Tampa's Fertile With Super Bowl QBs
By Dave Ford
It took 26 years for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to reach the pinnacle of success in the National Football League. Brad Johnson, the journeyman quarterback out of Florida State, was the man selected by head coach Jon Gruden to lead the franchise to glory in Super Bowl XXXVII. And when he helped lead the way to a 48-21 rout of the Oakland Raiders, Johnson made history in more ways than one.
During the span of time it took the historically terrible franchise to get sized for its first set of championship rings, three quarterbacks who once tried to lead the pumpkin colored “Yucks” experienced Super Bowl glory long before the team that drafted them finally felt it for the first time. Doug Williams, the current head coach at Grambling State University, is at the top of that list.
Not only was Williams the first signal-caller to lead Tampa Bay to success on the field, he later became the first former Buccaneer quarterback to win a world title when he led Washington to a 42-10 drubbing over three-point favorite Denver in Super Bowl XXII. Williams, who once led the Bucs to the NFC Championship game in 1979, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player and became the first African American QB to win a Super Bowl.
By the time Steve Young retired in 1999, he had become one of the game’s all-time greats at the quarterback position. But success didn’t come easily for the two-time NFL MVP. In fact, Young endured two consecutive 2-14 seasons as the starting QB for the Bucs before he was traded to San Francisco in 1987. After serving four seasons as backup to Joe Montana, Young took the reins of the 49er offense in 1991 and never looked back. Three years later, Young guided the franchise to a record-setting fifth Super Bowl win – a 49-26 blowout over San Diego.
Trent Dilfer took his share of lumps as the Bucs QB from 1994-99. Only one year later and three seasons after being named to his first and only Pro Bowl, Dilfer managed the Baltimore Ravens offense well enough to win Super Bowl XXXV. Ironically enough, he did so on his former home field inside Raymond James Stadium.
When Johnson held up the Lombardi Trophy, he became the first active Bucs quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Unfortunately for him after being cut by the team in 2004, Johnson’s career rolled rapidly downhill and he never found post-Buccaneers success like his signal-calling predecessors. Six years after becoming a hero in Tampa Bay, Johnson faded into retirement following two forgettable seasons in Dallas.
So, what does that all mean for current Bucs starting QB Josh Freeman, who enters the 2013-14 season under the microscope?
Time only will tell.