The last #1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

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The last #1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

Postby PetePierson » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:23 am

Nice little article for the ole timers.

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http://www.tampabay.com/sports/football ... er/2219519

The last 1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

TAMPA — It has been 28 years since the Buccaneers last owned the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, when they targeted a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from a state powerhouse who was coming off a disappointing loss that ended chances for a national championship.

Except then, there was no debate about who was the best player the worst team in the NFL should select. Not a single argument.

Vinny Testaverde doesn't remember even talking to another team before the draft. All the scrutiny he faced — the cruel billboards and newspaper cartoons — came after he signed a six-year, $8.2 million contract with the Bucs.

"I don't remember meeting with anyone," Testaverde said. "I talked to Ray Perkins in the Japan Bowl at practice, but nobody really interviewed with me."

In his second pro season under the heavy thumb of Perkins, the Bucs' coach, GM and offensive coordinator, Testaverde threw 35 interceptions, still the second most in NFL history.

If that didn't destroy him, what he endured off the field should have. Everybody took shots, and negative opinions flew like Testaverde's wayward passes, rarely hitting the target. He was not bright enough to be an NFL quarterback, they said. He was color-blind, he admitted, and that was served up as an explanation as to why he threw to the wrong guys.

But the truth is that Testaverde was asked to carry on his back a young team that didn't have the same talent advantage over the competition as the one he left at the University of Miami.

"From my junior year through my senior year, I received all those accolades and was the first pick in the draft. It's a lot for a young man to take on," said Testaverde, now 51, a father of two daughters and a son with his wife of 24 years, Mitzi, and living on a lake in north Tampa. "Sometimes you're so caught up in your own little football world with teammates and all the coaches, you don't realize all the pressure that's involved until afterward. But coming to a team like Tampa Bay, coming to a team that did not win many games before I ever got there, that was stressful in itself.

"(I was) just feeling like, okay, I have to be the difference-maker. Because in college, you can say I was one of the better players, but I had the talent around me. I had Michael Irvin, Brett Perriman, Bennie Blades, Alonzo Highsmith and Jerome Brown. That's what got lost about me. When I came to the Bucs, the talent we had was young talent — Mark Carrier, Bruce Hill, Ron Hall — a lot of rookies learning together and making a lot of mistakes. … At the quarterback position, everything gets enhanced. Everybody looks at it differently, but it is a lot to handle for a young man."

Testaverde was drafted to be the Bucs' savior. Instead, he became one of the NFL's most celebrated survivors.

Vinny, vidi, vici. He came and conquered the quarterback position for seven teams over an astounding 21 seasons.

When Testaverde came off his couch in Long Island to lead the Panthers to a 25-10 win over the Cardinals on Oct. 14, 2007, he became the oldest quarterback to start and win a game at age 43.

In between were memorable seasons (two ended in the Pro Bowl) with the Browns, Ravens and (V-V-V-Vinny and the) Jets. The closest he got to a Super Bowl was when John Elway and the Broncos beat his Jets in the AFC title game in January 1999.

It turns out that his six hellish seasons with the Bucs fueled his tank for a longer journey. Testaverde had the misfortune of being drafted by the bumbling Bucs of owner Hugh Culverhouse. Long before he arrived, the franchise had lost its first 26 games, failed to re-sign quarterback Doug Williams and lost the 1986 No. 1 overall pick, Auburn running back Bo Jackson, to baseball.

The losing got to Testaverde, who in the Miami cradle of QBs had followed Jim Kelly and Bernie Kosar.

"You work just as hard as every other player and every other team, and when you don't win games, it's not fun," Testaverde said. "At first, I didn't know how to handle it. I didn't know how to respond to questions about it. I was quite uncomfortable answering questions, or responding to people, even in public. I just kind of figured, take a breath and keep plugging away and the way to fix it was to keep working harder and get everybody believing we can do this."

But not everybody believed, and Testaverde didn't lose just ball games. His first marriage ended after 10 months. The divorce was amicable, but he blamed it on his failure to manage anger by yelling and beating on walls. His color-blindness was lampooned by a bright blue WFLZ billboard that read: VINNY THINKS THIS IS ORANGE. Even this newspaper ran a cartoon at Halloween with a man sailing candy way over the open bags of trick or treaters with the caption: Thanks, Mr. Testaverde.

Ah, but Vinny got the last laugh. His golden arm never betrayed him as he passed for 46,233 yards in his career, ninth all time.

Today Testaverde is a restaurant owner and investor, having recently sold an Outback Steakhouse in California while watching PDQ chicken restaurants in which he is a partner open in north Florida. He also tutors high school and college quarterbacks, including his son, Vincent Jr., who recently enrolled at Miami.

Testaverde loves Tampa and still follows the Bucs. On this day, he was asked the proverbial question: Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota?

"Coming out of college, you're the first overall pick and a Heisman Trophy winner," he said. "There's great expectations. The previous year (the Bucs) didn't have a great year, so they're expecting great things. Hopefully, (Winston's and Mariota's) career will start out better than mine, and hopefully it will last even longer than mine did."

Contact Rick Stroud at rstroud@tampabay.com and listen from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-AM 620. View his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bucs. Follow @NFLStroud.

The other Bucs 1s

1976: Lee Roy Selmon, DE, Oklahoma

The first pick in franchise history was arguably the Bucs' best. The Hall of Fame defensive end played nine seasons and earned six Pro Bowl selections. He finished with 78.5 sacks. Selmon was the NFL's defensive player of the year in 1979, when he led the Bucs to the NFC Championship Game. In 2009 Selmon became the first player inducted into the team's Ring of Honor. A Tampa Bay area civic hero and USF athletic director, Selmon helped launch the Bulls' football program. He died of complications from a stroke in 2011 at age 56.

1977: Ricky Bell, RB, Southern Cal

Bell was a controversial No. 1 in a draft that included Tony Dorsett. But Bell played for Bucs coach John McKay at Southern Cal, where he was the Pac-8 player of the year in 1976. Bell rushed for 1,263 yards in '79, his best year as a pro. He was traded to the Chargers in 1982, and he died two years later of heart failure caused by a rare disease at age 29.

1986: Bo Jackson, RB, Auburn

Jackson won the Heisman Trophy in '85 and was also was among the best baseball players in the nation. But he missed much of his senior season after being ruled ineligible in baseball by the NCAA following a visit with the Bucs, whom he believes tried to sabotage his baseball career when then-owner Hugh Culverhouse sent a private jet for him to visit Tampa. Jackson told the Bucs not to draft him. They did, and he opted to play baseball. The Bucs forfeited their rights to him, and he was selected in the seventh round by the Raiders the next year. He played nine major-league baseball seasons, mostly with the Royals. A hip injury ended his football career in 1991.
Last edited by PetePierson on Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The last #1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

Postby IchabodCrane84 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:32 am

Pretty awesome article.
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Re: The last #1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

Postby PetePierson » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:35 am

Also really cool that his last game (and win) came in Tampa, against Tampa.
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Re: The last #1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

Postby Dutchman » Sun Mar 01, 2015 12:06 pm

PetePierson wrote:Also really cool that his last game (and win) came in Tampa, against Tampa.


Although Testaverde didn't throw a pass in that game. He was sent in for the final kneel down.
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Re: The last #1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

Postby Dutchman » Sun Mar 01, 2015 12:07 pm

I met Vinny at the Tampa Jai-Alai when he was on the Browns. We asked him if he thought he would ever possibly play for the Bucs again in the future. He said "No way in hell". Him and Nick Pugliese had an adverse relationship in Tampa. I doubt Vinny would have wanted to play in a town where Pugliese was allowed to cover the team.
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Re: The last #1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

Postby PetePierson » Sun Mar 01, 2015 12:12 pm

Dutchman wrote:I met Vinny at the Tampa Jai-Alai when he was on the Browns. We asked him if he thought he would ever possibly play for the Bucs again in the future. He said "No way in hell". Him and Nick Pugliese had an adverse relationship in Tampa. I doubt Vinny would have wanted to play in a town where Pugliese was allowed to cover the team.


I met Vinny at a restaurant when I was just a kid, maybe 11 or 12. He could not have been nicer to me and my family. I just remember him being a monster of a man. Obviously, all about perspective since I was so young but he was one of the first really big, strong QBs in the NFL.
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Re: The last #1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

Postby DreadNaught » Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:06 pm

It's too bad we were such a poorly run franchise that we couldn't take a can't miss franchise QB like Vinny and put enough talent and good coaching around him to develop him properly. Those were the dog days indeed. Sad that players had to escape and survive when drafted by the Yucs.

It's hilarious that we barely even contacted Vinny during the pre draft process. Times sure have changed.
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Re: The last #1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

Postby 0-26 Survivor » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:30 am

Testaverde's story further shows the stupidly and pigheadedness of Ray Perkins.
Perkins never liked Steve Young. He picked Vinny to replace him.
And it all went downhill from that point.
Last edited by 0-26 Survivor on Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The last #1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

Postby mdb1958 » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:40 am

Yeah we couldnt make Steve Young a winner, but now things are sooooo much different and Winston's going to be a superstar. Cant wait for him to rip off his suit to show the big S.
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Re: The last #1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

Postby Dutchman » Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:04 am

mdb1958 wrote: Winston's going to be a superstar.


Is that some kind of new nickname for convicted felon?
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Re: The last #1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

Postby DreadNaught » Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:12 am

Dutchman wrote:
mdb1958 wrote: Winston's going to be a superstar.


Is that some kind of new nickname for convicted felon?


???? Convicted of what? Actually, what 'felony' has ever been charged with?

To my knowledge his criminal history only contains a citation for misdemeanor larceny b/c he stole $32 worth of crab legs.
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Re: The last #1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

Postby PetePierson » Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:43 am

mdb1958 wrote:but now things are sooooo much different and Winston's going to be a superstar. Cant wait for him to rip off his suit to show the big D.


That's inappropriate.


And why am I not surprised that one of Fro'man's biggest sack swingers now thinks Winston is going to be a savior.
Last edited by PetePierson on Mon Mar 02, 2015 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The last #1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

Postby Mountaineer Buc » Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:59 am

Here we go again.
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Re: The last #1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

Postby Dutchman » Mon Mar 02, 2015 12:57 pm

DreadNaught wrote:he stole.


Exactly. You don't take a guy like that with the first overall pick.
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Re: The last #1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

Postby Alpha » Tue Mar 03, 2015 3:48 am

Dutchman wrote:
DreadNaught wrote:he stole.


Exactly. You don't take a guy like that with the first overall pick.


I was a teenager when Testacles was drafted. Grew up in Belleair, FL when he had his boat. A nice 25' Scarab...painted Buc White/Creamscickle with the #12. Met him twice. Nice guy. My old man was a UM alumn...so we chatted about the U...dude never had a chance back in the Culverhouse days.

Nobody did.
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Re: The last #1: Vinny Testaverde reflects on Bucs career

Postby Dutchman » Tue Mar 03, 2015 6:50 am

Alpha wrote:
Dutchman wrote:
Exactly. You don't take a guy like that with the first overall pick.


I was a teenager when Testacles was drafted. Grew up in Belleair, FL when he had his boat. A nice 25' Scarab...painted Buc White/Creamscickle with the #12. Met him twice. Nice guy. My old man was a UM alumn...so we chatted about the U...dude never had a chance back in the Culverhouse days.

Nobody did.



I'm not sure why you quoted my post about Winston, then talked about Testaverde.

But I agree with you about Vinny. He didn't have much chance to succeed in Tampa. I always liked him.
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