With the 2022 NFL Draft right around the corner, let’s look at a Draft story from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers past that almost doesn’t seem real. Such was life for the dark ages of the Buccaneers, otherwise known as the “Suckaneers” or the “Yucks” right around the time this Draft concluded.
It’s honestly one of the world’s great mysteries why this doesn’t get brought up enough around draft time as a cautionary tale. Perhaps the reasoning is that the technology and players involved are pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of things as it pertains to the NFL and the current modern society as a whole.
Anyhoo, here’s the Tampa Bay tea.
Heading into the 1982 draft, the Bucs had their sights set on Booker Reese, a raw, but athletic specimen from small predominantly black Bethune-Cookman college in Daytona Beach, Florida. Also on their board was Penn State guard Sean Farrell. They planned on taking Reese with their 17th overall pick as he was at the top of their board.
Only it didn’t happen that way.
One thing that many people don’t know about the NFL Draft, is that the representatives present that we see on television at the event answering the phone and handing the Commissioner the pick are random team employees. In this case, it was Buccaneers’ veteran equipment manager Pat Marcuccillo.
Ken Herock, the Bucs’ General Manager at the time, instructed Marcuccillo to write down two names – Reese and Farrell, and to stay tuned. After much debate, Herock called Marcuccillo on the heavy-static phone of the early 1980’s (this was a thing until fairly recently kids) and told him “We’re not going with Sean Farrell, we’re going with Booker Reese. Turn it in.”
The problem was, due to all the background noise and static, Marcuccillo only heard the parts about “going with” and “Farrell” so he turned in the pick of Farrell to then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. Dumbfounded by what happened, and even trying to rescind the pick, the Buccaneers in a panic, and without a second-round pick of their own, traded their FIRST ROUND PICK in 1983 to the Chicago Bears for the Bears’ second-round pick in 1982 in order to select Reese. It’s also worth mentioning that the Bears and Bucs were division rivals at the time during the days of the old NFC Central division. (Not exactly the good old days)
The irony of all of this is, Farrell was a solid starter on the offensive line, while Reese, the man they wanted in Farrell’s spot, fell out of the first round altogether, and flamed out of the NFL by 1985.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise would eventually fall apart after the season followed this Draft, primarily due to then-owner Hugh Culverhouse refusing to pay quarterback Doug Williams, however front office shenanigans were a sign of things to come, and come they did. Fortunately, things are looking much further up for the franchise these days. Don’t forget how well you have it and appreciate it.