Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

How 0-26 still sticks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

0-26.

It’s what they’re known for. It’s their identity. It’s who they are.

0-26 is the Bucs.

Just check NFL Films.

The legendary film makers who chronicle every step of the National Football League have given us the iconic moments of each NFL franchise.

The Dallas Cowboys? There’s that shot of dignified coach Tom Landry in a silhouette, wearing his fedora, giving the Cowboys a classy, stately, noble reputation.

The Pittsburgh Steelers? There’s Franco Harris plucking the ball inches from the ground in the Immaculate Reception — "It’s caught out of the air!" — a losing franchise turned winner with one miracle play.

The Green Bay Packers? There’s coach Vince Lombardi, on a blackboard, showing the simplistic, yet devastating details of their unstoppable power sweep that made them the NFL’s first real dynasty.

And the Bucs?

It’s Neil O’Donoghue’s comical bungled field goal when he tried to kick a rolling ball, only to miss and then fall over himself like a drunk on an icy sidewalk. The truth is, that football folly actually took place in 1978, a season after the Bucs won their first game.

Who cares?

It is the perfect example of just how bumbling, stumbling, fumbling the Bucs were in those early days. And you can’t talk about those days with the most famous numbers in franchise history.

0-26.

The streak finally ended exactly 40 years ago Monday: Dec. 11, 1977.

(RELATED: Where were you that day? The Times wants to know your story.)

The Bucs started their franchise losing their first 26 games. Some of the games were close. Most were not. They lost games by scores of 34-0, 42-0 and 31-0. In fact, the Bucs were shut out 11 times in those first 26 games. They once had a seven-game stretch when they scored a total of 17 points, including a five-game stretch when they scored one touchdown.

And while the Bucs have gone on to have success, including a dominating victory in Super Bowl XXXVII, it will always been known the futile start of the franchise. It will be known more for that than anything else. Ever.

While other football stars were appearing on Johnny Carson, the Bucs were the brunt of Carson jokes.

"The Titanic and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,’’ Carson once said as the character Carnac the Magnificent, a mystic who could see things unforeseen by mere mortals. "Name two disasters that were accompanied by band music.’’

There was an old TV game show called The Gong Show. It’s creator and host, Chuck Barris, once threatened to give losing contestants the worst prize he could think of: Bucs tickets.

But the funniest lines came from the head coach himself, John McKay. When asked about his team’s execution, he said he was in favor of it.

"We didn’t tackle well today,’’ he once said, "but we made up for it by not blocking.’’

For McKay, coaching an expansion team was like a religious experience.

"You do a lot of praying,’’ he said, "but most of the time the answer is no.’’

The losing — 26 games in a row, and from the start — was so epic that it has cast a shadow over the franchise ever since. It’s our Immaculate Reception. It’s our Ice Bowl. It’s our "Catch.’’

And it set the stage for a franchise that has lost way more than it has won.

(RELATED: How the Bucs can still make the playoffs, seriously)

This is the Bucs’ 42st season in the NFL. They’ve had a winning record in only 12 of those seasons — and 10 of those came since 1997. The franchise’s overall regular-season record: 254-401-1.

Over the years, there have been crummy teams in every sport.

The 1962 Mets that lost 120 games. The expansion Washington Capitals that won only eight games. The 76ers that once won only nine games in a season.

And the NFL is full of legendary losers — the Browns, Lions and Cardinals among them.

But if you’re looking for a team that oozes losing, a team to hold up as the prime example of a losing franchise, you think of 1976 and 1977. Then you think of all the years that followed, even winning ones.

You think of the Bucs.

It all started with two numbers.

0-26.

Contact Tom Jones at [email protected] Follow @tomwjones.

Comments
Bucs’ Gerald McCoy shows off Batman-themed Rolls Royce

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy shows off Batman-themed Rolls Royce

Remember last year, when the opening credits to "Hard Knocks" showed DeSean Jackson pulling up to Bucs training camp in a white Ferrari 488 GTB, which starts around $250,000?Training camp doesn't start until next week, but we have an early leader for...
Updated: 8 hours ago
‘Wreak Havoc’: Winston absent as Bucs roll out 2018 promo videos

‘Wreak Havoc’: Winston absent as Bucs roll out 2018 promo videos

When Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was suspended for the first three games of the upcoming season, one of the lingering questions was whether the team would still feature him prominently in their marketing efforts to fans.The team released four sho...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Star cornerback, onetime Buc Darrelle Revis retiring after 11 NFL seasons

Star cornerback, onetime Buc Darrelle Revis retiring after 11 NFL seasons

Revis Island is closed for business. Darrelle Revis, a star cornerback with the New York Jets, a Super Bowl winner with their archrivals, the New England Patriots, and a onetime Buc, has retired. Revis announced Wednesday on social media that he was ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Yes, Jameis Winston can set Bucs career passing records in 2018

Yes, Jameis Winston can set Bucs career passing records in 2018

Bucs veterans report for training camp one week from today, and we're continuing to look at what big records could fall for Tampa Bay in 2018.It seems impossible, even given the lack of sustained quarterback success throughout the Bucs' 41-year histo...
Published: 07/18/18
Bucs’ new run defense will be tested early, often in 2018

Bucs’ new run defense will be tested early, often in 2018

Much of the focus on the Bucs upgrading their defensive line has been, understandably, that Tampa Bay finished last in the league in sacks last season, with just 22. But as Gerald McCoy pointed out several times in 2017, you can't get to the quarterb...
Published: 07/18/18
Barry Sanders turns 50: Watch some of his 2,195 yards vs. Bucs

Barry Sanders turns 50: Watch some of his 2,195 yards vs. Bucs

Lions legend Barry Sanders turned 50 on Monday, and as a tribute, the NFL posted a 10-minute highlight video of the Hall of Famer's top 50 runs. As any older Bucs fans can attest, many of them came at the expense of Tampa Bay's defense, seen chasing ...
Published: 07/17/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jimbo Fisher discusses Florida State, Jameis Winston

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jimbo Fisher discusses Florida State, Jameis Winston

Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher was front and center Monday at SEC media days and spoke about leaving Florida State and why Jameis Winston will have no problem moving on from his suspension.Plus, Blake Snell might be the third AL pitcher ...
Published: 07/17/18
Bucs running back Ronald Jones eager to prove himself as rookie

Bucs running back Ronald Jones eager to prove himself as rookie

Bucs rookies report to training camp Monday, in less than a week, but running back Ronald Jones has offered fun insights into his preparation with a 10-minute video interview with his hometown paper back in Texas, the McKinney Courier-Gazette."I defi...
Published: 07/17/18
Jimbo Fisher: ‘I love Jameis…unfortunately he made some bad decisions’

Jimbo Fisher: ‘I love Jameis…unfortunately he made some bad decisions’

ATLANTA — Jimbo Fisher defended every step of the way at Jameis Winston at Florida State, so it shouldn't be a surprise that he continues to back his former quarterback, even though both have moved on.Fisher, now the coach at Texas A&M, sa...
Published: 07/16/18
What DeSean Jackson needs to break a Jerry Rice NFL record

What DeSean Jackson needs to break a Jerry Rice NFL record

We're close enough to the 2018 NFL season that we can start talking about records that could be broken in the normal course of the Bucs' season ahead.DeSean Jackson has a chance to break one of Jerry Rice's career NFL records. No, not the 197 career ...
Published: 07/16/18