.
- Gene Smith of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida asks:
Why doesn't the Bucs' mascot have a better tan? You would think a pirate (who lives on boats), especially one who resides in Tampa, would have a nicer tan than he has.
Answer Man: Boy, I can't tell you how many times I've been asked this one.
(Note the subtly sarcastic use of italics.)
Seriously, the mascot's tan? You did notice the cheerleaders out there, right Geno? I've been asked what a football smells like and whether I prefer to cook with charcoal or gas, but this has to be the most random question so far.
Still, we aim to please here at Answer Man Enterprises, so here we go:
Captain Fear has a rather pale complexion because he avoids … because he doesn't have time to … uh, because he's impervious to the sun's …
Oh, heck, I've got no idea. There's only thing to do here: Take this question directly to the man. And that's what I've done.
Gene, I forwarded your question on to Captain Fear himself, and he was kind enough to write back. Below is the Captain's answer (seriously…the Answer Man isn't making this up):
"That's a very observant question, Gene. Thanks for asking, mate. Yo, the truth is that I put on a lot of sunscreen when I'm outside or on my ship. The Tampa sun is strong, but not as strong as me as long as I keep myself protected. You know the sun can burn your skin, too, which causes other harmful things. I need to be feeling my best at all times to cheer on my fellow Buccaneers at all our games, so I do all I can to protect my body and get good exercise while outdoors in Tampa Bay.
See you at the next game, Gene.
Fond wishes, Captain Fear."
So there you have it. For possibly the most health-conscious pirate in world history, it comes down to sun safety. You've got to admit he makes a very good point, Gene, and he's eager to share that message with kids.
- Dances with Dingoes of Australia asks:
Yeah answer mate. I remember reading something along the lines that there is a "rookie cap" or a cap allowance for rookies, which is included in the salary cap for teams in the NFL. As Tampa has so many picks this year, could this mean that not all rookies could be signed to the roster? Is this related to when Drew Henson was drafted and then not retained? What were the circumstances here? You beauty.
Answer Man: The Answer Man isn't fond of letters with pseudonyms and indeterminate hometowns, but this question was too juicy to pass up. "You beauty?" Classic.
Your memory is accurate; there is a rookie salary cap. It is not a separate cap, however, but a subset of the overall salary cap. First-year player salaries count the same towards the cap as every other player's salary, but they are also regulated by that rookie cap.
Before each draft, there is a dollar value assigned to each pick in the draft, obviously declining as the draft goes on. This number is based on the salaries that were slotted to those spots the year before, though upgraded each year at the same rate that the league's gross revenues increase.
So if you make the first pick in the draft, and that slot has a salary figure of $5 million affixed to it, then your rookie cap is now $5 million. (These numbers are random and meaningless, for illustration purposes only.)
If you then make the first pick in the second round, and that slot has a salary figure of $2 million affixed to it, your overall rookie cap is now $7 million. And so on. Let's say a team makes seven picks, and the various slots add up to $12 million. That is that team's rookie cap.
This does not mean that a team has to spend exactly the amount of money allotted to that pick on the player it selects there. It means that the total money spent on draft-pick contracts has to fit under that $12 million. By slotting these things so specifically, the NFL has helped greatly reduce the number of rookie holdouts.
That also doesn't mean that a draft choice has absolutely no wriggle room. There are still plenty of ways to pay a player a high salary, most notably the signing bonus. First-round draft picks still start with very nice contracts, but they are typically high on signing bonus and relatively low on salary, which helps spread out the cap hit.
Will this force the Bucs to cut some of their draft picks? No. The team will make the necessary moves to be able to keep any of the draft picks that prove worthy of a roster spot.
As for the Henson example, I don't think I follow you. After trying his hand in baseball with the Yankees for three years, Henson declared for the 2003 NFL Draft and was selected by Houston in the sixth round. Houston did sign him, then eventually traded him to Dallas last year in exchange for a third-round pick this year. Since the Texans already had a young David Carr in place, most observers believed they drafted Henson specifically for the purpose of trading him for a higher pick. If so, it was a shrewd and successful move. I don't see how it relates to your question, though.
- Matt of England asks:
What is the difference between the normal NFL draft and a Supplementary draft?
Answer Man: Feel free to get a bit more specific about your hometown, Matt. It's not like the Answer Man is going to come looking for you.
Anyway, I believe you're referring to the "supplemental draft," which is usually held in the middle of the summer, a couple of months after the regular NFL draft.
The supplemental draft is for any players who became eligible to be drafted after the regular draft has taken place. For instance, a college junior may be intending to play his senior season and thus will not declare himself eligible for the NFL draft that spring. However, if this player subsequently finds out he's going to be ineligible for the following NCAA season for whatever reason, he may decide to go ahead and begin his professional career.
Rather than make this player wait a whole year, the NFL will hold a supplemental draft in the summer. Generally there are only a few players available at this time. One recent example is Georgia Tech running back Tony Hollings, who joined the Houston Texans as a supplemental draft pick in the summer of 2003.
Unlike the regular draft, the supplemental draft is a very low-key affair, hardly covered by the press at all. Most of the proceedings are just teams electing to pass on their picks. In other words, when Hollings was available in 2003, every team passed with its first-round pick. The Texans then bit with their second-round pick, thus forfeiting their second-round pick in the next spring's regular draft.
- Jorge Hernandez of Yuma, Arizona asks:
Hey answer man quick question, when a player is released that has, say, a $5,000,000 contract, how much does the team actually free up in cap salary?
Answer Man: That depends, Jorge, but at least you are on the right track by making the distinction between actual salary and salary as it applies to cap space (this is commonly called a player's "cap number.")
If the $5 million player has no prorated signing bonus for that year, then the savings in terms of cap space would be $5 million. Of course, that's relatively rare. Let's take a more common example, though we'll purposely use simple and even numbers to make the math easier to digest.
On March 25, 2002, Player A signs a five-year contract that pays him $5 million each year and a $10 million signing bonus right then. At that moment, his projected cap number for each year will be $7 million – that's his $5 million annual salary and the signing bonus prorated over the five years. While a player gets his signing bonus right away (relatively speaking), the cap hit for that bonus is divided out equally over the length of his contract.
Now, as we've discussed before, if the player is released at some point before the contract is finished, the prorated portions of his signing bonus "accelerate" to that moment, in terms of his cap number. So if Player A played 2002-2004 under that contract but was then cut, his $2 million prorated portions from 2005 and 2006 would hit the cap right then. So you'd be saving $5 million by releasing Player A, but you would be adding a $4 million hit to your cap thanks to his prorated bonus. Thus, your cap savings would be only $1 million.
Thus, it becomes easier to release a player as he nears the end of his contract. Releasing Player A one year later would save $3 million against the cap.
This is also why renegotiation (or "restructuring") a player's contract can help a team facing an immediate cap crunch, though it can make things difficult down the road.
Let's say you have Player B on your roster, and he's due to make $4 million each of the next three years (with no appreciable signing bonus to worry about), or a total of $12 million over the remainder of the contract. He agrees to a new contract to replace that one, a deal that still pays him $12 million over three years but in a different manner.
In the new deal, the player gets a $3 million signing bonus and has his 2005 salary reduced to $1 million. The other two years remain the same, at $4 million each. (Again, this is an overly simplistic example in order to make the numbers look nice and tidy.)
Now how does this new deal hit the cap? Well, the $3 million signing bonus is spread evenly over the three seasons, 2005-07. That means his 2005 cap number is now $2 million instead of $4 million, because his salary is $1 million and his prorated signing bonus is $1 million. The player still gets the same amount of money and in fact gets a nice chunk of it up front, which is obviously good for him. The team saves $2 million in cap space, though it adds a $1 million to its cap hits in 2006 and 2007.
I hope that's clear. I know you called it a "quick question," Jorge, but the Answer Man is virtually incapable of responding with a "quick answer!"
- Chris M. of New York, New York asks:
Did the Bucs ever have a player named Sean Farrell? (I'm not sure of the first name.) If yes, can you tell me about his career?
Answer Man: Absolutely, and you have the first name right. In fact, Farrell was Tampa Bay's first-round draft pick in 1982.
Farrell was a solid prospect at offensive guard, and he played well for the Bucs for five years (1982-86), starting 59 games. Joe Paterno, who you may remember as the head coach at Penn State way back then, said of Farrell:
"If there is a better lineman than Sean in college football this year, then he must be Superman."
Of course, Paterno was probably a bit biased. In any case, Farrell was a good performer for the Buccaneers, but those were some of the darkest days in franchise history, and he expressed a desire to be traded. Ray Perkins, the new head coach in 1987, granted that wish, sending Farrell to New England for a second-round pick in the 1987 draft (used on Mississippi State RB Don Smith.)
Farrell, the only guard ever drafted by the Buccaneers in the first round, earned several all-rookie team honors in 1982. He lost much of 1983 to a hamstring injury, but started 14 games at right guard in 1984 and was an all-pro pick by The Sporting News. He was also a Pro Bowl alternate that year after opening holes for RB James Wilder's team-record 1,544 rushing yards. He started two more seasons and even filled in admirably at offensive tackle on several occasions before the trade to the Patriots.
- Kenneth Cunningham of Tampa, Florida asks:
Did the Tampa Bay Bucs ever have a team member by the name of Jamie Lawson and if so what year was he with the franchise?
Answer Man: Man, I've been getting a lot of these questions lately.
Yes, Lawson was also a Buccaneer. The Nicholls State fullback was a fifth-round draft pick in 1989, and he appeared on the roster in '89 and '90, playing in 11 games.
Thick (5-10, 250 pounds) and powerful, Lawson spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, appearing in five games and performing well on special teams. He played in six more games with the Bucs in 1990 before being waived and signing with the Patriots, for whom he played one more game that season.
In 1991, the Buccaneers got Lawson back through the old Plan B free agency system, but he did not make the team.
- Derek of Auburndale, Florida asks:
Hey AM, I was wondering why is it on some football cards/football websites they list Brad Johnson's "hometown" as Marietta, GA when it's well known he's from/grew up in Black Mountain, NC?
Answer Man: Derek, the confusion in these issues usually comes down to how a team or a web site or a card company has chosen to define "hometown."
Take Brad's case. He was born in Marietta. Does that make it his hometown? But he grew up in Black Mountain and played high school ball there? Does that make it his hometown?
For the record, the Bucs (and this web site) use Black Mountain because that's where he played in high school. In fact, that is the exact criteria for how we determine what we put in that column. To make it (hopefully) less confusing, the Buccaneers use "HS Hometown" as the header for that column on their printed rosters, though it admittedly only says "Hometown" here on Buccaneers.com.
You'd be surprised at how often this is an issue. Brad's case is pretty cut-and-dried, and he obviously associates with Black Mountain. Sometimes, however, a player calls a certain place his hometown, but attends high school in what is technically a different town. Dave Moore is a good example of this; he calls Morristown, New Jersey his hometown but he actually attended Roxbury High School in Succasunna, New Jersey. Our roster lists Succasunna as his "High School Hometown." Obviously, if a player requests that the team use a specific hometown on the roster – if Dave asked the Bucs to list Morristown for him, for example – the team would oblige.
- Patrick M. of Jupiter, Florida asks:
I have wanted to do my walls Bucs colors for a little bit, but I was having trouble finding the EXACT colors/color codes for the Bucs red and Pewter. I could not think of anyone other than you to ask. So what are the color codes for the Bucs colors, and who would carry the paint?
Answer Man: We actually touched on this topic briefly in Volume 12 but more in regards to the Bucs' uniforms. Your question is more specific, so it's worthy of its own treatment.
I can answer half of it. I don't know where you should go to get paint in the following colors, but I can tell you what colors to look for.
There are actually three sets of codes for the Bucs' colors: Solid Color, Process Color and Textile Color. The first two are used for things such as printing, while the last one, Textile Color, is used for clothing. Dyes come out differently on paper and clothing.
The Solid Color chart gives us the exact codes for the colors in question, while the Process Color chart tells a printer how to reproduce those color using the CMYK process (mixing the basic printing colors of cyan, magenta, yellow and black to produce all other colors). In printing, if you use the CMYK process to print your entire document, that's called four-color printing. You can make it five- or six-color printing (or higher) by using the CMYK process for most of a document but using the exact Solid Color codes for certain things. For instance, the Bucs might use the five-color process to print their media guide, mostly relying on CMYK processing but specifically using the Solid Color for Buccaneers Red to make sure that it is a perfect match.
Anyway, paints can be found in those same Pantone Solid colors; in particular, I think you could find the Buccaneers Red Pantone fairly easily; a quick search on the internet gave me several hits right off the bat.
Here are the Bucs' Pantone Solid Color Codes for their primary colors, plus orange, which is used sparingly for accents:
- Buccaneers Red: Pantone 187 * Buccaneers Black: Pantone Black 6 * Buccaneers Pewter: Pantone 8600 metallic (or Pantone 405 if metallic not available) * Buccaneers Orange: Pantone 172
Good luck on your project, Patrick.
Have I mentioned before that I often see the same questions over and over again, even after we've discussed them in detail? Have I mentioned before that I often see the same questions over and over again, even after we've discussed them in detail?
Anyway, as usual, I'll end the column with a handful of asked-and-answered submissions. And I'm just kidding with the above paragraph…the Answer Man doesn't expect every reader to go back and look through the last 30 columns (that's right, baby - 30 columns!). Not to mention, some of the repeat questions are too entertaining to just send to the "Deleted" bin, such as this one below from Salvador.
- Salvador Perez of Miami, Florida asks:
O Great Omnipotent Answer Man, I bring forth a question a perfect simplicity. Everyone is talking about how all teams must be under the cap real soon. My question, as simple as it may seem, is what if we don't? They won't just kick TB our of the NFL or take it upon themselves to terminate player contracts.... will they? What happens if we don't get under the cap? What happens if Bruce Allen can't get it done? What happens if Neo fails?
Answer Man: I would have loved to have given your question a more prominent spot in the column, Salvador, as delightfully worded as it was, but we've covered this ground already.
Check out Volume 8 from last September for that discussion. Basically, teams never let this happen because the penalties get very severe very quickly.
And Neo did fail. He failed to make a satisfactory sequel to the first movie.
- Lesley Noriega of Indianapolis, Indiana asks:
My husband and I will be in Tampa the last week of April. I was wondering if there are any stadium tours we can take during this week. We have been to other cities with NFL teams and they provide tours that the general public can view things like the field, luxury boxes, and locker rooms. My husband grew up in Tampa and is a lifelong Bucs fan and he would greatly enjoy such a tour. Please let me know if this is something you offer.
Answer Man: Covered this one, too, though more recently. As I said in Series 2, Volume 2, there are tours of the stadium available, and they are run by the Tampa Sports Authority.
For more details, visit the tours section of TSA's web site here.
13a. Rick Richey of Clearwater, Florida asks:
Could you tell me when the 2005 schedule will be released, trying to make some fall vacation plans and unable to do until I know the schedule.
And, 13b. Fred Childress of Northern Virginia piles on with:
I would like to attend the Bucs / Redskins game in 2005 season in Tampa - when does the 2005 schedule come out?
Answer Man: Obviously, I don't have as many regular readers as I thought. We covered this topic last week!
The schedule will likely be released some time during the last week of March or the first two weeks of April. Here is last week's full discussion of the matter.
Once again, there were more questions in the e-mailbag than the Answer Man could handle, but I'm trying to get to as many of them as I can. If you didn't see your question here, please try back in a few days when I post my next column. Until then, so long and a Happy NFL Free Agency Period to you.