Talking with former Bucs QB Mike Hold
This is the second part of Denis' feature and interview with Mike Hold

The next week against San Diego John Reaves was again given the start. When asked if he was upset about not getting the start as a reward for his performance against Detroit, Hold was refreshingly honest. “I thought in the back of my mind I’d start, but I wasn’t disappointed. I still got to play so it was good. I got a concussion and I got to be honest I don’t remember a whole lot about that game.”

Utilizing the same rotation as he did against the Lions, Perkins inserted Hold into the game in the 2nd quarter with the Bucs leading the Chargers 10-0. Hold only lasted one series as he was hit hard by San Diego nose tackle Blaise Winter after a seven yard scramble. A woozy Hold threw two incomplete passes and was replaced for the rest of the half by Reaves.

The Bucs didn’t move the ball for the rest of the game and the Chargers, led by future UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, rallied to win 17-13. Late in the game the Bucs did have a chance as Hold, who returned to the contest, scrambled 35 yards to get the team in scoring range. Kicker Van Tiffin booted a 45-yard field goal to pull the Bucs within 4 but they would get no closer.

So out of it was Hold that he was surprised to learn that he had a 35-yard run in the game. I asked him about the run and the former QB laughed and asked if he really did run that far. “I don’t really recall that run,” Hold said. “It was one heck of a hit.”

One thing Hold did remember was the fact that an estimated 23,000 fans attended the game. That was a pleasant surprise to Hold and his replacement teammates. It showed that while they were not being embraced, they at least had earned some respect. “It was a cool feeling that at least half the fans respected us. We won the week before so that probably had something to do with the turnout we did have. So, it was a good feeling that they turned out and supported us.”

The week after the Chargers game saw two pieces of bad news for Hold. The first bit of bad news was when the Buccaneers signed former Seattle Seahawk quarterback Jim Zorn. Perkins, who was trying his best to instill a winning culture during his first year as Tampa Bay head coach, had no idea how long the strike was going to last.

Believing the team would benefit from an NFL veteran in decent playing shape (Zorn had been with the CFL the year before), Perkins signed the future head coach of the Redskins. “Zorn came in because Coach Perkins said, ‘Hey, we really need to win.’ I respected the decision. I was disappointed but that’s the business.”

The second bit of bad news for Hold and the rest of the replacement players was that the regular players and the owners agreed on a new labor contract. With a new collective bargaining agreement the strike came to an end. Hold and most of his teammates were informed that they were to be released.

Shockingly, Hold and the rest of the NFL replacement players were granted a one week stay of unemployment. Because the regulars came back late in the week, the owners decided to go one more week with replacements. Whether this move was meant to protect the regulars from injury due to a short week of preparation or was a calculated move to stick it to the union one more time didn’t matter to Hold. The decision meant the B-Bucs would have one last moment in the sun and Hold planned to make the most of it.

“Deep down inside you hoped they would keep you, but realistically I knew that they weren’t. That’s why I volunteered to play special teams. I wanted to do something to hang around. I played on special teams against Minnesota, I was on punt return. I was one of the wings that covered the wide guys. I also played on the kick-off teams.”

The game sheet shows no record of Hold’s day on special teams, but his volunteering for blocking duty left an impression on Coach Perkins. Following the 20-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings Hold signed a contract to come back for training camp in 1988.

With the end of replacement football Hold headed back to Columbia, South Carolina and resumed his graduate assistant duties with the Gamecocks. “I was welcomed back when the strike ended and I finished off the rest of the season. We went to the Gator Bowl and played LSU. So that season I got to go to a bowl game too.”

In 1988 Hold returned to Tampa Bay and participated in training camp. The former replacement saw action in pre-season contests against Indianapolis and Cleveland but was released after a game against Atlanta.

After being released Hold embarked on a career in the Arena Football League, a career that continues to this day. After playing for more than a decade with various teams, Hold retired as a player and moved into the coaching ranks. Hold is currently in his third season as head coach of the Mahoning Valley Thunder.

Hold enjoys the memories and occasionally runs into fellow replacement players. “I see some of the ex-players because they are Arena League officials. I still have my replacement player team photo and the jersey I wore during pre-season in 1988.”

When asked if he feels a connection to the Buccaneers of today, Hold said that he honestly does not. “I never really was a Bucs fan after that except for wanting the players to do well. I met great people. I played golf with Vinny Testaverde, Mike Shula and Ray Perkins. I’ve followed what they’ve done for twenty years. We replacement players were really hoping the Bucs made the playoffs in 1987 so we’d get playoff money,” he said laughing.

As for how he believes the B-Bucs should be remembered, Hold is very candid. “To some people it’s more important than others. Some people say, ‘Just forget about it.’”

“But for me, it was my opportunity to play in the NFL and I’ll always remember that. I also understand that there is an asterisk by it. But I have the stats and they can’t take those away. It was well worth the experience. I’d do it again because it got me closer to my ultimate goal. I was invited to camp in 1988 and got a shot. I just wasn’t good enough.”

“I don’t care how anybody else remembers it,” Hold said at the end of the interview. “It’s how I remember it. I’ve got great memories because of the friendships I made.”