Friday, November 26, 1999

Bengals as bad as old Bucs?


No, says former Tampa Bay coach

BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        John McKay, the Casey Stengel of those sad-sack Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the late 1970s and early '80s, flipped through the channels last Sunday and came upon the Cincinnati-Baltimore game.

        “Oh, the Bengals,” McKay said to himself. “That's a team I can relate to.”

        So McKay, 76 and living in Tampa, watched the Bengals lose to the Ravens at the gun and had no idea Cincinnati had just rescued his old team from infamy. The loss was the Bengals' 106th of the '90s, tying the Bucs' 1980s record for most losses in a decade.

        “I feel sorry for them,' McKay said. “Actually, they looked better than we ever were. They just didn't win.”

        McKay is best known for laughing through the expansion Bucs of 1976-77 while they set a record for losing 26 straight games, a feat the Bengals have yet to threaten.

        His best line from that era: When asked about his team's execution, McKay replied, “I'm all for it.” Asked how he dealt with the losing, McKay said this week, “I committed suicide.”

        “No human being should have been subjected to that (expansion team),” said McKay.

        Still, McKay turned it around rather quickly with defense and a young quarterback named Doug Williams, leading the Bucs to the NFC title game after the 1979 season.

        “Doug was a good quarterback and I think if we had kept him, we would have been a much better team (in the '80s),” McKay said. “I thought (Bengals quarterback Jeff Blake) looked pretty good Sunday. You need a good one.”

        After Williams left, the Bucs were subjected to a string of young quarterbacks (sound familiar?) and it took them years to regain respectability.

        Asked why they let Williams go, McKay said, “We didn't want to pay him more than 20 bucks a month. I take some of the blame. There were some people who didn't think you had to spend money to make money, but sometimes that's not the case.”

        McKay didn't seem too shaken up that the Bengals are about to wipe the Bucs from the books: “I never think back to those days. Not at all.”

       



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