Tracking down Mirro Roder
There have been 781 Buccaneer players since that inaugural first game in the Houston Astrodome in September 1976. From Fred Acorn to Jim Zorn, they all have their own profile page on BUCPOWER.COM.
But not all of them have pictures. For some of the more obscure players in Tampa Bay annals, tracking down a head shot picture or additionally a clip of them in action is all nigh impossible. The 1987 strike team for example and also many of the one-game wonders from that expansion campaign.
One of whom was the Bucs' first-ever kicker Mirro Roder. Czech-born and the man who had three chances to score the first points in franchise history and missed them all. And was cut after the second game never to appear in the NFL again. Not in the 1976 Buc media guide because he was signed just prior to the first game, and not even in the GameDay programme from the first home game at Tampa Stadium.
Save someone from the Chicago organisation possibly finding a 1974 media guide of their own during his brief stay in the Windy City, my chances of seeing the elusive Mr Roder were looking blank. Until last Friday.
Sitting playing with my daughter with NASN on in the background, I hear Steve Sabol introducing one of his excellent "NFL Lost Treasure" films. He begins talking about miking up former Bear Hall of Famer Dick Butkus for a pre-season game, and the part where he makes fun of then-Chicago kicker Mirro Roder.
My ears pick up and the game of snakes and ladders is temporarily forgotten - sorry Tanith, but this is important to Daddy. The record button is hit harder than anyone Butkus came up against and 40 priceless seconds of action from the Soldier Field sideline is kept for posterity. And BUCPOWER.COM gets itself a headshot and sideline clip of Tampa Bay's first-ever kicker. Sad, perhaps - rewarding, definitely. 48 players left now.
Last week, the Houston Texans announced that former Broncos offensive co-ordinator Gary Kubiak would be their new head coach. Perhaps I really am getting old but I remember Kubiak being drafted in 1983, the same year as John Elway. Come to think of it, I remember Jack Del Rio being drafted that year too. It's bad enough when you see players going into the NFL Hall of Fame that you remember as rookies (Dan Marino), but coaches too?
I do hope that the Pittsburgh Steelers win Super Bowl XL this weekend for the simple reason that I want Nick Halling to experience what I did when the Bucs won it all three years ago. Nick became a Pittsburgh fan in the same way that I picked the Bucs - he saw them win when he first watched the game on Channel 4, albeit seven days before I did. After two decades, it's worth waiting for when your team finally wins it all.
Three years ago last Thursday, the Bucs won Super Bowl XXXVII. And I imagine thousands of Tampa Bay fans got out their game tapes and DVDs to relive the moment. I did. Bloody marvellous it was too.
No doubt the British press will be full of the usual crap stories about the Super Bowl this week as Lee Bromfield made reference to in his last column. Which English rugby player will be considered to play in the NFL this year? But I'm still waiting for drug-cheat sprinter Dwaine Chambers to make his long-awaited gridiron debut. Wasn't it two years ago that some of this country's leading gridiron writers waxed lyrically in the national press that he could be a star in the game? Yeah right.
Congratulations to Andy Coish for winning last week's spot prize for realising the reason I chose No.31 for my personalised shirt was that it was my baseball playing number from my days in the British League. Kudos also to Gawain Owen, an old team-mate, for knowing it was for Bret Saberhagen, who wore 31 when he was MVP of the 1985 World Series for the Royals. A suitable prize will be on its way to Andy but I should also have pointed out this competition was for Bucs UK members and not smart-arse IBM students who are obviously not busy enough if they've got time to read their boss's editorial columns!
You've been great - enjoy Men without Hats.
Paul Stewart, February 2006