Thanks Mike, from all around the world
In 1984, a bunch of crazy Buccaneer fans on the other side of the Atlantic decided to form a booster club for their favourite franchise. And coming off a pair of losing seasons, the Bucs welcomed their British colleagues by adding another 12 consecutive losing seasons. No wonder the Bucs UK called their monthly magazine "There's Always Next Year".
And then it turned around. There were new uniforms, a new coaching staff, new owners and a new stadium taking shape next to the Old Sombrero. A whole bunch of ingredients that made for a meal fit for kings, the re-birth of the Buccaneer franchise.
But nothing, no nothing, epitomized the turn-around of the franchise than one player and one play from early in the 1997 season.
Picture the scene - the Bucs are off to a 2-0 start and are leading the Vikings 7-3 nearing half-time in their Week 3 road game in Minnesota. The call from the sideline is a run up the middle to the tailback, perhaps the first legendary Gene Deckerhoff call of "Alstott up the gut."
No.40 takes the handoff and is stopped at the line. He takes a step back, goes to the left side, picks up a couple of Viking linebackers for the ride, and bulls his way into the endzone for a touchdown. Or as former Buc and then Minnesota LB Jeff Brady remembered it, "I thought he was down. I've got my shoulders square and I turn around and he's sitting right there in the endzone on top of me."
Nick Houllis has seen most Buccaneer touchdowns during his years following the franchise but he rates this as his most memorable. "The sight of Alstott in the endzone with purple shirts all around him ... amazing... simply amazing."