Our longtime local sports nightmare is finally over, after 1884 attempts the Bucs finally returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Much like their former losing streak in cold weather games this was a streak which haunted the Franchise in every game they played as announcers felt obliged to rub it in the fan's faces. There is even a website dedicated to the former streak. And Tampa Bay has the the formerly unknown Michael Spurlock to thank for finally erasing that historic streak.
But who is Michael Spurlock?
If you do a Google search for "Michael Spurlock" the first result turns up this guy, a Doctor of Nutrition at Iowa State.
And the second result turns up a slightly closer although still wrong result, a former linebacker for the Memphis Tigers. While the Bucs kick returner may not be the best known Michael Spurlock on the intertubes he is certainly one of the best players to come out of the state of Mississippi.
The Buccaneers Michael Spurlock played quarterback at Gentry High School in Indianola Mississippi, a town of 12,000 whose claim to fame is that is was the hometown of B.B. King. During his high school career Spurlock passed for a state class 5-A records of 3,348 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2000. Spurlock also set a state record for points in a game when he three for 9 touchdowns, ran for 2 touchdowns AND kicked all of his team's extra points...accounting for all 71 of his high school's points in the game. He also lettered in basketball and baseball, and was voted the baseball team's MVP and Best Defensive Player three times.
Spurlock started out playing quarterback at Ol' Miss, and in 2003 was behind Eli Manning on the depth chart. He started seven games at quarterback in 2005 before being moved to, and starting at, runningback for the last game of his college career. Spurlock was recuited by former Ol Miss assistant Richard Bisaccia, who is now the Bucs special teams coach.
Spurlock went undrafted out of college and was signed by Arizona last season. Spurlock played in only one game for the Cardinals and caught four passes, in addition to spot kick return duties.
Spurlock started the season on the Bucs practice roster and was not promoted to the active roster until the week of the Cardinals game, which was the first week of November for those keeping track at home. Spurlock returned kickoffs for the Bucs that Week 10 but up until last weekend's game at Houston was splitting kickoff return duties with Michael Clayton and Phillip Buchanon.
Before this week's game local newspaper Florida Today interviewed Spurlock and asked him about the possibility of returning a kickoff for a touchdown. Spurlock's response was an uninterested, "I don't see why not. We'll see what happens." It was not even a sure thing Spurlock would be active for today's game, although credit Stephen Holder of the Times for arguing the Bucs should make room on today's roster for Spurlock.
So kudos to Michael Spurlock for being the First Player in 32 years of Tampa Bay Buccaneer history to return a kickoff for a touchdown.