With the recent news of five-year starter Josh Freeman being benched by Tampa Bay, it stirred up a discussion about the Bucs and a horrible decision that haunted the franchise for years. And while the decision to sit Freeman many indeed be warranted, time will tell whether it is the correct choice. However, in the case of one Doug Williams, who at the time was the only starting African-American quarterback, Tampa rolled the dice and crapped out.
Drafted No. 17 overall in 1978, Williams was a relative success with the Buccaneers, although when viewing his numbers many would consider him a below average quarterback by today's NFL standards. In five years as a starter in Tampa Bay, he completed just 47.4 percent of his passes and threw 73 touchdowns to 73 interceptions. That said, he also led the Bucs to their first three playoff appearances in franchise history, including a spot in the 1979 NFC Championship Game. Crazy right?
If you know anything about the history of the Buccaneer franchise, you would understand how significant the impact Williams had. Prior to his arrival the Bucs had an overall record of 7-37 which were the first three years in the team's history. One would think it would be of the highest importance to lock up the team leader for the long haul by extending him a solid contract offer. However, after Williams led the Bucs to wins in five of their last six regular-season games in 1982 to make the playoffs, owner Hugh Culverhouse refused to re-sign the quarterback over a well-documented contract dispute, to the chagrin of fans and teammates. Williams wanted a $600,000 contract, but Culverhouse would only offer $400,000, and Williams left the Bucs to join the USFL.
After the USFL folded, Williams was signed by the Washington Redskins, where he led the team to a Super Bowl in 1987. He became the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl, much less earn MVP honors, by throwing four second-quarter touchdowns to beat John Elway's Denver Broncos.
Watch the following clip which sums up the fortune of the Tampa Bay Bucs in 1979. An amazing touchdown run by Doug Williams sends the fans into a frenzy only to lead to the dissapointment of the very next play.