My Tampa Bay Buccaneers have seen some hard times. Over the years, they had their fair share of bad luck.
- They survived being totally shut out their opening season (0-14, 1976).
- They drafted Hall of Famer Steve Young and then traded him because they had drafted Vinny Testaverde, who they also traded away.
- Tony Dungy coached the team for five years and built one of the most dominant defenses of the 1990s and yet could not get to the Super Bowl or even to the NFC championship.
- They were winless in cold weather for years.
- They struggled to put together an offense for decades.
They are indeed one of the most hapless teams in the NFL, despite their Super Bowl XXXVIII victory over the Oakland Raiders. But more than any other terrible record they hold, one has been supreme. The Buccaneers simply cannot return kickoffs for touchdowns.
Every other team in the NFL has done it at least once in their history. Over the past thirty-two years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have returned 1,684 kickoffs without a touchdown. They have had wide receivers, running backs, safeties, and corner backs try. But none could do it.
And on Sunday, along came Michael Spurlock. An undrafted free agent who was signed by the Falcons last year, Spurlock has been pure mediocrity. He was a quarterback, a wide receiver and a running back in college. He was just an average player destined for the abyss of the NFL bench.
Then history happened and Spurlock was catapulted into Bucs legend. After kicking a field goal six minutes and thirty-two seconds into the first quarter of their game, the Atlanta Falcons’ place kicker, Morten Anderson, booted the kick off into Spurlock’s hands at his own 10 yard line. Behind a wall of well-thrown blocks, Spurlock danced and sprinted his way down the right sideline and into the endzone. Suddenly, the curse was broken and we Bucs fans were pinching ourselves. Finally, the curse is gone.