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Reactions
CNNSI.com asked if Bucs fans had any opinions on the subject. And guess what ... they did.

Click here to read a sampling of what CNNSI.com users had to say 

 
Sports fans love to reminisce over the days where it all went wrong: the wasted draft pick, the tragic trade or the defecting hero. These may not be, by definition, the worst roster moves ever made, but they were the ones that affected us on a personal level. These are the events that caused -- and still cause -- us to sit on our bar stools and lament the cruel twists of life.

For most of their first 20 years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the laughingstock of the NFL. CNNSI.com's Ryan Hunt says it's easy to see why. Whether it was failing to sign No. 1 pick Bo Jackson, shipping future Hall of Famer Steve Young to San Francisco, five consecutive years of draft disasters, jettisoning off heroes Doug Williams and James Wilder and acquiring the notorious Alvin Harper and Booker Reese, the Bucs had a long list of painful transactions that directly led to many painful years.

 
June 21
1986 
No. 1 pick Bo Jackson signs with baseball's Kansas City Royals, officially spurning the Buccaneers
 
  Bo Jackson Bo Jackson never knew Tampa Bay.  Rick Stewart/Allsport
 

Heisman Heroes
  • Bo Knows Heisman 

  • The Buccaneers were well aware of Bo Jackson's love for baseball, but remained confident they could sign the No. 1 pick of the 1986 NFL Draft. But when the Heisman Trophy winner threw the Bucs a curveball, it was a strikeout that cost Tampa Bay for years.

    It could have been the Bucs' ultimatum to choose football or baseball that ultimately cost them. Or it could have been the fact that Jackson was not fond of then-Tampa Bay owner Hugh Culverhouse.

    Regardless, Jackson never played for the Bucs, turning down a five-year $7.6 million offer -- at the time the highest salary offered to a rookie -- and accepting a three-year $1.066 million deal to play baseball for the Kansas City Royals. One year later, Jackson decided to play football as an offseason "hobby," re-entered the draft and was selected in the seventh round by the L.A. Raiders. He went on to become the pre-eminent two-sport star of this generation.

    And although Jackson played only four NFL seasons -- never rushing for more than 1,000 yards -- before suffering a career-ending hip injury, Bucs fans never will stop wondering what could have been.

    April 24
    1987 
    Tampa Bay trades QB Steve Young to San Francisco for 1987 second- (Winston Moss) and fourth-round (Bruce Hill) picks
     
      Steve Young     Steve Young only won three games as a starter in Tampa Bay.  Glenn Cratty/Allsport

     

    Statitudes
  • Bucs to the Bowl 
  • Ironically, it was the Bucs' ability to sign a Heisman Trophy-winning No. 1 pick that made a future Hall of Fame quarterback expendable.

    After signing Vinny Testaverde to a mega-contract three weeks prior to the '87 Draft, Young was dealt to San Francisco for second- and fourth-round picks, which turned out to be Winston Moss and Bruce Hill.

    Moss and Hill had solid stints in Tampa Bay. Moss spent four seasons in Tampa; Hill was a Buc for five years, owning one of the four 1,000-yard seasons in Tampa Bay history. As for Young, he had a pretty good career in San Francisco.

    Although Young was only 3-16 as a starter in Tampa Bay, he had very little to work with. But the biggest thing Young didn't have with the Bucs was a chance.

      Uneven exchange:
    49ers stole best Bucs had to offer

    St. Petersburg Times -- April 25, 1987
    By Tom Zucco

    Somewhere out in San Francisco, maybe at this very moment, Bill Walsh is sitting in his office and he's wearing a grin as wide as the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Steve Young is now a member of Walsh's 49ers. Free at last -- and for the incredibly low, will-not-be-repeated, not-available-in-stores price of a second- and a fourth-round pick in Tuesday's NFL draft, plus at least $ 550,000 in cash. Laugh it up, coach. Unless old presidents can jump off wads of bills and play football, you just closed the deal of the century.

    Maybe Young didn't post All-Pro statistics during his two seasons with the Bucs. And maybe his arm will never rival that of Dan Marino, John Elway, or his new teammate, Joe Montana.

    It's hard to say. His career is just beginning. So far, Young's only crimes are that he's had lousy coaching, a pathetic supporting cast, and the supreme misfortune to be on the same team with Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde.  

     
    1989-93  NFL Draft disasters: Tampa Bay's first-round busts
     
      Thomas, McCants, Curry Broderick Thomas, Keith McCants and Eric Curry (left to right) were supposed to resurrect the Bucs' defense. Allen Dean Steele, Otto Greule Jr./Allsport

    The Buccaneers have had plenty of chances to make top 10 picks. More times than not, they've screwed it up. From 1989-93, Tampa Bay had little to show for its five high picks.

    The quartet of Broderick Thomas (1989), Keith McCants ('90), Charles McRae ('91) and Eric Curry ('93) never amounted to much, each lasting five seasons or fewer. Among the players the Bucs passed on: Steve Atwater ('89), Junior Seau and Emmitt Smith ('90), Herman Moore ('91) and Willie Roaf ('93).

    Trading a pick turned out to be an even bigger disaster. In 1992, the Bucs dealt their first-round pick to Indianapolis for Chris Chandler. The pick turned out to be the top selection in the draft (Steve Emtman -- a bust in his own right), while Chandler lasted only 1 1/2 seasons before getting released outright. He never won a single game for the Buccaneers.

     
    August 11
    1986 
    QB Doug Williams leaves for the USFL; Bucs later trade his rights for '87 fifth-round pick (Tony Mayes)
     
      Doug Williams Doug Williams led the Bucs to the 1979 NFC title game.  
    To this day, Doug Williams is the most successful quarterback in Bucs history. But it was his departure that signaled the beginning of more than 15 years of depression in Tampa Bay -- also known as Doug Williams' curse.

    After leading the Bucs to the playoffs three times in five seasons, Williams left for the USFL after a nasty contract dispute with Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse.

    With the demise of the USFL, Williams' rights were eventually dealt to the Redskins for a fifth-round pick in the 1987 draft, which turned out to be safety Tony Mayes. Mayes didn't make it through training camp; Williams led Washington to a victory in Super Bowl XXII.

    The Bucs did not make the playoffs again until 1997.

      Robert Garrett, Atlanta
    "When the Bucs lost Doug Williams because then-owner Hugh Culverhouse was a cheapskate, I trashed all of my Creamsicle orange Bucs merchandise. I was only able to watch the Bucs again after Culverhouse died. Thank goodness the new owners can be called many things except cheap"

     

     
    March 8
    1995 
    Tampa Bay signs free-agent WR Alvin Harper
     
    Alvin Harper Alvin Harper had only one 100-yard game in Tampa Bay.  Jonathan Daniel/Allsport  
    Alvin Harper came in with high expectations. He left as one of the biggest busts in Bucs history. Signed to a four-year, $10.6 million deal in 1995, Harper lasted only two seasons in Tampa Bay -- catching only 65 passes and three touchdowns.

    Perhaps the most telling moment in the Harper era wasn't even on the field. In 1996, Harper lost a piece of the tip of his left middle finger when a trainer inadvertently cut it with scissors while applying athletic tape.

    Harper is now in the XFL.

      It's time for Harper to run an out
    St. Petersburg Times -- December 3, 1996
    By Gary Sheltom

    Okay, Alvin, you're in.

    All these weeks, you see, you haven't been underused. The Bucs have just been saving you. This is the way football is. You wait until the right time, and then you call the right play. This time, Alvin, it's up to you.

    Go long, Alvin.

    Waaaaaay long.

    And, uh, drop your playbook by the office on your way out.

    It is time Harper left, and even he knows it. If there were any warm and fuzzy feelings left between a player who busted and a team that helped it along, they ran out Sunday. A situation that was uncomfortable has become intolerable.

    Harper doesn't play, and he doesn't care. If the first one of those doesn't bother you about Harper, a $ 10-million man who has not been worth the price of a single ticket, the second one ought to. ... Harper should feel about a thousand things, none of them very good.

    He ought to feel ashamed. He is on the sideline watching waiver-wire grads and undrafted free agents and development squad survivors play. He has more talent than the lot of them, and yet he has played his way to the bench.

    He ought to feel remorse, because he is being paid more per ounce of production than anyone in the history of this league. The strangest thing about his presence on the bench is that no one can blame the coaches for putting him there.

    He ought to feel angry, ready to fight his way to the field because he wants so badly to be the great player the Bucs thought they had signed. Instead, he has no problem with taking money for nothing. Which is the worst problem of all.  

     
    March 7
    1990 
    RB James Wilder signs with Washington
     
      James Wilder James Wilder has four of the top eight rushing games in Tampa Bay history. Scott Halleran/Allsport
    Through the 1980s, James Wilder and Lee Roy Selmon were arguably the two most revered Buccaneers. But unlike Selmon, Wilder's nine-year career in Tampa Bay ended all too unceremoniously.

    After being left unprotected by the Buccaneers, Wilder was signed by the Redskins as a Plan B free agent after rushing for only 244 yards in 1989. He then was traded to division rival Detroit early in the 1990 season, finishing his career as Barry Sanders' backup for one season.

    But the Wilder move, as with many moves in the Culverhouse era, was about money. Even in the downside of his career, Wilder -- who still holds nearly every Bucs career and single-season rushing record, including 1,544 yards in 1984 -- should have finished up in Tampa Bay.

    April 27
    1982 
    Tampa Bay trades a future No. 1 pick to select Booker Reese in second round of '82 Draft
     
    And then there is the ultimate Bucs blunder -- drafting the wrong player at the 1982 NFL Draft. The team's representative in New York, an equipment manager, handed the wrong card in, selecting Sean Farrell instead of defensive end Booker Reese.

    To correct the error, they immediately sent a 1983 first-round pick to Chicago for a second-round pick to pick Reese.

    Fittingly, Farrell became a solid player and Reese is arguably the biggest bust in team history -- lasting only three seasons and starting only seven games. After Reese was arrested in 1984, the Bucs finally cut ties with him, shipping the lineman to the L.A. Rams for a 12th-round pick in 1984.


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