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1982 Buccaneers Season 7 Schedule

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1982 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Season 7 Brief

The 1982 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were regarded for the first time as a regular playoff contender. They were considered by some to be the best Buccaneer team yet, despite a mediocre offensive line and the lack of a feature running back. The team played only two games before the players' union called a labor strike, which resulted in a nine-game season. The season began with a three-game losing streak, as the Buccaneers outplayed their opponent statistically in each game, but showed a tendency for mental errors at crucial moments. The first game in which they were outgained by their opponent was their first win, a franchise-first victory over the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football. The team made a playoff run against a difficult schedule, facing only two opponents with losing records. Their schedule included all four eventual Conference Championship participants. They overcame double-digit deficits to win on last-minute field goals in their final two games (kicker Bill Capece was the NFC's second-leading scorer), and had to survive opponents' last-minute rallies in all five of their victories. In the strike-season playoff format in which the top eight conference teams made the playoffs, the Buccaneers' seventh-place finish gave them a first-round matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. Despite a poor performance by the offense, the Buccaneers carried a 17–16 lead into the fourth quarter, before the Cowboys rallied for a 30–17 victory following a controversial penalty call. This would be the last playoff appearance of the John McKay era, and was followed by 14 consecutive losing seasons.

The year began with longtime defensive coordinator Tom Bass and several players leaving for San Diego. Observers questioned why Bass, who had built the defenses that had ranked at or near the top of the league statistically over the last several years, would leave; and further, why so many of the team's top players and former MVPs had been traded away. The team unveiled a new, Wayne Fontes-designed defensive philosophy, featuring tighter coverage to reduce the number of small gains, and increased blitzing to thwart opponents' practice of double-teaming Lee Roy Selmon. The team continued to be regarded as having one of the quickest, hardest-hitting defenses in the NFL, a defense which ranked first in the NFC. In the later part of the season, the offense began to jell, taking a part in the victories more equal to that which the defense played. In particular, the line allowed the fewest sacks in the league, while providing an improved running game. The offense as a whole developed an ability to rally from deficits. However, they continued to be criticized as overly conservative, as they scored just 9 first-quarter points in their 10 games, and opened up their passing attack only when behind late in games. This became an issue in the playoff loss to Dallas, where Doug Williams was unable to recover from a bad start. Following the season, the Buccaneers were represented by Jimmie Giles, Hugh Green, and Lee Roy Selmon in the Pro Bowl.


An unusually active offseason saw defensive coordinator Tom Bass and several players leaving to join the San Diego Chargers. Potentially embarrassing off-field incidents were avoided when sexual assault charges against guard Greg Roberts were dropped, while an indecent exposure charge against receiver Theo Bell was dropped when the act turned out to have been committed by an imposter who merely claimed to have been Bell. Bell later filed a libel suit against the Associated Press over their reporting of the incident. With the NFLPA contract on the verge of expiring, union officials became angered over the lack of progress in March meetings, and continued to raise the prospect of a strike. Other offseason distractions included an incident in which Hugh Green was arrested for evading police after being pulled over for a speeding ticket, and contract holdouts by Richard Wood and Jimmie Giles. Giles, who threatened retirement, received a verbal commitment to get a contract renegotiation at a later date; while an angry Wood wound up reporting to camp with no guarantee that his contract would be extended beyond 1984. The team was able to negotiate an agreement with the Tampa Sports Authority that guaranteed their residence in Tampa Stadium through 1995.

Coaching Changes

Bill Muir, director of pro scouting, accepted an offer to become the offensive line coach of the New England Patriots. University of Tennessee defensive line coach and original Miami Dolphin Frank Emanuel was hired, charged with the task of improving the kicking teams that occasionally lost games for the Buccaneers. Tom Bass, considered to be the chief architect of the Buccaneer defense, was hired to take the San Diego Chargers' defensive coordinator position that had recently been vacated by Jack Pardee. Bass' duties were taken over by defensive backfield coach Wayne Fontes, who had turned down a similar offer from the Los Angeles Rams. Fontes was noted for having built a league-leading secondary out of players obtained from trades and waivers. It was alleged that McKay disagreed with Bass over certain defensive philosophies, and so encouraged Fontes to remain with Tampa Bay, with the intent of giving him Bass' job. This was the first major defensive coaching change since the franchise's inception. Former Notre Dame assistant Jim Gruden was brought in as running backs coach, displacing George Chaump, who turned down an offer to remain in the organization in a different position. Chaump later accepted a head coaching position at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Longtime equipment manager Pat Marcuccillo unexpectedly resigned during the season, for unknown reasons that were revealed a week later, when he was arrested for selling $21,000 worth of stolen game jerseys.

Player Trades

Dave Lewis, demoted the previous season due to assorted off-field problems, was traded to the Chargers for two draft picks, the Chargers' 1984 fourth-round and 1982 third-round selections. The latter was the last pick in the round, having originally belonged to the San Francisco 49ers. The undisclosed off-field problems that led to Lewis' trade allegedly involved an argument over a suspension, which McKay interpreted as a challenge to his authority. Rumors that the trades were connected to drug use that was partially responsible for the team's disappointing 1980 performance were years later confirmed by McKay and team owner Hugh Culverhouse. Ricky Bell, the Buccaneers' all-time leading rusher, and Dewey Selmon, their former All-Pro linebacker, joined him shortly afterward, both traded for draft picks. Bell would only play two games for the Chargers before being diagnosed with the dermatomyisitis that would lead to his death from cardiac arrest two years later. Selmon's status as the team's union representative led to criticism from the National Football League Players Association, who said that he should not have been traded during contract negotiations, although Selmon himself approved the trade. The issue increased the difficulty in negotiations for a new bargaining agreement, as the union pointed to this and a rumored trade of alternate representative Mark Cotney as examples of teams harassing representatives. Dewey's brother Lee Roy was elected to take his place as player representative. Tackle Dave Reavis, a member of the 1976 expansion squad, became the first active player to retire as a Buccaneer, although he was reinstated and rejoined the team later in the season.

NFL Draft

Draft Trades

The 2nd-round pick was obtained from the Chicago Bears in exchange for the Bears' 1983 1st-round pick. The Buccaneers' original 2nd-round pick had been traded to the Miami Dolphins as part of a trade for cornerback Norris Thomas. Their 4th-round pick and their second pick in the 3rd round came from the San Diego Chargers, in trades for RB Ricky Bell and LB David Lewis. The Buccaneers' original 4th-round pick had earlier been traded to the Dallas Cowboys for DE Dave Stalls.

Draft Selections

The previous year's playoff loss to Dallas drew attention to the team's historical lack of a dominating offensive line, making that position a draft priority. Penn State All-America guard Sean Farrell was not expected to last until the Buccaneers' selection at number 18, leaving UCLA tackle Luis Sharpe and USC guard Roy Foster as leading candidates. Despite their wealth of linebacking talent, USC linebacker Chip Banks was also under consideration, given the likelihood that he would be the best player available. As it turned out, Farrell advised several teams not to select him, including the St. Louis Cardinals, who drafted ahead of the Buccaneers and selected Sharpe. This left Farrell available for the Buccaneers, who drafted him with plans to play him in Ray Snell's spot and move Snell to left tackle.

Farrell was labeled as a "can't-miss" prospect, but the Buccaneer draft was otherwise marked by a pronounced tendency to gamble. This was evidenced in personnel director Ken Herock's comments that previous Buccaneer staffs would not have had the confidence to make the selections they did. Second-round pick Booker Reese had ideal physical characteristics for a pass-rushing defensive end, but had to make the difficult jump from Division 1-AA to professional football. Several of the selections had injury histories, notably receiver Andre Tyler, who was believed to be a better player than his Stanford teammate, Chicago Bears receiver Ken Margerum, but did not play at all in 1981. Chronic knee injuries prevented quarterback Bob Lane from ever having become a starter in college. Defensive end John Cannon missed half of his senior season with knee injuries. Jeff Davis and Michael Morton were considered undersized, and Jerry Bell had little experience. Bell was also criticized for being lazy and playing below his potential, although this turned out to be something that Arizona State coach Frank Kush said of many players. Cannon was selected for the tenacity he displayed while playing through injuries, while Morton was selected as a return man. David Barrett was believed to be a better runner than previous Buccaneer fullback Johnny Davis.

Mainly on the basis of the first two picks, McKay stated that the draft was the best in team history. He felt that Davis, a hard hitter who at six feet was considered too short by many teams, was possibly the best player the team had yet obtained in the fifth round, and that seventh-rounder Thomas Morris had the speed to succeed as an NFL cornerback. The team followed the draft by signing several free-agents, including quarterback Jerry Golsteyn.

The Sean Farrell Draft Gaffe

Shortly after the draft, rumors began to fly that the Buccaneers had drafted Sean Farrell by mistake. Deliberating between selecting Farrell and Bethune-Cookman defensive end Booker Reese, Buccaneer staff saw that negotiations with Farrell's agents would be difficult, and decided to pick Reese. Equipment manager Pat Marcuccillo, representing the team in New York, failed to get the message to draft Reese due to a faulty speakerphone, and instead turned in the card with Farrell's name on it. The team denied the story when it was reported in the Boston Globe the following week, instead saying that they expected Reese to be the best player available when they drafted, and that Farrell's surprise availability caused them to reevaluate their plans. According to the team, the confusion of this reevaluation, combined with the consideration of a trade offer from the Buffalo Bills and the faulty phone, caused Marcuccillo to submit Farrell's name prematurely, but that Farrell was their intended selection. The Buccaneers were so enamored of Reese that they traded their 1983 first-round pick for the Chicago Bears' 1982 2nd-round pick to be able to select him, despite a league-wide expectation that the 1983 draft class would be far superior to that of 1982. Negotiations with Farrell proved not to be difficult, although the deal was not finalized until five minutes before the deadline to sign players before the expiration of the union contract. Farrell wound up starting 59 games over 5 years with Tampa Bay. Reese started only 7 games in three seasons. After a 1984 arrest, he was sent to the Los Angeles Rams for a 12th-round draft pick. The Bears used the Buccaneers' pick to select star receiver Willie Gault.


The preseason opened with the uncertainty of whether an NFL regular season would be held, as the players union and the team owners were having trouble renegotiating the expired union contract. The union was threatening a strike, while the owners were threatening a lockout. The union began to negotiate with cable television networks, investigating the possibility of holding their own games should a lockout occur. Players demanded a 55% share of gross team profits. They felt that they were not getting a fair share of NFL income, based on the facts that NFL salaries were lower than in other sports, while the NFL had the highest TV revenue of all sports. Team officials reported no slowdown of ticket sales, despite the likelihood of a strike and the lack of a league refund policy.

The on-field preseason action began with Randy Crowder, in his first workout since a 1980 knee injury, suffering a tear of his Achilles tendon that required surgery and meant that he would miss the season for the fourth time in his nine years in the NFL. The loss of Crowder was a blow to the team's plans of using more four-man fronts for added pass rush. Mike Washington, on the other hand, was able to make a successful recovery from offseason surgery that left him with only a 50% chance of ever playing again.Mark Cotney returned, having recovered from the knee injury that caused him to miss the 1981 season. Jerry Eckwood was diagnosed with a damaged spinal disc that required season-ending surgery. Former Green Bay Packers 1000-yard rusher Terdell Middleton was signed shortly afterward.

The emergence of the United States Football League prompted the NFL to expand each roster by four players to 49. Playing rosters remained at 45, with four players each week to be placed on an inactive taxi squad. The competition marked a change in the team's philosophy, in that they no longer regarded themselves as an expansion team, and were now willing to consider veteran players who could immediately help the team, rather than choosing strictly on perceived potential. Bill Kollar's slow recovery from his knee injury of the previous season opened up competition at left defensive end, with Dave Stalls performing well, and Booker Reese slow to learn Tampa Bay's system. A similar level of competition existed at linebacker, with Scot Brantley playing well enough to replace Richard Wood in the lineup, and rookie Jeff Davis in contention for a starting spot. Andy Hawkins survived a challenge from Dana Nafziger when, temporarily inserted into the lineup due to Hawkins' ankle injury, Nafziger wound up leading the team in sacks. The preseason ended with a 34–0 domination of the Atlanta Falcons that left observers with high expectations for the regular season, although coach McKay expressed concern over what he termed a "lackluster" practice on the Monday of final roster cuts, warning that others could be cut to make room for a signee from the waiver wire. There were 14 new players on the final roster, including 9 of the team's 11 draft picks, with the major portion of the turnover occurring at running back and on the defensive line. This development contradicted McKay's statements following the previous season's postseason loss to Dallas, in which McKay expressed confidence in his existing lineup.

Regular Season

McKay, known for accurate preseason predictions, stated that recent mediocrity in the NFC Central meant that recent high draft positions would raise the level of competition to the extent that eight or nine wins would no longer be enough to contend for a division title. He predicted that the Buccaneers would require 11 wins to defend their title, and that they would be able to. Changes were made to their defensive philosophy, with the linebackers lining up four yards deep instead of two, giving them more time to react on running plays. They were also given more responsibilities in short zone coverage, an adjustment intended to prevent the sustained drives that opponents had been successful with in the past. The 3-4 defense was deemphasized and more emphasis was placed on blitzing, especially from Hugh Green. Despite a strong preseason performance, the Buccaneers started the regular season with two mistake-filled losses.

The 1982 Players' Strike

Buccaneer players rejected a one-year contract proposal from team owners that would offer each player a bonus of up to $60,000. Assistant player representative Dave Stalls stated that management was trying to test the strength of an unproven union, and that the bonus amounted to "a bribe not to cross the picket line". The team voted on September 20 to accept the NFLPA executive council's recommendation to go on strike. Only three Buccaneers, of whom Doug Williams was the only one identified, voted against the strike. As team management made no effort to keep players from crossing the picket line, the players chose not to picket the One Buccaneer Place headquarters. Players initially elected not to hold organized workouts, instead leaving conditioning up to the individuals. Organized workouts were later held at Jesuit High School, but were discontinued when it was felt that they gave management less incentive to bargain. Tampa Bay, who set up an information office with phone lines manned by players who kept teammates informed of all news, was considered by the union to be the most organized of all teams. The strike was estimated to cost the league $42 million per week in lost revenue, with each canceled game costing the players $500,000 in wages.[84] Negotiations went very slowly, with management hoping to weaken union solidarity by prolonging the strike. Agreement was difficult, with both sides making demands vastly different from the other, and pronounced personality conflicts between union negotiator Ed Garvey and management representative Jack Donlan. Planned "All-Star" games by the players failed, due to a lack of participation by star-caliber players. One season ticket-holder retained attorney Ellis Rubin in a breach of contract suit against the Buccaneers over the cancelled games.

Harassment Accusations

A belief among team owners that 13 games was the shortest practical season marked the weekend of October 24–25 as the point at which the season would have to be cancelled. With that in mind, owners began considering opening camps to see how many players would show up. Garvey and union president Gene Upshaw termed talk of canceling the season "scare tactics", and sent a telegram stating such and reminding owners of their legal responsibility to negotiate. Shortly afterward, Stalls leveled accusations that a member of the coaching staff had made telephone calls to numerous players, asking them if they would return to camp if it was reopened, and whether they supported the union's proposed wage scale. This was perceived as an attempt to divide the players, and was denounced by the union's public relations director as "an unfair labor practice". Similar incidents were later reported in Cincinnati and Buffalo. Assistant to the president Phil Kreuger stated that the calls were made with the knowledge of McKay and owner Hugh Culverhouse, but the assistants were only to have asked the players what kind of physical condition they were in. This incident damaged McKay's relationship with the players, and it was later stated by Hugh Culverhouse, Jr. that it marked the point at which McKay lost his desire to coach the team.


As the strike dragged on, Neal Colzie joined Williams in publicly opposing the union's stance, and several players who wanted to return to work organized a meeting to vote on the management council's latest proposal, apart from what they termed the "peer pressure" and intimidation of the team's union leaders. The players still rejected the proposal by a 36–4 margin. Divisions began to appear within the team, as Williams reported losing respect for younger players who he felt were bending to union pressure, and a public shouting match breaking out between Williams and Charley Hannah. A settlement was reached shortly afterward, on November 16, with a guaranteed $1.17 billion to be paid to the players over the next five years. The contract was ratified by a 3–1 margin on December 8. Severance pay and minimum wage scales were added. It wound up being the longest and costliest strike in sports history, lasting 57 days and causing eight weekends of play to be cancelled, although one was rescheduled for the weekend of January 2–3 The NFL lost an estimated $275 million in revenue. Several players afterward reported feeling misled by Garvey, saying that many players had been hurt, while little had been gained.

Resumption of Play

Play resumed on November 21 with a confidence-building narrow loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Thanks largely to mental errors, the Buccaneers were outscored 52–32 in their first three games, despite outgaining their opponents by an average yardage of 338 to 216. Their first win came in the fourth week over a previously-undefeated Miami Dolphins team on Monday Night Football, McKay's first victory over Don Shula in seven meetings. The win left the Buccaneers tied with five other teams for last place in the NFC, with the toughest remaining schedule of the six. Each of their first four post-strike opponents entered the matchup with only one previous loss. Erratic performances continued to be a problem. Reversing their form of the previous year, which featured only one running back fumble in the entire season, the Buccaneers led the league in fumbles. Players credited a newfound maturity for their ability to rally from the large deficits caused by their mistake-prone play.


NFC First Round

Injuries to Mike Washington, Cedric Brown, and Johnny Ray Smith required that three members of the secondary play outside of their regular position. Neal Colzie took over for Brown at free safety, while Mark Cotney took over Colzie's regular strong safety spot. Dwayne O'Steen, a starter from Oakland's Super Bowl XIV team, was signed during the week to add depth to the secondary.[163] Both quarterbacks played while injured. Dallas quarterback Danny White's thumb was so sore that he could not hold a piece of paper. His jaw was so sore that he was not able to eat before the game, and required novocaine shots to play. He would not have played if it had been a regular-season matchup, but passed for 312 yards and two touchdowns. The advisability of starting Doug Williams was later questioned, due to his sore hamstring and knee. Williams spent the entire game throwing away from his former Grambling teammate Everson Walls, throwing only four times for one completion to Walls' side of the field. Against expectations, Tampa Bay's defense played well, despite spending over 40 minutes of the game on the field, and despite the injuries to the secondary and later to Hugh Green. Dallas entered the game as the best rushing team of all playoff contenders, with Tony Dorsett second only to Freeman McNeil in yardage.

After the Cowboys took a first quarter lead on two Rafael Septien field goals, the Buccaneers took the lead when the ball popped out of the hands of White and into those of Hugh Green. Green never broke stride, and returned the fumble 60 yards for a touchdown. The play happened so quickly that the Dallas offensive line continued to block, unaware that Green was downfield with the ball. Cotney then returned an interception 50 yards, leading to a 32-yard Bill Capece field goal. A 6-yard pass from White to Ron Springs gave the Cowboys a 13–10 halftime lead. After a third-quarter Septien field goal, Williams threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Gordon Jones to give the Buccaneers a 17–16 lead. Early in the fourth quarter, Charley Hannah was penalized for an illegal block, which negated an 11-yard James Wilder run. Hannah kicked the referee's flag in protest, resulting in a further call of unsportsmanlike conduct, a penalty of half the distance to the goal line. The two penalties combined to move the Buccaneers back from their 33 to their 11-yard line. McKay was outraged that the officials would call such a penalty in such an important game, sarcastically describing Hannah's actions as "horrible abuse. One of the worst things I've ever seen on a football field". On the following play, third-string safety Monty Hunter caught his first career interception, a pass intended for Jimmie Giles, and returned it for the go-ahead touchdown. Dallas followed with an 81-yard drive that ended in a 10-yard pass from White to Timmy Newsome. Linebackers coach Howard Tippett followed field judge Dick Dolack all the way back to the locker room after the game, shouting obscenities the entire way, and telling him, "You cost us this game".

Date   Opponent Week/Record Outcome
Aug. 14
Eagles Philadelphia Eagles
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
PS - wk 1
Won 35-7
Aug. 21
Redskins Washington Redskins
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
PS - wk 2
Won 28-13
Aug. 28
Oilers @ Houston Oilers
Houston Astrodome, Houston, TX
PS - wk 3
Lost 6-21
Sep. 3
Falcons Atlanta Falcons
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
PS - wk 4
Won 34-0

1982 Season Results

Record: 5-4, DIV: 2-1 (7th in NFC Central)
Date   Opponent Week/Record Outcome
Sep. 12
Vikings @ Minnesota Vikings
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis, MN
RS - wk 1
Lost 10-17
Sep. 19
Bears Washington Redskins
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 2
Lost 13-21
Nov. 21
Vikings @ Dallas Cowboys
Texas Stadium, Dallas, TX
RS - wk 3
Lost 9-14
Nov. 29
Bengals Miami Dolphins
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 4
Won 23-17
Dec. 5
Packers @ New Orleans Saints
Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, LA
RS - wk 5
Won 13-10
Dec. 12
Cowboys @ New York Jets
Shea Stadium, New York, NY
RS - wk 6
Lost 17-32
Dec. 19
Cardinals Buffalo Bills
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 7
Won 24-23
Dec. 26
Saints Detroit Lions
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 8
Won 23-21
Jan. 2
Steelers Chicago Bears
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 9
Won 26-23
Date   Opponent NFC/Superbowl Outcome
Jan. 9
Buccaneers @ Dallas Cowboys
Texas Stadium, Dallas, TX
NFC 1st Round Div.
Lost 17-30

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