A lot of NFL players are rolling in dough, but Buccaneer punter Reggie Roby is one of the few who's rolling dough. Coming soon, to a restaurant near you (if you live in Tampa or other parts of Florida), will be Reggie Roby's All-Pro Cookies. Roby and his wife, Melissa, do the baking, with the help of Jos� Garciga, a local caterer whose clients include the Bucs. "We're pretty small right now," Roby says. But down the road Roby plans to add employees so he can expand his distribution base.
Roby, who's in his first year with the Bucs after 10 years with the Dolphins and two with the Redskins, tests his product twice a week in the locker room. "Everybody on the team loves my cookies," Roby says. "Up to now, they've been getting free samples. But I've told them, 'From now on, orders only.' They're already placing their Christmas orders."
The 34-year-old Roby even has his own Cookie Monster, so to speak. That would be Ray Guy, the punter par excellence with the Raiders from 1973 to '86. As a teenager in Waterloo, Iowa, Roby idolized Guy and worked to emulate his remarkable distance and hang time. So you can imagine Roby's disappointment when during his rookie season, Guy snubbed him before a 1983 Dolphins-Raiders game.
"It wasn't a great meeting," Roby says. "I introduced myself and told him how much I admired him, but he just sort of looked away. I'll never forget that. I swore then that I'd stay in the league longer than he did and that I would beat his lifetime average. It's been a motivational thing for me. But I still think he's the best punter ever."
Guy punted 14 seasons, a mark that Roby is on target to tie next season. Moreover, Roby is on track to top Guy's career average of 42.4 yards per punt. Heading into 1995, Roby had a 43.5-yard average, putting him 11th alltime in the league ( Sammy Baugh holds the record with 45.1). This season he is averaging 44.5 yards per kick, which leaves him comfortably ahead of Larry Swider's franchise record of 42.7, set in 1981.
Roby still wonders why the Redskins did not re-sign him after the 1994 season. All he did on a career-high 82 punts was average 44.4 yards, second best in the league and the best by a Redskin punter since 1959. In the process he became the first Washington punter to be selected to the Pro Bowl since 1956. Regardless, he's happy to be with Tampa Bay, which he regards as a team on the rise. He also is quick to point out that as far as atmospheric conditions are concerned, punting regularly in a warm-weather climate is the next best thing to punting in a dome.
How long will he continue punting?
"You see a lot of punters getting drafted," Roby says, "but I'm going to keep on going until I can see somebody come along who kicks better than me."
Nevertheless, Roby is preparing for life after football. He is working on an instructional video for punters and plans on conducting clinics around the country this off-season with Tampa Bay kicker Michael Husted. He is also designing a special shoe for punters and soccer players. "I've talked to each punter around the league," Roby says, "and I'm trying to take a little bit of what everybody says and put it in one shoe. I change shoes five or six times a year because I still haven't found one I like."
And then there's the cookie business. Roby took his mother's recipe for sugar cookies and tinkered with it for four or five years. Now he can bake "any type cookie you can think of." Rookie defensive tackle Warren Sapp, whom Roby rates as the team's No. 1 cookie connoisseur, is partial to oatmeal-raisin-walnut. Lots of them. "Every day he comes around looking for cookies," Roby says. "I've seen him eat 12 at a time."