The end of the great curse
"Could it be? Could it be that the great curse has been lifted? There goes Micheal Spurlock and for the first time ever the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have returned a kickoff for a touchdown...Santa Maria!"
That piece of commentary will live long in the memory of every Buccaneer fan around the globe. The "Great Curse" as it had become known had lasted 1865 tries and some 32 seasons until little known wide receiver Micheal Curtis Spurlock out of Mississippi returned Morten Andersen's kickoff from his own 10 yard line all the way to the promised land.
As a high school quarterback, Spurlock threw for some 3,348 yards and 35 TDs in 2000, also rushing for another 1,161 yards and scoring 10 TDs, giving him 4,509 total yards and 45 TDs during his senior campaign. Coming out of high school many had started making comparisons with Michael Vick (who at this time was doing his thing at Virginia Tech), with good reason Spurlock's numbers on the ground and slim quick physique definitely had the look of Vick. However then Spurlock left high school and went to Ole Miss.
While at Mississippi his game time and numbers dropped off from those he had managed as a High School quarterback. He only played in two of 13 games as a sophomore in 2003 as he was behind Eli Manning on the depth chart and he completed seven-of-eight passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
He appeared in seven-of-11 games in 2004 as a junior, connected on 30-of-70 passes for 341 yards, and rushed 27 times for 59 yards. He played in all 11 games, starting eight, seven at quarterback and the season finale at running back as a senior in 2005. As quarterback he passed for 1,709 yards on 142-of-267 completions with seven touchdowns and nine interceptions and rushed for two touchdowns.
Not bad numbers but in a draft containing Vince Young, Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler, Tavaris Jackson and our very own Bruce Gradkowski he was always up against stiff competition to be drafted.
Spurlock slipped through all seven rounds of the 2006 draft. The Arizona Cardinals signed Spurlock to their practice squad...as a wide receiver. To this point in his career Spurlock had played no football at the wide receiver position and learnt the position while sitting out the majority of his first NFL season. Micheal did see some action towards the end of that year.
The Buccaneers signed Spurlock from the Cardinals practice squad to fill their practice squad on 4th September 2007, just three months before his superhuman effort against the Atlanta Falcons. In the 2007 season Spurlock was used solely as a kick return specialist and failed to register stats in any other category besides his 16 kickoff returns and four punt returns.
You would have thought that after being the man who did what so many before him in a Buccaneers jersey had failed to do that he'd have a job for life...not in the NFL. Spurlock was released as part of the final roster cuts for the 2008 season.
On 21st January 2009, Spurlock was signed to a future contract by the San Francisco 49ers. After the 2009 preseason, Spurlock was officially signed to the team, due to first round
draft pick Michael Crabtree holding out. He was waived on 3rd November.
Spurlock re-signed with the Buccaneers on 22nd December 2009. In his first game back with the Bucs, he returned a punt for a touchdown, leading to a 20-17 victory for Tampa Bay over the eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. After impressing in the Buccaneers pre-season with six catches including one for a spectacular 53 yard score, Micheal has gone onto to play himself into the 2010 season's final 53 man roster. In doing so Spurlock saw off "competition" from Michael "Stone Hands" Clayton along with little known Preston Parker.
Who knows what Spurlock's role will be in 2010 but one thing is for sure be it receiving, returning kicks or who knows what else Micheal Spurlock is a big play threat and a potential game changer. With Spurlock's passing ability and the running ability of him and Josh Johnson surely its only a matter of time before the Bucs release some kind of Wildcat formation on the world and maybe make the most of Spurlock's wide array of talents.
Click here for the video clip of that amazing kick return touchdown that changed Buccaneer history forever