THE WORST KICKER IN BUCCANEER HISTORY
The problems that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had with their kicking game in recent years cost them two, possibly three games and saw the end
of the 2nd round pick experiment with Roberto Aguayo in Bucland. But back in 1983, the Buccaneers had problems that transcended the awful
and ended up in the farcical as John McKay's 2-14 team finished their year in Detroit.
In 1982, the youthful Bill Capece had won two straight games at Tampa Stadium and had taken The Cardiac Kids into the expanded post-season
tournament. But a year on, and Capece's problems cost the Bucs games against Minnesota and Green Bay and led John McKay to famously
announce that "Capece was kaput" after a Monday night debacle against the Packers. Capece blamed his problems on having three different
holders, Blair Kiel, Bob Hewko and Andre Tyler, but 10 out of 23 successful kicks would not even get you a job in NFL Europe.
After the Monday night meltdown, free agent kicker Dave Warnke (pronounced Warn-key), called the Bucs. A quick flight to Tampa and
impromptu try-out later, and the Bucs had signed Warnke for their season finale in Detroit. Rumour has it that Warnke made a 53-yard fieldgoal
in front of John McKay and the old ball coach just said "he'll do, sign him".
Warnke had been in the Lions' training camp in 1983 and had even made a 39-yard fieldgoal in pre-season
but had lost out to future NFL veteran (and even future Buc) Eddie Murray. He had played at Division III
Augsburg college and was the first bare-footed kicker the Bucs had ever had.
John McKay had stated his intentions to junk the kicking game irrespective of signing Warnke, and early in
the game, proved to be true to his word when the Bucs faced 4th and inches at the Lions' 11-yard line early
in the game. But Jack Thompson was stopped on a quarterback sneak and Warnke's first fieldgoal attempt
would have to wait a little longer.
The Bucs took an early lead in the game and Warnke's extra point was unspectacular enough in that it
made it through. His kickoffs had been pretty woeful, but nothing could prepare Buc fans, players and
coaches alike for what was about to transpire in the second quarter. Tampa had taken a 13-10 lead on a 20-
yard TD pass from Thompson to Kevin House, but Warnke's extra point came closer to hitting the endzone
corner pylon than anywhere near the uprights. And when the Bucs failed on 3rd and 8 from the Lion 12-yard
line in the third quarter, McKay shrugged his shoulders and gave his kicker another chance.
This one was even worse as it not only once again came close to the pylon, but did not even get airborne. It
was more like a penalty kick aimed into the corner than a fieldgoal attempt. "That's low and outside, ball
four" came the commentary from Dick Vermeil in the booth.
The Lions took a 23-13 lead to clinch the game but
Thompson led the Bucs downfield one last time and hit
Gerald Carter with a 12-yard scoring pass with 1:17
remaining. Warnke - not a chance. He was left on the
sideline as McKay allowed OL George Yarno, 6-5 and 280
pounds, to attempt the kick. Left-footed, toe-on and straight
through the uprights to mass celebrations from his fellow
Warnke's final NFL moment came on the ensuing onside
kick which was as appalling as his fieldgoal kicking. With all
the Buc players lined up left for the expected scramble, he
managed to kick it 25 yards straight downfield to a surprised Robb Rubick and the Lions ran out the clock to
end a miserable season for Buccaneer fans.
Warnke never got another shot in the NFL and understandably so. He and Yarno remain two of the four Buc
players who have scored a single point (Ray Criswell and Chris Mohr) being the others. But this game and
the wretched Warnke, will forever keep their place in Buccaneer franchise history but for all the wrong reasons.
Hubert Mizell, The St.Petersburg Times
Did you watch it on TV? Let's think about it. Has there ever
been a more hopeless placekicker in the 63 years of the
National Football League? Darned if I can think of one. This
guy wore no shoe, had no accuracy, had no distance and
had no chance. Now, after one game as a pro, he has no
John McKay had seen far too much of brother Warnke by
the time Tampa Bay scored its last touchdown with 1:17
left. Pussyfoot was through. Before sending him back out
there, McKay would've kicked it himself. Luckily, he had
Even after it was over, Warnke swore he used to kick like
magic for some Minnesota college. I think they call his
school Augsburg. Me? I don't believe him. Against the
Lions, Pussyfoot tried a 29-yard field goal that fell 22 yards
short. Think about that. And he missed an extra point.
Pussyfoot was pitiful.
Warnke became so laughable with his placements that
Tampa Bay twice passed up obvious field goals to try for it
on fourth down. To boot, on his kickoffs Pussyfoot had all
the power of a Truman Capote right hook with pokes that
strained to reach the opposing 20 yard line.