09 Aug 2007
Some bittersweet news for Tampa Bay fans, as Mike Alstott will reportedly announce his retirement at 2 p.m. ET.
Alstott was never an easy player to figure or evaluate. All Bucs fans hold a soft spot in their heart for the bruising tailback/fullback. He was an integral part of the team's resurgence during the late 1990s and it's doubtful any player in history had more highlight-reel two-yard runs than the A-Train.
Yes, he was overrated, and the fact that he made the Pro Bowl as the starting fullback every year had as much to do with John Madden and Chris Berman as it did his ability. But he got to be called overrated so often, that he was actually underrated. Even as his role was reduced, to have him catch a swing pass, get those enormous shoulder pads parallel to the ground and run over some helpless DB always provided a lift the Bucs' sideline and the home crowd.
As a Bucs fan, I have two favorite memories of Alstott. The first was during the Super Bowl season of 2002. Late in a game against Cleveland, Jon Gruden started feeding Alstott the ball to salt away the clock. It was hot, the Browns were tired, and Alstott started running guys over left and right, including one carry where he must have broken seven tackles.
The other was Alstott's last hurrah. After returning from a serious neck injury, he became the short-yardage specialist in Tampa Bay's 2005 playoff season. Late that year, Tampa Bay won a huge contest against the Redskins by giving Alstott the ball for a two-point conversion attempt and the win in the final seconds. The entire stadium knew he was getting the ball, surely the Redskins did too. Maybe they stopped him -- you couldn't really tell -- but the official's arms went up, the Bucs won, and the most popular player in team history had his one final moment in the sun.
36 comments, Last at 10 Aug 2007, 12:48pm by Todd S.
Minor weaknesses dot these teams. Except for Arizona, which needs to bring in more help to really run Bruce Arians' offense.