With our Buccaneers play of the year tournament unfolding, we take a look at the most emotional play of the year. Of course, I’m referring to Alterraun Verner‘s interception against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Buccaneers made a lot of really big plays this season. But there wasn’t one that meant as much as Alterraun Verner’s interception in week 12 against the Seattle Seahawks.
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We know the story. Verner, a seven-year veteran, lost his father suddenly just two days before Tampa Bay’s matchup with Seattle. He understandably missed practice, but returned to the team for Sunday’s game. Not only did he play, but he came up with a big-time interception with under a minute to go in the first half. With the Bucs leading 14-5 and the Seahakws driving, Verner jumped a Russell Wilson pass and took it the other way. He was overcome with emotion, staying down with the ball for a few seconds while being swarmed by his teammates.
The moment as a whole represented what we all love about sports. It gets lost on some fans that these are not just players, but human beings. To see the Bucs rally around Verner in what had to be one of the toughest times of his life was just incredible. The fact that No. 21 even stepped foot on the field was impressive. I mentioned it in my “memorable moments” countdown, so I’ll say it again: I can’t say with any certainty that I would’ve been able to play if I had been in Alterraun Verner’s shoes. Verner’s reason for playing was unbelievably inspiring:
"“He made so many sacrifices for me to get where I am today, and I just know that he wouldn’t want to be the cause for me not to play, so that’s why I decided to play. I wanted to honor him knowing all that he did to try to get me to where I am today.”"
That’s just great stuff. It serves as a reminder to all of us that life is bigger than sports, but sometimes sports can provide an escape in the lowest of times.
Of course, Tampa Bay went on to pitch a shutout in the second half to finish the upset of the eventual NFC West champions. The win was huge, but Verner’s pick was perhaps bigger.
Was it the most athletic play of the year? No, it wasn’t. It was a standard interception, really. But, it had so much meaning behind it. There was so much emotion involved, and that’s what makes it the play of the year for the Buccaneers.