Worst moments in Tampa Bay Buccaneer history

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The Buccaneers drafted Bo Jackson No. 1 overall in 1986 only to have him refuse to play for the organization. (AP)
The Buccaneers drafted Bo Jackson No. 1 overall in 1986 only to have him refuse to play for the organization. (AP)

What are the worst moments for each NFL franchise? Yahoo Sports provides our opinion, which you are free to disagree with (and we’re sure you will).

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5. Testaverde flirts with the wrong kind of history

There was no doubt who would be picked first in the 1987 NFL draft — Vinny Testaverde, fresh off winning the Heisman Trophy and and just about every other award a college quarterback can win. But Tampa Bay Buccaneers brass and fans realized pretty quickly that Testaverde would not become a franchise savior.

Taken No. 1 overall by Tampa Bay in the 1987 draft, Testaverde approached the wrong kind of record in Year 2. He threw 5 interceptions in a season-opening loss to the Eagles en route to 35 on the year, still the second-most in NFL history (only behind George Blanda’s 42). He cut the number down to 22 the following year, which was still enough to lead the league.

Testaverde spent six years with the Buccaneers, throwing more INTs (112) than TDs (77) and never reaching the playoffs or Pro Bowl in that span.

4. Monday night collapse vs. Colts

The ’03 Buccaneers could definitely serve as poster children for “Super Bowl hangover.”

Shortly after beating down the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII, reports began to surface about a strained relationship between coach Jon Gruden and general manager Rich McKay, with the latter leaving the Bucs in December 2003 for the rival Atlanta Falcons.

In November, the Bucs deactivated wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who had also bumped heads with Gruden, for the final six games and traded him to the Dallas Cowboys in the offseason. In between all of the drama was one of the worst collapses in NFL history.

With former coach Tony Dungy making his return to Tampa as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, the Bucs led 35-14 with four minutes remaining. Instead of a Bucs victory, what followed were touchdowns by James Mungro, Marvin Harrison and Ricky Williams (the other one) to tie the score at 35 and send the game to overtime, where Indy prevailed 38-35.

3. Wasted No. 1 draft pick

“With the No. 1 pick in the 1986 NFL draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers … ” threw away their selection.

Three years after John Elway refused to play for the Baltimore Colts, another two-sport star used the threat of playing baseball to attempt to dissuade the team with the No. 1 pick from drafting him. But in the case of Bo Jackson, the threat indeed became reality.

Jackson’s disdain for the Bucs was sparked by his belief that they intentionally sabotaged his college baseball career by flying him on owner Hugh Culverhouse’s jet to visit the franchise and take a physical. Though Tampa claimed it checked with the NCAA and SEC, Jackson was ruled ineligible midway through Auburn’s baseball season for violating NCAA rules of amateurism.

“He became very disenchanted with the Culverhouse operation,” former Auburn baseball coach Hal Baird told the Tampa Bay Tribune. “If you know Bo Jackson, he’s nothing if not a man of principle. Once it got in his mind that that might have been calculated, he was never playing a snap for them.”

And he never did. Instead, he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals, was in the major leagues by September of that year and Tampa no longer owned his rights by the time the ’87 NFL draft rolled around. He did eventually play in the NFL – as well as become an All-Star outfielder in baseball – for the Los Angeles Raiders before suffering a career-ending injury.

2. 0-for-26

Expectations typically aren’t high for a first-year expansion team, but winning at least one game doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

Tampa, which had been shutout five times over the course of the season and outscored 91-16 in its previous two games, lost 31-14 to the New England Patriots to finish its inaugural season 0-14. Twelve more consecutive defeats were added to the ledger the next season before the Bucs were finally in the win column.

1. Controversial incompletion in ‘99 NFC title game

Before the ecstasy of winning it in all in 2003, Tampa experienced the misery of falling short of the Super Bowl three seasons earlier.

Tampa’s defense had done the unthinkable – keep the mighty St. Louis Rams offense in check. Yet, still trailing by five points late in the fourth quarter, the Buccaneers were on the move. Bucs quarterback Shaun King hit Bert Emanuel for an apparent 12-yard pickup inside the Rams’ territory. However, the catch was overturned by the officials after a replay review because the tip of the ball hit the ground as Emanuel was tackled. Emanuel appeared to have control of the ball, but once it touched the ground, officials applied part of a rule that stipulates the ground could not assist in making a catch and therefore disallowed Emanuel’s reception.

The Bucs turned the ball over on downs after incompletions on the next two plays, ending their hopes of an improbable upset and unlikely Super Bowl appearance.

The controversy led to a change in the rules that offseason, allowing for a catch to count if the receiver was determined to have possession, even if part of the ball touched the ground.

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