Number 5: Bert Emanuel – WR (1998-1999)
Quick side note, just look at that Veteran’s Stadium turf in the above picture. It is just so gloriously horrendous. Conveniently, the same can pretty much be said about Bert Emanuel’s time with the Buccaneers. Emanuel’s time in Tampa is most known for a play at the end of the 1999 NFC Championship against the then St. Louis Rams.
With 52 seconds left and the ball on the Rams’ 36-yard line, the Buccaneers found themselves with an unfortunate 2nd and 23. Quarterback Shaun King threw an absolute dart to Emanuel who caught the ball at the Rams’ 23-yard line to set up a manageable 3rd and 10 in four-down territory, or so we thought. At the time, the rules stated that if the ball touched the ground at any point, regardless of control, the pass was incomplete. It’s up for debate on whether the ball actually hit the ground, but for what it’s worth the NFL came out after the game and stated that the call was incorrect. Long story short, the Rams stopped the Buccaneers on 3rd and 23 then again on a 4th and 23 hail mary to the end zone that essentially ended the game and the Buccaneers Super Bowl hopes.
Rewinding a bit, after spending four monster seasons with the division-rival Atlanta Falcons where he racked up 260 catches for 3,600 yards and 24 touchdowns, the Buccaneers decided to sign Emanuel to a four-year contract worth $16 million. Upon signing, the writing appeared to already be on the wall as Emanuel was hampered with injuries. He would go on to only total 63 catches for 874 yards and three touchdowns in his two seasons with the Buccaneers. He was released a few weeks after the 1999 NFC Championship, with his non-catch being the last time he ever touched the ball with Tampa.