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By ERNEST HOOPER
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 21, 2001
Through the history of the NFL, certain labels have forecast greatness: Penn State linebacker, USC running back, BYU quarterback, Michigan offensive lineman. But perhaps no label has been a better harbinger of rejuvenated success than former Bucs quarterback. Consider these examples:
DOUG WILLIAMS (1978-82): Until the Tony Dungy era, Williams was the only quarterback to guide the Bucs to the playoffs with post-season trips in 1979, '81 and '82. But in 1983, owner Hugh Culverhouse refused to meet the salary demands of the former first-round pick, so the quarterback left for the Oklahoma Outlaws of the United States Football League. He resurfaced in the NFL with the Washington Redskins and helped them reach Super Bowl XXII in January of 1988. In becoming the first African-American quarterback to start a Super Bowl, he threw for four touchdowns in the second quarter and was named the most valuable player in the Redskins' 42-10 victory over Denver.
STEVE YOUNG (1985-86): Young is the greatest of all the former Bucs quarterbacks. He spent two years scrambling for safety at Tampa Stadium after being acquired in a supplemental draft. He is remembered by teammates for having a beat-up convertible Cadillac, but in the end, Young wound up riding in style as the 49ers quarterback. Tampa Bay traded him to San Francisco in 1987 for cash and two fourth-round picks that would be used on linebacker Winston Moss and receiver Bruce Hill. After spending several years as Joe Montana's backup, Young would revel in his own championship glory, a 49-26 victory over San Diego in Super Bowl XXIX. He retired last season as the league's career-leader in passing efficiency.
STEVE DEBERG (1984-87, 1992-93): You would think being a two-time former Tampa Bay quarterback would have guaranteed DeBerg twice as much success, but it didn't quite work that way. He did, however, have one solid season between those two stints. As the Kansas City starter in 1991, he helped the Chiefs reach the 1991 divisional playoffs with a wild card victory over the Raiders. DeBerg also was a backup for Atlanta when the Falcons reached Super Bowl XXXIII in January 1999.
CHRIS CHANDLER (1990-91): Chandler is the most controversial of the Bucs quarterbacks. He spent only a season-and-a-half in Tampa Bay, but the turmoil was high because he feuded with starter Vinny Testaverde. After trading a first-round pick to Indianapolis to acquire Chandler, the Bucs ended the spat by giving Chandler his unconditional release. His nomadic romp around the league wound up in Atlanta, where he helped the Falcons to an upset win over Minnesota in the 1998 NFC Championship Game and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIII.
VINNY TESTAVERDE (1987-92): There may have been no other Bucs quarterback who was more maligned than Testaverde. There were certainly quarterbacks with less talent and weaker statistics, but Testaverde's 112 interceptions as a Buc and the six seasons of futility that marked his Tampa Bay career drew ire from all circles. The Bucs finally parted ways with Testaverde, who left in free agency for Cleveland shortly after the Bucs signed then-Steelers quarterback Neil O'Donnell to an offer sheet. After six seasons with the Browns/Ravens, Testaverde returned to his native New York and starred for the Jets, helping them reach the AFC Championship Game.
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