Bucs give rest of NFL a good laugh
If you travel a lot, which of course means you have no connection to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offense whatsoever, then you know the response. If you don't, it's as bad as you might expect. Go someplace else and mention the Bucs, and you are bound to come across one of two impressions. Here is the first: haaa-HAAA-haaa-HAAA-haaa.
Here is the second: The nature of the Bucs is that they can cause other teams problems for a while. But hang around long enough, and the Bucs will mess it up. You can count on it. That is true enough on the football field, and it is true enough in the front office. And it is especially true this week.
Seldom have the Bucs done more to enhance their laugh-at-me image nationally than Tuesday, when they suddenly decided two players previously declared as priceless were indeed worthless. They're laughing, Hugh. Across the country, they are looking at your team, and your organization, and your ownership, and they are doubling over and slapping their thighs.
Oh, it isn't a vicious laugh. It's the laugh you make at a loveable klutz who can't get out of his own way. In Miami, and in Philadelphia, and in San Francisco, the Bucs amuse the hell out of football fans, because no matter how bad the disappointments are there, they always can point at Tampa Bay and feel "at least we aren't the Bucs."
Perhaps this is the destiny of the Bucs. Some teams are intimidating, some teams are finesse. The Bucs are comic relief. You watch them, and you can swear that you have seen them be as stupid as humanly possible, and then they break their own record. Consider, if you will, the possible reasons for paroling - uh, cutting - Chandler and Haddix, who were snapped up like found money by the Cardinals and Bengals on Tuesday.
Reason No. 1 - Non-contribution: Well, who the heck is contributing on this team? If you cut everyone who isn't doing the job on this team, you're going to be left with Broderick Thomas, Jesse Solomon, Lawrence Dawsey, Ricky Reynolds and about two other guys. Five on five, anybody?
Reason No. 2 - Financial: The Bucs say money was not the reason. Uh-huh. But even if it was, the Bucs botched it - they paid Haddix a $25,000 bonus last week. Anyway, it's a heck of a battle cry: "We're not cheap - we're just dumb."
Reason No. 3 - Disruption: Evidently, the Bucs are prepared to remarry Vinny Testaverde, and Chandler's loose lips weren't helping things. But there are other ways to shut up a guy. And if Testaverde can't play with someone looking over his shoulder, he's in the wrong profession.
The thing is, the Bucs never really did know what Chandler was worth. They thought he was worth a No. 1 draft pick a year ago; now they think he's worth nothing. It's like paying $50,000 for a car worth $10,000, then throwing it away when you find out it isn't what you thought it was.
Now, most teams could have screwed up one way. Only the Bucs could screw up both ways. And because No. 1 draft choices are the only gold a team in the Bucs' shape have, this deal could haunt this team through the '90s. Oh, I can understand why Richard Williamson would be unhappy with these two. Chandler had a blind spot toward his own failings, and Haddix looked as if he still wanted to bask in last year's glory.
But that is where Phil Krueger should have stepped in, for the good of the franchise. Coaches work with the now, but general managers have to protect the future. Krueger should have said, no, these people will have value (Chuck Long and Blair Kiel are still employed, for goodness sakes). In a season that is going nowhere, there is no profit in throwing them away.
This whole mess started last season, when the team allowed Ray Perkins to make major changes on his way out the door. Now, when everyone in the free world expects a coaching change next season, the same thing has happened. And if there is a coaching change next year, shouldn't that coach be allowed to pick his own quarterback?
Does anyone have any foresight at all at One Buccaneer Place? Why pay Haddix a bonus when he's about to be cut? Why give Chandler a start if he's so horrible? Chandler. Bo Jackson. Booker Reese. Jack Thompson. The oops are endless. Make a tape, call it The Best of Bucs Blunders. Maybe you could sell Sports Illustrated subscriptions with it.
Gary Shelton, The St.Petersburg Times November 1991