- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
That lesson didn't come cheaply for Tampa Bay, which overspent in signing wideouts Alvin Harper and Bert Emanuel and tight end Jackie Harris from 1994 through '98. Even this year the Bucs brought in a pair of pricey veterans—wideout Keyshawn Johnson by way of a trade and center Jeff Christy in free agency—and continue to struggle offensively. "The bottom line is that you should do everything you can not to be a hostage to free agency? says Tampa Bay director of player personnel Jerry Angelo. "There are many more perils in free agency than in the draft, and those perils can be fatal."
This month marks the 40th anniversary of a record that looks well-nigh unbreakable: Johnny Unitas's streak of throwing a touchdown pass in 47 straight games, which came to an end on Dec. 11, 1960. "It's equivalent to the DiMaggio hitting streak," says Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. "To break this record, you'd have to throw a touchdown pass every game for three years."
Manning had gotten to 27 games last year when the Colts made a late-season trip to Cleveland. Trailing 28-19 in the fourth quarter with the ball at the Browns' two, Indianapolis offensive coordinator Tom Moore sent in a pass play designed to go to the corner of the end zone. But Manning saw the Cleveland cornerbacks cheating in that direction, so he called an audible. Edgerrin James ran in for a touchdown. End of streak.
"I knew about the record, but I never thought about it when that call came in or when I had to make the checkoff," Manning says. "You do what you're taught to do—make the best call to get your team into the end zone. You start thinking about that other stuff, and you'll get yourself in trouble."
Emmitt Smith on a Mission
Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith has never made a secret of his desire to break Walter Payton's career rushing record of 16,726 yards. "I want to leave my footprints on the game," Smith has said. Barring injury or the dismantling of a good line, Smith, whose total after he rushed for 46 yards in Sunday night's loss to the Giants is 15,146 yards, will likely break the record early in the 2002 season, when he's 33.
What then? Look for Smith to stick around a couple of more years and try to put the mark out of the reach of mere mortals, somewhere beyond 18,000 yards. Friends of Smith's say they would be shocked if he retires unless an injury drives him from the game. And with the Cowboys likely to rebuild—probably without beat-up quarterback Troy Aikman—Smith will take on a bigger share of the offensive load. "You know that Snickers commercial, the one where they ask, 'Not goin' anywhere for a while?' " Smith said last week "Well, I'm not goin' anywhere for a while."