Around the league, the release of Michael Spurlock didn’t make headlines. To many, Spurlock is just another player without a team. He was a receiver who rarely caught the ball – as evidenced by his 4 career receptions (all with the Arizona Cardinals in 2006). He had some success as a kick returner, but again, it was nothing to write home about. But to Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans, Michael Spurlock was much, much more.
Being a Bucs fan all my life, I’ve experienced many painful moments. Throughout the early years, Tampa Bay was a laughing stock at times. Despite some success, the franchise underachieved for the most part. Then along came Tony Dungy and the Bucs’ fortunes changed. Out with the orange and in with the pewter, it was suddenly fun to be a fan. It all culminated in 2002 when the Bucs won the Super Bowl – something I personally was beginning to think would never happen. With that trophy, many of the old memories were forgotten. Vinny Testaverde…gone. Alvin Harper…gone. Hugh Culverhouse…gone. I had new, glorious memories. Everything seemed right. In the years following the Super Bowl win, the Bucs had their ups and downs. But after 2002, at least I had hope in being a Bucs’ fan. For every bad play, there was a good one. Expect for one tiny, little item…
The dreaded kickoff returns. If you’d ever seen a Tampa Bay game prior to last season, you were aware of the streak. Every time the Bucs lined up to field a kickoff, some announcer would say "do you realize the Bucs have never returned a kick for a touchdown?" Yes! We knew. We all knew.
But that would all change on the 1,865th kickoff in franchise history (according to the team…some other sources claim the number to be different, but either way, we can all agree it was a very, VERY long time). On December 16, 2007 against the Atlanta Falcons, Michael Spurlock became a hero. Spurlock would field the kick on the 10-yard line and take off, going 90 yards for the score. The streak was over. The curse was broken. The Bucs had finally scored on a kickoff return!
And now – sadly – Spurlock is gone. We can’t expect the Bucs to keep him forever. After all, the team did draft Dexter Jackson this year with the hope that he can return kicks for many years to come. But we can thank Spurlock and bid him farewell. Thank you Michael for breaking the streak and for allowing all of us fans to watch a Bucs’ game and not have to see the stat pop up on the screen telling us exactly how many kicks Tampa Bay has without a touchdown. Because of you, we have our touchdown.
One of the greatest moments in Bucs' history provided by Michael Spurlock: