Remembering a many penalized diversion in complicated NFL history

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Whether they never even knew, or have usually simply attempted to forget, a players who played in a many penalized diversion in complicated NFL story are dubious when told of their outrageous standing. Sure, they remember that a diversion was bad because, well, flattering many any one of their games that deteriorate was. But that bad?

“I knew there were a lot of flags, nonetheless we didn’t know we set a record,” Seahawks receiver Steve Largent says. “It doesn’t warn me, though. Whenever we ran a ball, or threw a ball, there was a chastisement on somebody, for something.”

It was 40 years ago that a Seattle Seahawks and a Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered a NFL together. Back in that era, enlargement teams were forced to erect their rosters with usually maestro cast-offs and by a then-17-round rookie draft; giveaway group wouldn’t be introduced for another 26 years, so there was no probability for presumably to build a rival team. The dual wretched franchises faced off in Week 6 of their initial seasons, and a outcome was, by some metrics, utterly presumably a misfortune NFL diversion ever played — a joining branded it a “Expansion Bowl.”

“The NFL, as many as they could, wanted to make that diversion a adversary since we were a dual new teams,” says Jim Zorn, a Seahawks quarterback that game. “Over a years, it never unequivocally panned out. We were in opposite conferences, opposite divisions, and we couldn’t have been any serve divided from any other in a United States.”

“[But] for those initial dual years, it was a rivalry,” Bucs receiver Morris Owens says. “I remember examination a box scores after any diversion to see what Seattle did, to see if they won a game.”

“John McKay, a manager of Tampa Bay, was also my manager during Oregon,” Seahawks manager Jack Patera says. “So we felt like it was some-more of a competition between John and myself than between Seattle and Tampa Bay. That was personal.”

When a teams met on Oct. 17, 1976 during a ostensible Big Sombrero in Tampa, they had relating 0-5 records. But since Seattle had been during slightest somewhat rival in their initial 5 games —€” entrance within a touchdown twice —€” Tampa Bay’s deteriorate already was moulding adult to be a historically fatuous debate (though they expected didn’t know that decades after they’d be creation documentaries about it). The Bucs entered a diversion averaging 5.2 points over their initial 5 contests, close out thrice, nonetheless to even record a flitting touchdown.

As a result, both teams had a Week 6 matchup circled on their calendars. It was one of a usually games they were looking brazen to personification in that year, since one team had to come divided with their initial win. And any figured they had a chance.

“We knew we might not win a diversion all season,” Seahawks receiver Steve Raible says, “so we had to win this one.”

“In many games we were out-manned; we usually didn’t have a players to compete,” Bucs using behind Louis Carter says. “But we indeed suspicion we were going to flog Seattle.”

Maybe it was since a teams were both unfortunate for a win, or maybe it was usually one of those days, nonetheless there were 39 penalties called in a diversion —€” 35 of them accepted, dual off-setting and dual declined —€” for a sum of 310 chastisement yards. There were 16 holding penalties. Twice a Bucs were called for carrying 12 group on a field, and on 7 occasions they were faced with second or third down and 20 or some-more yards to go. McKay was even penalized once himself, for vehemently arguing a call on a field. The New York Times called a diversion both a “comedy of errors” and “everything it was ostensible to be.”

“Maybe they were usually in a flag-throwing mood that day,” says Steve Spurrier, who was traded from San Francisco to Tampa Bay to be a Bucs’ quarterback that 1976 season.

“It was kind of like relatives disciplining their kids —€” they usually keep promulgation them to their room until they learn,” Zorn says. “That was maybe what a officials were doing — observant let’s unequivocally call this diversion so these dual teams know that this is a NFL. Or maybe we were usually that bad.”

“I cruise everybody has attempted to forget about it,” Patera says. “It’s not something you’d like to be in a record books for.”

One thing that many players remember about that Oct diversion was that it was uncomfortably prohibited — temperatures hovered during about 85 degrees, with steam coming 100%. “It was like a steam bath down there,” Raible says.

Raible also remembers Wayne Cody, a sideline contributor for a Seahawks radio network, sitting on a corner of a team’s dais before a diversion began, his chin solemnly dipping down toward his chest as he gradually fell asleep, until he eventually flipped over, descending off a dais and onto his side. It was a ideal embellishment for a diversion nonetheless to be played.

“There were a lot of fans who substantially fell off a finish of their seats during a Old Sombrero on that hot, wet day examination that awful football game,” Raible says. “It contingency have put a lot of those people to sleep, too, solely for a flags and a approach that it ended.”

The Seahawks scored a initial touchdown of a diversion in a second quarter. The eight-play, 86-yard expostulate was kept alive with some trickery, when Patera called for a feign on fourth down and a team’s punter, Rick Engles, sauntered 13 yards downfield.

“The one thing we knew any game,” says using behind Sherman Smith, now a Seahawks RBs coach, “was that Jack was always going to have a feign in there somewhere.”

“That deteriorate we had to cruise roughly anything,” Patera says. “So special teams, well, for us was special, since we didn’t have a whole lot of strength on a offense or defense.”

The expostulate culminated in a 15-yard touchdown pass from Zorn to receiver Sam McCullum, who remembers that his initial greeting was not to celebrate, nonetheless rather to indicate a field, looking for any intensity flags that might have been thrown. He was astounded when he didn’t find any.

History also was done that day in a third quarter, when Tampa Bay got a initial flitting touchdown of a deteriorate —€” and in group history. But it wasn’t Spurrier who threw it. Stuck on a 1-yard line, down 13-3, a Bucs attempted a dive play adult a middle. Carter, whose signature pierce in college was leaping over a line and into a finish zone, was given a round and told to soar his approach in for a touchdown.

“But before we started to even go adult in a air, Seattle was already on a side of a field,” Carter says. “I was hit, and as we was descending behind [to a ground] we saw Morris Owens station there and so we threw a basketball trowel pass. we can remember a demeanour on his face —€” initial he was undone that we got stopped, afterwards he held it and was in sum shock.”

“I was usually station there by myself,” Owens says, “and Louis bounced off a linemen, and he looked during me and afterwards tossed me a ball. we took dual stairs and we was in a finish zone. we wasn’t certain what happened.”

“Really? A halfback pass was a initial touchdown pass?” Spurrier asks. “Man, we didn’t know that. But that creates sense. We didn’t measure a lot, we knew that.”

Many of a Bucs’ defensive players don’t remember that sold play either: “The defensive unit, when we came off — if we came off — we sat there with your conduct buried in your hands,” defensive finish Pat Toomay says.

You didn’t watch. You couldn’t watch. You had to accumulate your resources and get prepared to go out again into a gladiatorial locus and face your demise.

Tampa Bay’s Pat Toomay

With 40 seconds left, and Tampa Bay still trailing by three, that passing came. As kicker Dave Green lined adult for a 35-yard margin idea that would have sent a diversion into overtime, both teams were anxious. The Seahawks players had flown to Florida usually one day before — since of Patera’s complicated transport manners for cross-country games —€” and were over-heated, jet-lagged and exhausted.

“I’m on a sidelines thinking, Oh God, we can’t go to overtime, we can't keep going,” McCullum says. “It was usually wish and prayers.”

Enter linebacker Mike Curtis, one of a Seahawks’ many reputable veterans. Nicknamed “Face” since his physiognomy was so disfigured and disfigured that he looked like he slept on a bed of nails, Curtis is remembered by teammates as a actor who consumed zero nonetheless drank 8 cups of coffee before games. When Patera summarized his manners opposite bringing firearms to training camp, Curtis was a usually man who soon handed over a equine pistol to a coach.

“Curtis simply said, ‘I had adequate of this crap, I’ll retard a flog and afterwards let’s all go home,'” Rable remembers. “And that’s what happened. It done clarity that he would be a man to make that play and finish that miserable game.”

Fittingly, after a blocked margin goal, another chastisement dwindle was thrown — No. 39 on a day. This one flew high in a air, and when it came behind down it strike Seattle defensive behind Dave Brown, who had depressed on a ball, directly in a eye. Luckily, Brown was OK and a dwindle was on Tampa Bay, so finale a diversion and everyone’s common misery.

“I’m indeed astounded some-more guys didn’t get strike [by flags],” Raible says. “When we chuck 39 of them I’m astounded we didn’t have guys with all sorts of lacerations.”

All these years later, Owens isn’t astounded by anything that happened that day —€” a penalties, a feign punt, a blocked margin goal: “Whatever could go wrong for us,” he says, “did go wrong.”

As for a Seahawks? “Everyone was usually dumbfounded that we won,” McCullum remembers. “Everyone was usually so fearful to go 0-fer. It kind of felt like we usually won a Super Bowl.”

“We won dual games that year, and we don’t cruise John [McKay] won any,” Patera says, presumably honestly uncertain or to massage salt in an aged wound. “I don’t cruise they won a diversion that year, did they?”

No, a Bucs would go on to remove all 14 games that season, and afterwards another 12 some-more to start a 1977 season, as well. The Seahawks would win one some-more diversion that ’76 season, opposite a Falcons in Week 9, and afterwards flog Tampa Bay again a following year. Several Seattle players take good honour in a fact that they won a initial dual matchups between a enlargement teams —€” because, even if it is no longer a rivalry, or unequivocally never was, during a time it was a closest thing both teams had to one.

“But,” as Owens points out, “we went to a playoffs before they did and we won a Super Bowl before they did.”

“Whatever creates we feel better,” Smith says. “All we know is that in ’76 we got a initial win when we played them. And heck, we played them again a subsequent season, and we don’t remember losing.”

“I have never favourite a Seattle Seahawks, since of those dual games,” Owens says. “Those initial dual years, we suspicion we were a improved team, we suspicion we should win both of those games. So to this day we do not like them. If no one else is, during slightest we am gripping [the rivalry] alive.”

Owens might be a usually one. Smith says he doubts any of his stream players know anything about a story between a teams, about a “Expansion Bowl,” a penalties or even that a franchises entered a joining in a same year. And he says he doesn’t devise to teach them in a lead-up to their matchup this weekend. While a substructure for both franchises was laid in that initial season, Smith says, both teams are vastly opposite now, and so is a league. As for a probability of saying another diversion with 39 chastisement flags thrown?

“Well, we certain wish that doesn’t occur again,” Smith says.

This essay creatively seemed on SI.com.

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