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A lesson learned in futility?

Just as limited with his player options in 1977
Just as limited with his player options in 1977

History is the great teacher. Someone once said those that do not learn history, are doomed to repeat it. If you look right when crossing a road but get hit by a car from the left, you will learn to look left too when crossing in the future. 

Today's history lesson is one in futility, and how it manages to repeat itself. And how short-sighted people who cry "Fire" always seem to be the one to carry the torch for the nearsighted.

By now we all know about the Bucs 0-26 history. They lost every game in their first year, and lost every game in their second, up till the last two. On the second to the last game they beat the Saints and then came home and beat the Cardinals to end the year. Most of the losses in 1977 (the second year) were simple 10-0 versions. The Bucs had a good defense, but they did so my putting all their efforts in that area, and did so at the expense of the offense. The Bucs offense simply had no playmakers, none at all really. In 1977, they drafted Ricky Bell, but he was hurt alot, as the Offensive line was, well, offensive. 

Consider this...


  • 6 times out of a 14 game schedule the Bucs were shut out
  • 3 times they scored only 7 points
  • two more times they scored only a FG


Trust me, the 2009 Bucs would have beat the 1977 variety 24-3!

But this is ancient history, and we know the reasons why. The Bucs were an expansion team, they had limited players, if at all. And the ones they did, were stacked up on the defensive side of the ball. The defense finished ranked 13th of 28 teams. They would be 4th in 1978, and number 1 in 1979. The offense would continue to improve because in 1978 playmakers were added to the other side of the ball, guys like Doug Williams, Jimmy Giles, a few linemen, Jerry Eckwood ( a Warrick Dunn type runner).  So it was a no brainer why the  Bucs of 1977 stunk....they had no players on offense. And no matter what you tried to do, you just had to wait until the next year before things could get better.

Sound familiar? Sound like 2009 at all? If so, then you will find the criticism similar as well. This is from a St. Pete Times article published after the 5th week of 1977 when the Bucs lost to the Washington Redskins 0-10 in Tampa Stadium:

" There is no doubt (Head Coach John) McKay  has a large edge on the rest of  us (reporters) in football knowledge and length of experience. But there is also no doubt McKay's system of offense is not working in the National Football League."

Really? Because John McKay had never coached in the NFL, it was assumed his offense was just for colleges and could not work in the pros. Of course, we know better, as the Bucs Won the Central Division twice and went to the playoffs 3 out of 4 years from 1979-1982. Understandably, they did not have that knowledge back then.

But you would think they could have seen that the players were the culprits, not the coaches. You have all of these no name players on offense, that you know are either scrubs off other teams unwanted lists, or very young rookies, but they expected them to put 21 on the Washington Redskins with Billy Kilmer at QB?

We have heard the criticism this year, the frustration we have towards our Bucs, these same Bucs as from back then. Its mostly done in the same form of ignorance. No we are not an expansion team, but we are rebuilding from scratch, so the  differences are minor if at all. You cannot expect to compete in the NFL with players that are not up to full calibur. 

These Suggestions rang out from Ron Martz, the Times Sports Columnist from back then:


  • If the system is at fault, get rid of it and get one that works in the Pros.
  • If the Coaches are at fault, get rid of them.
  • If the players are at fault, why not get rid of them and get some who can perform.


That brilliant thinking comes from an era that predates free agency, where a player who is drafted by a team has a great chance they will never play for another team in their career. The Bucs have the ability to also add players via this method, but drafting, just as in 1977, is still the best method for building a team. 

Short-sightedness it would seem, is immune from the lessons of history.




Source: St. Pete Times Tuesday, October 11, 1977 Section C "McKay takes great offense at 'idiot's' questions".