Monday, December 17, 2007

As a Bucs fan, I needed to post this

Yes, I'm a football fan. When my family moved to the Tampa Bay region, it was just as the Tampa Bay Bucs were starting up (rather miserably). I was nine when 1979 happened, and the team got good overnight and all the fans were thrilled. I stayed a fan through the Dark Times of 1983-1996, through the good times of Dungy's construction of a winning franchise, through the ups and downs of the current Chucky regime.

And in all that time, as all the jinxes and curses related to the Bucs (couldn't win, couldn't win in the postseason, couldn't win in the cold, couldn't win on the West Coast) fell to the wayside, one jinx remained.

The Bucs, in all that time, never ran a kickoff return for a touchdown in regular or postseason play.

While it's tough to run a kickoff (or punt return) all the way back, it's not *that* hard: every other team (all 31 of them, including the newbies) has gotten one. Even the Houston Texans have one, and they're only 5 years old at this point.

It got to be something of a running gag. All the game commentators would snark about it, the networks would flash the league statistics about it, and everyone would chuckle and feel bad about the poor Bucs and their special teams players.

And then, the Atlanta Falcons came to play the Tampa Bay Bucs in Tampa, this December 16, 2007.

A backup practice squad guy had been bumped up to kick return duties because the regular guy, Mark Jones, was out with injury. The new guy was one of those little-known, bounced-around-the-league kind of guy. Micheal Spurlock was his name. Number 17. Stores don't even sell his jersey number.

Michael Spurlock took a kickoff at the 10-yard-line and never looked back.

Other men will write better poetry about it (or will craft video homages with fan photos and video EDIT: link is gone sorry). Children will go to bed dreaming of it. Old men will weep and know that they had lived long enough to see the day. Our long national nightmare is over.

As a Bucs fan I will be walking on sunshine this whole week. Not because the Bucs secured a postseason berth with this win over Atlanta. Because Spurlock finally made a kickoff return for my team.

This is why we watch sports, and why we make athletes heroes from time to time. This is why No. 17 jerseys with the name Spurlock on it will be manufactured today and sold out by the end of tonight.

Because of hope fulfilled.

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