He has invented plays in the shower and while driving. In a practice session for striking players during the recent work stoppage, DeBerg whipped up Razzle Dazzle, a double reverse. He sketched the play on a grocery bag he found on the field. In the Bucs' first post-strike game, against the Chicago Bears, Perkins called Razzle Dazzle. Result: a 28-yard touchdown pass from DeBerg to running back Jeff Smith.
"I've never wished that my career would've gone differently," DeBerg says. "I've never said I got a raw deal. I've played a lot more than most. I haven't accomplished what I could have. But, hey, I wasn't supposed to make it one year, let alone 11. I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to get the opportunity to play in the NFL. And I am lucky to have learned from every coach I played for and every quarterback I competed against." Here is what he has to say about some of them:
?Former Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach: "The most influential person in my career. He opened up to me, explained everything. Then I watched him do it. He taught me that defenses were reading me as much as I was reading them. He shared little tricks. He didn't have to do that. He taught me to help anybody I competed with."
? San Francisco coach Bill Walsh: "The most creative coach of my career and the best teacher. He actually experiences a play when he draws it on a chalkboard. He makes something complicated seem simple."
? Montana: "Quickest feet in football. I called him Broadway Joe. He called me Ice. We were roommates in training camp and on the road. He, Dwight Clark and I were the Three Musketeers. We always had quarters in our pockets, ready to compete in video games."
? Denver coach Dan Reeves: "A players' coach. Doesn't put himself on a pedestal and out of reach. He has a personal relationship with everybody."
?Elway: "In practice, I'd study his biomechanics to find out how he could throw the ball so hard. He has the quickest shoulder and hip rotation of any quarterback. I practiced it. As a rookie, John was supposed to be the best in the NFL. He had so much pressure on him. I wish we could have been together under different circumstances. We would've been better friends."
?Young: "Loves football with a passion. Could play running back, receiver, defensive back or return kicks. The two of us in the backfield with [ Bucs running back] James Wilder would've revolutionized football."
?Testaverde: "I've never seen a quarterback so committed to weight training. He's the strongest quarterback in football, maybe in NFL history. On the field he's similar to Elway. But I'm not sure yet who's going to be better."
? Perkins: "He asks a lot from his players, but he makes 45 times as much of a commitment. I don't know how successful we'll be as a team this season, but we already have a different attitude. Perkins has made football fun again."