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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Answer Man, Series 4, Vol. 2

The impending arrival of free agency sends your inside man at Buc headquarters back to the early days of the CBA, followed by discussions on pylons, tiring defenses and more


Gotta few names to throw your way today. These are names of men who are – or rather, were – NFL players, and not of the distant past. Many of them were stars in the league in the late '80s and the early to mid-'90s. Unless you're quite young or relatively new to the NFL fan experience, these names will bring back some memories.

Names such as Tim McDonald and Darren Carrington...remember those hard-hitting defensive backs? How about Mark Clayton, Hassan Jones and Ernest Givens, a trio of memorable receivers? Or Jeff Hostetler and Neil O'Donnell, two Super Bowl starting quarterbacks. Oh, and Steve Beuerlein, who was at least on a Super Bowl team.

Do you recall Kelvin Martin and Melvin Jenkins? Remember which one was the receiver and which was the defensive back? There was Al Noga, brother of Niko. And if there was a better name than Niko Noga, maybe it belonged to Boomer Esiason, another Super Bowl QB.

Not impressed? Check out these names: Reggie White, Joe Montana and Bill Romanowski. That's two Hall of Famers and one Hall-of-Fame-sized…uh, character. Let's say character.

But what do all of these names have in common, and why is the Answer Man tossing them around this week? The answer lies in free agency and the collective bargaining agreement, the latter of which has become a very hot topic in the NFL once again. Owners and players are currently trying to work their way to an agreement on a new CBA, one that will satisfy both sides and continue to make the NFL the strongest, most popular league in America.

Back in 1993, the CBA that has served the league so well was in its infancy, and teams were still crawling their way through the new free agency landscape. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you may or may not recall, came out as aggressively as just about any team in the spring of '93, when roughly 300 players around the league suddenly became free agents of varying types.

And all of those names above, the Nogas and Beuerleins and Whites, were linked at one time or another to the Buccaneers during March and April of 1993. Some came for visits, some put Tampa on their initial schedule of visits and some, to be sure, never advanced beyond the rumor stage. But they were hot rumors, daily fodder for the papers. Really, all the rumors around the league were red-hot at this time, when no one knew for sure how the first year of free agency was going to develop. As it turned out, White's move from Philadelphia to Green Bay was probably the signature shot of that first year of the NFL open market, but it's worth mentioning that the Bucs were serious suitors in the competition for his services.

And, yes, they flirted with Montana, Esiason and Beuerlein, too, as they were expecting Vinny Testaverde, himself a new free agent, to leave. And leave Vinny did, for a nice deal with the Browns, where he enjoyed several fine years before later moving on to the Jets (and briefly Dallas, then the Jets again). Montana went to Kansas City (and played his first regular-season game for the Chiefs in Tampa, as it turned out). Esiason was traded to those Jets for a third-round pick before then-Bucs coach Sam Wyche could make his Boomer reunion a reality. The flirtation with Beuerlein came closer to fruition, but the well-traveled passer went to Arizona instead after the Cardinals lost out on Montana.

The Bucs even managed to get O'Donnell inked to a lucrative contract, but the Steeler quarterback had received the "transition" tag from Pittsburgh, which meant his original team had the right to match any offer sheet signed. The Steelers had a week to decide if they wanted to match, and they used virtually every minute of that to come to the conclusion that, yes, they would pay the big bucks to keep O'Donnell. Three years into that contract, O'Donnell was the starting quarterback for Pittsburgh in its Super Bowl XXX loss to Dallas (unfortunately, O'Donnell's two most critical throws of the day ended up in the hands of Cowboy cornerback Larry Brown, who then used his Super Bowl MVP status to get a big free agent contract from Oakland). One little-known detail of O'Donnell's visit to Tampa: He left a very nice jacket in the Bucs' public relations closet, and the Answer Man had to mail it back to him. Maybe he thought he would be back to pick it up in person.

The Bucs signed Carrington, the San Diego safety, to an offer sheet, too, but the Chargers also matched. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay did the same thing with center Tony Mayberry when the Patriots tried to steal him away.

About that same time, the Bucs also hit their first free agency home run. This time the Steelers couldn't do anything about it when Tampa Bay swooped in and signed middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson, who had no tag on him. We all know how that turned out. At the time, though, Steelers' management referred to the contract Nickerson got in Tampa as "insanity." The Bucs also signed solid cornerback Martin Mayhew from the Redskins and did manage to snag one of the Hall of Famers they pursued: tackle Anthony Munoz. Wyche coaxed Munoz out of retirement but the legendary tackle rode back into the sunset in August when he was injured during a preseason game against the Dolphins in Orlando.

Why this lengthy trip down memory lane for the Answer Man? Well, credit a fan located here in Tampa named Chris (or blame him, if you found the above boring). His question, which is the first one I'll attack below, was prompted by a recent article here on detailing some of the important dates in the upcoming offseason. Chris wanted to know about the "transition" tag to which I refer above, and tracking down his specific answer sent the Answer Man into the Buccaneers' archive of newspaper articles. I found the answer fairly quickly, as you'll see below, but then spent another half hour flipping through pages of rumblings about Noga, Carrington, O'Donnell and the likes. Good times.

Now, on to Chris' question and the rest of the goodies in this week's Answer Man e-mailbag.


  1. Chris of Tampa, Florida asks:

**I was reading the upcoming schedule for the offseason and it mentioned a transition tag:

"Second, this date is the deadline for teams to use franchise and transition tags on players, if they have them. Most teams have already spent their transition tags years ago, but franchise tags renew when they are not currently being used on a player"

So by that statement a transition tag is something that a team only possesses one of if I am reading that right and it does not renew. So what is it, how are they used and when did the Buccaneers use theirs?**

Answer Man: Excellent questions, Chris.

When the new free agency system was instituted in 1993, there were a few options built into the open market that were designed to help teams keep their very best players, if they so desired. Each team was given one franchise tag and two transition tags with which to work.

You're probably familiar with the franchise tag because it is still used – or threatened – very commonly here in the middle of the Aughts. A team can put its franchise tag on a player who is about to become a free agent, and that keeps that player from negotiating with any other team. That's the downside for the player, and the reason it sometimes makes the tagged player a bit peeved. The upside is that the team has to extend an offer sheet that includes a salary for at least one year of the average of the top five highest-paid players at his position. Thus, the player is restricted in his movement but still gets a nice paycheck. If the team can sign that tagged player to a multi-year contract before a certain date early in the offseason, the franchise tag is freed up and can be used again the next year. If the signing comes after that date, the franchise tag remains off limits for the entire length of the contract, even if the player doesn't remain with the team for the entire length of the contract. This is what happened with the Buccaneers and Chidi Ahanotu in the late 1990s.

A transition tag is to a franchise tag roughly as a restricted free agent is to an unrestricted free agent. That is, a team can put a transition tag on a player (and give him an offer equal to the average of the top 10 highest-paid players at his position), but that player can still negotiate for offers with other teams, as O'Donnell did with the Buccaneers. The original team has the option to match that offer, the same way it can match offers to restricted free agents but not unrestricted free agents.

Here's the other way in which transition tags differ from franchise tags. As you surmised above, Chris, they are "one-and-done." That is, each team in the NFL was given two transition tags at the start of the new CBA in 1993, but that was it. Once you've used them, they're gone, never to be renewed, even when the tagged players have their contracts expire.

In the early days of free agency, the majority of the teams around the league saw the transition tags as a way to hold onto their young and rising stars. The Bucs quickly used both of theirs, tagging running back Reggie Cobb and cornerback Ricky Reynolds. No offense to either of those men, both of whom stand among the best at their position in team history, but neither was a Buccaneer beyond 1993. (That is, neither was a Buccaneer player after that; Cobb is now back with the team as a college scout.) Given their relatively quick departures, it's probably fair to say that the Bucs' transition tags didn't amount to much in the long run.

It's not that there were any easy decisions at that time. The Bucs used their franchise tag in 1993 on tackle Paul Gruber, which was obviously an excellent choice. One article from the archives listed Gruber as the 10th best free agent on the market in '93, had he hit that market. He was one of the team's best players and he played one of the most important positions on the field, left tackle, so it was a very defensible choice, even with Testaverde, whose career might be accurately called "star-crossed" at the time, sitting there as another option.

Even that didn't go smoothly, though, as the contract negotiations with Gruber turned into a major problem. The former 1998 first-round pick hadn't missed even one snap in his first five years in the league, but he would sit out the first five games of 1993 as the contract issue was settled. The story had a mostly happy ending, as Gruber eventually played his entire 12-year career for the Buccaneers and is easily considered the best tackle in team history. I say "mostly" because, considering how long he was the good and silent soldier, Gruber's career ended too abruptly. He suffered a broken leg in the Bucs' division title-clinching win in Chicago at the end of the 1999 season and thus missed the team's run to the NFC Championship Game in St. Louis. Gruber retired before the next season.

The Bucs also had several other free agents they could have tagged, including wide receiver Mark Carrier, tackle Rob Taylor, linebacker Jimmy Williams and safety Darrell Fullington. Only Taylor returned to the team in 1993.

So I hope I answered your questions, Chris. I know I enjoyed diving into the archives. Thanks for that.


  1. Isaac of Cleveland, Ohio asks:

**Answer Man, After watching Super Bowl XL, it was obvious that the rulebook was not even being used, but one play brought up a question that I can't find the answer to. There was a long pass from Hasselbeck to, I think, Jackson .... he caught it, got his left foot in-bounds and it looked as if his right food grazed the pylon.

I know that the pylon is considered in-bounds, but does this count as getting a second foot down? If so, shouldn't that play have at least been reviewed, or can this be added to the list of plays that the refs completely fouled up?**

Answer Man: And the hand-wringing over the Super Bowl officiating continues! Before I start, I should disclose that the Answer Man is in the apparently very small minority who thinks this issue has been overblown. I'm not going to dredge up all the other controversial calls and offer my opinions, because that's not what you asked for. I'll just say that the only one that seemed like a complete mistake to the Answer Man was the penalty on Matt Hasselbeck for his "block," which was really a tackle, after he threw an interception. Most of the rest of the issues were judgment calls, and the Answer Man wasn't as insulted by the officials' judgment as many of you appear to be.

Fortunately, the issue to which you refer is not a judgment call but a strict interpretation-of-the-rules issue, and the referees got it right.

I think the problem here is that this rule, and just about anything having to do with the pylons, is confusing and not well-understood by many. I would put it in the same category as the whole "have-to-hold-onto-a-catch-when-you-fall-to-the-ground" issue we've been kicking around in Tampa for the last month and a half. I would guess most of us understand that rule a lot more clearly now than we did in December, even if we don't all agree with it.

The root of the perception problem on this issue, in the Answer Man's opinion, is the number of times we've seen ballcarriers dive near the sideline and manage to touch the pylon as they fly out of bounds, after which they are awarded a touchdown. In this case, the touching of the pylon is an indication that the runner reached the end zone, not that he established possession in-bounds. The runner already had possession inbounds, which is the same reason a ball extended over the goal line and then slapped away is not a fumble, but a ball dropped as in Edell Shepherd's case is an incompletion.

The pylon, however, is not technically in-bounds, according to the league, so touching it with your second foot is not the same as getting that second foot down inbounds. Now, had Darrell Jackson got that second foot down in-bounds at, say, the two-inch line and then, as he fell diagonally forward and out of bounds, tapped the pylon with his foot, that contact would have given him a touchdown. The foot down would have made the catch valid (assuming he held on as he hit the ground) and the foot on the pylon would have put him in the end zone.

If you don't believe the Answer Man, pick up the February 20 issue of Sports Illustrated, in which the extremely well-informed Peter King says the same thing.

Also, for evidence that the pylon is not inbounds, I refer you to the Buccaneers' 25-0 win at Baltimore on September 15, 2002…the first win in the Bucs' successful pursuit of the Super Bowl title that year. In that game, on the first play of the third quarter, quarterback Chris Redman and running back Jamal Lewis botched an attempted handoff at their own 22. The ball bounced backward with several Bucs, including safety John Lynch, in hot pursuit. Lynch eventually got the ball, but not until just a moment after it had hit the pylon and bounced off, staying in-bounds. The play was ruled a safety, which means the act of hitting the pylon both established that the ball was in the end zone and that it was out-of-bounds. If the pylon was in-bounds, then Lynch would have had a touchdown.

So, the officials got that call right in Detroit. Let's agree to disagree on the rest of the Super Bowl officiating and hopefully let the issue die.


  1. Simon Tomlins of Keele University, United Kingdom:

**Hi Answer Man, I'm glad to see you are still around to keep us going through the long (mostly) dull offseason.

When commentators, analysts, writers etc. mention long drives, why is keeping the defense on the field and wearing them out such a large talking point? Surely the opposition offense is on the field for the same amount of time and playing the same number of plays. Do they not tire?**

Answer Man: I'm sure the offensive guys appreciate you sticking up for them, Simon. As you say, "do they not tire," too? If you prick them, do they not bleed? If you tickle them, do they not laugh? If you take them out by diving at their knees, do they not get really, really mad?

There is no black-and-white answer to your observation, as there might be to a question about, say, breaking the plane of the goal line. But the Answer Man will stick up for the announcers on this one (a rare move on my part). Last week, I was accused of being an NFL league office flak; this week I'll probably be seen as a network shill.

In any event, here goes.

One issue is substitution. Both sides can substitute as much as they want, of course, but the offense is more likely to move running backs, receivers and tight ends in and out then the defense is to shuttle its corners and linebackers. In other words, the offense might have Receiver A run a deep route, on which Cornerback Z has to cover. After the play, Receiver A runs off the field and is replaced by Receiver B, while Cornerback Z stays in. Another deep route would be the first for Receiver B but the second for Cornerback Z.

How about the quarterback? Now, nobody is saying his job is anywhere in the vicinity of "easy" or "non-taxing" or "restful." Still, on many plays he will simply take the snap and hand it off, or take five steps backward and fling his arm forward. On the same play, many of the defenders will be running all over the field, trying to get to where he is going to throw the ball. On a long drive, the quarterback isn't likely to get too tired (no Super Bowl XXXIV jokes, please); rather, he might get in a groove while the defense simultaneously starts to suck wind.

On the other hand, Simon, you may have a point when it comes to line play. Teams rarely substitute for their offensive linemen at all; barring injury, the five starters usually play every offensive snap. Defensive linemen, on the other hand, do substitute, especially at defensive end. So you would think that, in the trenches, the offensive linemen might tire out first during a long drive. However, let's think a little bit about what those two types of linemen do on a specific play. On passing plays, the offensive lineman is mainly concerned with holding his position, while the defensive linemen wants to get upfield. They both expend energy in their hand-to-hand combat, but the defensive linemen probably runs around a lot more, and he also is more likely to end up on the ground in the process of making a tackle.

I asked a Buccaneer scout about this issue, basically wondering if offensive or defensive line is considered a more tiring or grueling position. He said it's the defensive line, mainly because the offensive linemen know what is supposed to happen on a particular play and the defensive linemen are trying to figure it out and react, which means they're running around a lot more. However, without me ever mentioning your main question, he brought up the same point, that announcers always talk about the defense, and not the offense, tiring out.

Here's one more thing that might lead to this particular bit of wisdom being dropped on us listeners fairly often: The difference between offense and defense in the consequences of getting tired out.

If an offense fails because it's tired, it means the drive ends, which is a fairly common occurrence anyway. It might not even be obvious that tiring was the reason for failure. If a receiver runs a route that's not so crisp and a pass that would have been on target is thus out of his reach, the announcer may just interpret it as a bad pass.

If the defense fails because it's tired, the consequences are usually pretty severe. As in, touchdown. And, if a long drive ends in a running back bowling over or racing around several defenders for a touchdown, then it might seem obvious to the announcer that the defenders were tired.

None of this is to say you don't have a valid point, Simon. But, still, I think it's a fair observation, if perhaps one made a bit too commonly, that a long drive may be tiring out the defense and not the offense.

Now, if we could get the announcers to stop referring to end-arounds as reverses, then we'd be accomplishing something.


  1. Brandon of Lehigh, Pennsylvania asks:

So, Mr. Answer Man, how do you think the Bucs will do in the upcoming season? And do you have to go to college in order to get into the NFL draft?

Answer Man: There were two questions I saw over and over in this week's e-mailbag, and Brandon's first one above was one of them. "How are we going to do in the upcoming season?"

Well, I've explained this before but it bears repeating: The Answer Man really isn't here to answer those type of subjective, prediction type questions. Two reasons for that. One, who really cares what I think? And, two, my column appears on the team's official web site, and that's not a forum for making value judgments about our own squad.

That being said, one David Tweedy reminded me in an e-mail this week that I did answer that basic question last year at about this same time. Of course, when you go back to Series 2, Volume 6 for that original question, you'll see that I answered it with one word – "yes" – which was meant as a joke. That is, of course a Buccaneer employee is going to think his team is going to the playoffs. Mr. Tweedy then asked for a more fleshed-out answer the next week, to which I basically responded the same as I did above.

So, well, yeah I think the Bucs are going to the playoffs in 2006. But of course I do. Ask me again next February and see what I say.

The other repeated question in my mailbag this week was one I will be seeing over and over for the next two months: "Who are the Bucs going to draft." I'm sorry, but you won't see me answer that one, no matter how many times it is sent in. Again, there are two reasons. One, I don't really know. There are probably only about five or six people who really know which players the Bucs are truly targeting, and sadly, I'm not one of them. And two, if for some reason I did know, I wouldn't make any friends around here by revealing it. Again, remember that this is the Buccaneers' official team web site we're sharing at this moment.

Okay, now you did include one question that I am willing to answer, Brandon. Isn't that wonderful?

As a reminder to other readers who don't want to scroll back up, that question was, in effect, can you get into the NFL Draft without going to college?

The answer is yes, though you can't go directly from high school into the Draft. If you don't go to college, you aren't eligible for the draft until four years after your high school graduation (or when your class graduated, if you do not graduate from high school). You also have to apply for entry into the draft.

Obviously, going to college gives players a chance to prove themselves in an arena in which NFL scouts will take notice. If you don't go to college, you're still going to have to play somewhere. On rare occasions, a player with NFL-level skills ends up in semi-pro ball somewhere, as was the case with Eric Swann, the former Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle. Here's what the Answer Man said about Swann last January in Series 2, Volume 2:

Probably the most well-known NFL player of the last 20 years who did not go to college was defensive tackle Eric Swann, who played nine seasons for the Cardinals and one final year (2000) for the Panthers. A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Swann originally signed to play college ball at North Carolina State, but was ruled academically ineligible. Rather than enrolling as a "Prop 48" student, he moved to Raleigh and began working odd jobs and attending Wake Technical College. Swann eventually started playing for the Bay State Titans of the Minor League Football System, which didn't pay but did provide jobs for its players. Swann lugged pipe for an electric company and ran errands for a restaurant. He proved with the Titans that he was an NFL-caliber player, and the Cardinals drafted him sixth overall in 1991.


  1. Luca Pasculli of Wilderen, Belgium asks:

Yo answer man When I was playing on Madden I was asking myself some questions. Like if a quarterback goes down behind the line of scrimmage with the ball, is that always a sack? And which no. of draft pick do we have this year? Thank you oh knowledgeful one.

Answer Man: I haven't run it yet, but I don't think "knowledgeful" is going to pass the Spell Check. Still, it was a nice thing to say, Luca.

That being said, I think most NFL fans could answer that first question, and most Buc fans could fill you in on the second. But it's my job, not theirs, so here goes.

No, it is not a sack every time the quarterback is tackled behind the line of scrimmage. Most of the time, but not always. The determining factor is whether or not it was a designed passing play or not on which the tackle occurred.

If a quarterback drops back to pass and is tackled, then yes, that is a sack. However, if he were to, say, try to sneak it over the middle and get hit two yards behind the line, that would just be a tackle. Or a tackle-for-loss to be specific, though neither is an official NFL statistic, as we discussed at some length in Volume 19 in December of 2004.

That latter play is a running play by the quarterback, and no sack can be awarded on a running play. Also, there are no sacks on aborted plays. That is, if the quarterback fumbles the snap and has to fall on it, and is then touched down by a defender, that is not a sack, even if the play was going to be a pass attempt.

If the quarterback drops back to pass and finds no one open, the starts to scramble around the end to avoid the pass-rushers, that is still a passing play. If a defender gets him down before or at the line of scrimmage, it will be a sack. The only confusion comes when the statistics crew in the press box is unsure whether a play was designed to be a run or a pass.

This comes into play most often when one of the teams has a quarterback who is a gifted runner, like Atlanta's Michael Vick. The Falcons clearly have designed runs for Vick in the playbook, even some out of the shotgun. On one play during the Falcons' visit to Tampa last December, Vick took a shotgun snap and a Buccaneer blitzer was allowed to run in unabated from the right side. Vick then ran around left end. The stat crew might have interpreted that as the blitzer forcing Vick to give up on the pass and scramble, but in fact this play was a designed run.

These decisions can be appealed after the game, too. There was a memorable play during the Bucs' Super Bowl season in which safety John Howell dragged Vick down for a loss on what appeared to be a sack on a perfectly-timed blitz. In fact, however, Vick was about to try to run the ball around the right side (and he would have had a lot of open field had Howell not hung on).

The play looked like a sack and was ruled one by the stat crew in the Buccaneers' press box. However, the Falcons' coaching staff alerted the Elias Sports Bureau on Monday that the play was supposed to be a run and thus Howell's tackle was changed to be just that, a tackle. Elias, the NFL's official statistics service, doesn't just take a team's word for it on these occasions, however. There are a variety of cues that one can look for when watching a play on film to determine whether it was going to be a run or a pass, most notably the early movements of the offensive linemen. If they are dropping back onto their heels and waiting for contact, it was probably going to be a passing play. If they were surging forward at the snap, it was probably going to be a running play.

As to your second question, Luca, the Bucs have the 23rd pick in the first round of this year's NFL Draft. They are actually tied with four other teams in a grouping of rotating picks, though they start out at the front of that group. In Round Two, the Bucs will drop to the back of that group, at pick number 27. They will then move up to 26th in the third round, 25th in the fourth round, and so on.


  1. Freeman Johnson of Carson City, Nevada asks:

I am trying to find out if Henry Rollings was ever a linebacker with the Bucs, and if so, when did he retire?

Answer Man: The answer to your question is yes, Freeman, assuming that you were victim of a typo when you wrote "Rollings." The Bucs had a player named Henry Rolling from 1998-99, which is surely to whom you refer.

The Buccaneers drafted Rolling out of Nevada-Reno in the fifth round in 1987, but he wasn't able to play as a rookie due to a hamstring injury. He returned in 1988 to play in 15 games, mostly on special teams. In all, over two seasons with the Buccaneers, Rolling played in 21 games and recorded five tackles, not counting his work in the kicking game.

I can't tell you for sure when Rolling "retired," as many NFL players don't ever formally announce a retirement. After his three years in Tampa, Rolling played five more NFL seasons, three in San Diego (1990-92) and two in Los Angeles with the Rams (1993-94).


Six main questions? That's a little light for the Answer Man, even if the word count is just about as high as ever. I guess I'll have to pile on the "quickies" to get my question count up. As usual, these are submissions that either need little elaboration or have been answered thoroughly enough in previous columns.

  1. Kyle Jones of Baton Rouge, Louisiana asks:

Hey A.M.! I'm seriously confused with this. My question is if a receiver catches the ball in the back of the end zone and slides his feet to make it a catch and has full possession, but drops it when he hits the ground, would it be a catch or incomplete since he dropped? Also would it be a catch or a fumble if the same thing happened in the middle of the field? If you understand my question an answer it you rock! Thanks a lot!

Answer Man: Kyle, I'm not going to go in-depth on this question, because we've discussed it extensively in recent columns, probably at most length in Series 3, Volume 7. Feel free to check it out there; it's right at the top. But to summarize, if a receiver falls during the act of making a catch, he must hold onto the ball through his contact with the ground in order to maintain possession and be granted a catch. The rule is the same everywhere on the field, so both of your scenarios above would be incompletions. The play in the middle of the field would be neither a catch nor a fumble.


  1. Patricia Marcinczyk of Swedesboro, New Jersey asks:

My 9 year old son is a HUGE Tampa Bay fan. We are coming to the area in May and I would like to find out if any types of Stadium or other tours are available. Any Tampa Bay Bucs sightseeing ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Answer Man: The Tampa Sports Authority does provide tours of Raymond James Stadium, Patricia. Click here for more information.


  1. James Carr of Essex, United Kingdom asks:

Can you pass the ball more than once on one play?

Answer Man: No, you cannot, at least not more than one forward pass. In the NFL Rulebook, Rule 8, Section 1, Article 1 says:

The offensive team may make one forward pass from behind the line during each play from scrimmage provided the ball does not cross the line and return behind the line prior to the pass. (a) Any other forward pass by either team is illegal and is a foul by the passing team.


  1. Damon of Costa Mesa, California asks:

I know you have discussed the salary cap and the implications of cutting or trading a player, but how does a retirement affect the cap number?

Answer Man: Actually, I think we've discussed every possible permutation of the cap and a player leaving your team at some point or another. Here in Series 2, Volume 11 we answered your question. In short, a retiring player affects the cap the same way as a player being cut.


  1. Bozic of Sydney, Australia asks:

**Hello Mr. Answer, I live in Australia and here we're not really accustomed to NFL, although I am a very big supporter of Tampa.

I'm just curious as to who was the first ever Buccaneer to gain over 1,000 rush yards as well as 1,000 yards receiving? This question's probably been answered but it would still be good if you answered it, thanks champion you're doing a brilliant job.**

Answer Man: No, thank you, Bozic. Anyway, the first 1,000-yard rusher in Buccaneer history was Ricky Bell, who gained 1,263 yards in 1979. The Bucs' first 1,000-yard receiver came two years later, when Kevin House got 1,176 in 1981.


  1. Travis of Colorado Springs, Colorado asks, I guess:


Answer Man: As the fifth soup ingredient? No. As a popular salad bar choice? No. As a good punchline? No. In fact, Travis, apricots are never the right answer.


Okay, if we're fielding that last one, it's obviously time to close up shop for the day. The upcoming NFL Scouting Combine may push the Answer Man off schedule a little bit, but keep the questions coming because I'll get to them eventually. Thanks again for keeping my mailbag full of interesting issues. Until next time.

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