Doug Williams No. 5April 16th, 2014
A fun countdown that Pat Yasinskas has on ESPN.com is the “top five” Bucs of all-time. Not that long ago, one would have been hard-pressed to come up with five off the top of one’s head.
Now, one has to think long and hard who would be in the top five of all-time Bucs. To start the fun, Yasinskas has former quarterback Doug Williams as No. 5.
After a lot of thought, I chose Williams. My reasoning was simple. Williams and Lee Roy Selmon, who will be a little higher up in the top five, were the two players who first brought respectability to a franchise that began its existence with an 0-26 record.
Williams led the Bucs to the NFC Championship Game in just their fourth year of existence. Williams never put up spectacular numbers, but he had a knack for producing in the clutch. I have no doubt that Williams would have ranked higher on this list if he had stayed with the Bucs longer.
But Williams spent only five years in Tampa Bay. He left for the United States Football League after an ugly salary dispute. The Bucs went into a tailspin after Williams’ departure and some suggested it was karma for the way the team treated Williams.
What Yasinskas doesn’t mention, which actually reinforces his selection of Williams, is after he left the Bucs for the Oklahoma Outlaws of the USFL (which was 20 years ahead of its time), Williams’ departure sparked a 15-year downward spiral for the franchise.
In fact, only twice since Williams left did the Bucs make it back to the NFC title game, once led by Shaun King (the hometown hero who for some reason way too many Bucs fans shamefully want to strangle, even though he had better numbers than Williams). The other time was Brad Johnson in the magical run to the Super Bowl title.
For a team to go into a 15-year tailspin because it lost a quarterback, that tells you a lot as to how valuable Williams was. It didn’t help that John McKay panicked when Williams left and traded a first-round pick for Bengals backup quarterback, “The Throwin’ Samoan,” Jack Thompson.