TAMPA — Depending on the prism through which you peer, the Bucs’ stretch of postseason futility either has been a skid or a severe drought.
After all, Tom Brady already was a seasoned veteran with three Super Bowl rings when the Bucs last reached the playoffs, and he’s still spiraling with the best of them.
Then again, when the Bucs last were celebrating an extended season, no one around here had ever heard the name Jeff Vinik.
Regardless of one’s perspective, that most recent Bucs playoff-clinching triumph — a 37-3 home rout of the Falcons on Dec. 16, 2007 — was a while back. Currently, it’s the NFL’s second-longest postseason drought (only the Browns’ 18-year swoon is longer). If you’re in the throes of middle age, that was a long time ago. If you’re a middle-schooler, it was a lifetime ago.
To offer some perspective, we compiled this list of what the world looked like on or around Dec. 16, 2007:
- Bucs rookie right tackle Tristan Wirfs was 8 years old.
- George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States, was completing his second term in office.
- The Patriots, behind Brady and Randy Moss, topped the Jets 20-10 at home to improve to 14-0, tying the 1972 Dolphins for the best record to start a season.
- I Am Legend, starring Will Smith as a U.S. Army virologist, was the No. 1 film at the box office. (The movie, set in New York City, is about a virus that destroys most of humanity and transforms the survivors into monsters.)
- The University of Alabama, under first-year coach Nick Saban, was preparing to face Colorado in the Independence Bowl after losing to Auburn for the sixth consecutive time to finish a 6-6 regular season.
- “No One,” by Alicia Keys, was the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100.
- The front page of the St. Petersburg Times included a story on Republican presidential primary candidate Rudy Giuliani’s appearance before an audience of roughly 200 at the Tampa Convention Center.
- Highlighting that Bucs triumph over the Falcons: Micheal Spurlock, a onetime Ole Miss quarterback and practice-squad plebe, became the first player in Buccaneer history to return a kick for a touchdown (We recently chronicled that historic return, and the Spurlock back story).
- The Celebrity Apprentice, hosted by polarizing businessman and TV celebrity Donald Trump, was less than three weeks from premiering on network television.
- Bucs receiver Mike Evans was a freshman at Ball High in Galveston, Texas, and still more than two years from joining the school’s football team.
- Days before facing the Bucs, suspended Falcons quarterback Michael Vick had been sentenced to 23 months in prison for running a dog-fighting ring, and coach Bobby Petrino had abruptly resigned to take the Arkansas job.
- Gators quarterback Tim Tebow had just won the Heisman Trophy after totaling 55 touchdowns (20 rushing, 35 passing) during a mesmerizing sophomore season.
- Instagram didn’t exist. Neither did Snapchat. Twitter, launched in 2006, was generating about 400,000 tweets per quarter by the end of 2007.
- Red Sox 30-year-old catcher Kevin Cash had just been re-signed by Boston to a minor-league contract and an invitation to spring training.
- USF (9-3), which had catapulted to No. 2 in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings only a couple of months earlier, was preparing for a Sun Bowl contest against Oregon.