Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

09 Aug 2007

Alstott Expected to Announce Retirement

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.

Posted by: Russell Levine on 09 Aug 2007

36 comments, Last at 10 Aug 2007, 12:48pm by Todd S.

Comments

1
by Brian (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 12:45pm

With all the fantasy football HoF hype lately, he'll be remembered as the premeir scavange-back, just ahead of Tyrone Wheatley.

2
by krugerindustrialsmoothing (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 12:55pm

Judging solely from his DPAR vs. TD's of the past few years he will be missed more by fantasy owners and nostalgics (if that is even a word) than the Bucs. Nonetheless, fairwell #40.

3
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 12:57pm

I always thought it was a shame that Allstot never was willing to lead block more and play like a conventional fullback. He probably made the right decision in terms of money earned over his career but used in a two back set with a tailback he could have helped make an offense unstoppable. He was as big a load with the ball I have ever seen and had very soft hands, he could have been the ultimate West Coast fullback. Imagine John Rathman with wheels.

4
by Mike B (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 1:04pm

Well, looks like I won't be signing up for my other fantasy football league that only rewards points for touchdowns scored on 3rd and 1 plays. And I had the first pick too, damn.

5
by bartleby (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 1:22pm

What does this do to KUBIAK for Cadillac and Michael Pittman?

6
by Nathan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 1:30pm

When it's a player FO doesn't care for, it's all negative on a player retiring close to camp. They aren't allowed to make a person decision.

When it's a likable player, it's about walking over their career, and giving tribute to what they've provided.

7
by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 1:39pm

Nathan - That isn't an FO-specific attitude.

8
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 1:42pm

The difference between Alstott and Strahan being, of course, that DE is a teensy more important position than FB.

9
by Nathan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 1:48pm

So only important positions matter? Glad that was cleared up because Mike Minter and Alstott didn't effect their teams like a DE, they are allowed to make a personal decision without criticism.

10
by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 1:53pm

Nathan,

FO has an anti-Giants bias (unless your favorite team isn't the Giants, in which case they are biased against your favorite team). Just accept it and move on.

11
by Nathan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 2:01pm

It's cute to make up the reason it bothers me, and then mock it. However it doesn't bother me because I think FO has a bias. I don't think FO has any team bias whatsoever.

I think FO often belittles the human beings playing the game if it affects the game. If the game is hurt by a player leaving, then that's an opportunity to attack the person.

This has happened a few times, and it goes to show how little fans care about the human beings and their right to decide what to do with their life.

But yeah, it's easier to talk about bias than confront real issues.

12
by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 2:01pm

Is it a "resurgence" if the team never surged in the first place?

13
by MDZ (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 2:08pm

The reaction to camptime retirements depends pretty heavily on the reliance/depth that the team has on the retiring player. Due to injuries and decline Alstott wasn't a huge part of the Buc offense. He had 60 carries and 21 receptions last year. Strahan (or Willie Roaf and to a lesser extent Jimmy Smith) was still playing near his peak level and was expected to be the focal point of the defense and leaves the team in a worse position than Alstott's retirement would leave the Bucs (and not just because Strahan is a significantly superior player to Alstott). Obviously fans will give slack to players they like, but in the past when a guy retires and leaves his team with a big hole they are critiqued more harshly than if there was a solid heir apparent on the bench.

14
by sam (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 2:10pm

11:
Is he retiring for personal reasons, or is the bottom line that no matter how much he wants to play he just can't get it done anymore?

Because surely the Bucs weren't looking for Alstott to carry the offense. Strahan was expected to start at Defensive End, and be an integral part of the defense. If an essentially bench player decides its not worth it, I'm not sure what the problem is.

15
by Gerry (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 2:13pm

"FO has an anti-Giants bias"

Of course they do! Big Blue against the world!

Oh, wait. You were being sarcastic. That's ok, so am I. Although I do think they are being more bearish on the G-men than is warranted.

16
by Jumpin Jahosofat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 2:22pm

That's it for Alstott??

So long Butter Fingers!!

17
by Russell Levine :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 2:22pm

Re: 12

1979, man. 1979!

As for the Strahan/Minter comparison, I don't think it applies to a guy like Alstott, who's role has been reduced every single year since 2003. He carried 60 times last year, with 22 of those coming in a single game in Week 16. He was a role player, and probably wasn't going to see the field much even as a fullback or in short yardage. I'm sure Gruden is happy he's leaving, he won't have to hear a million questions each week as to why he doesn't use Alstott more.

Personally, I have no problem with any player who decides to walk away from the NFL at any point. Let's face it, it's not exactly a healthy profession. When these guys don't want to do it anymore, they should quit. If their contract requires them to forfeit bonus money for doing so, so be it.

18
by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 2:29pm

#11, what are you talking about?

19
by MSF (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 2:31pm

As to Nathan's underlying complaint I don't see the evidence. There is no comment from FO about Minter per se- the comment is short and about the effect on the team. Similarly, the comment about Stahan calls him lame- if this is contract posturing and that it is bad for the Giants if it is not. How is that "negative" about the player, or denying him the right to act? Also, Alstott went to camp and apparently couldn't get it done. That is qualitatively different from the back and forth quality of the Strahan saga.
None of the FO comments actually criticize a player for retiring they simply comment on the effect of the team. Poster comments are of course a separate question.

20
by Nathan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 3:06pm

Mike Minter was an example in the same light as Alstott, not an example highlighting the treatment Strahan received.

This isn't the first case. Without looking through the extra points, I recall this happened last year as well.

I agree completely with Russell, "Personally, I have no problem with any player who decides to walk away from the NFL at any point. Let’s face it, it’s not exactly a healthy profession. When these guys don’t want to do it anymore, they should quit. If their contract requires them to forfeit bonus money for doing so, so be it."

If we look towards Strahan's motives, let's quote him from This week in Quotes,

“What’s been most disappointing has been all of this nonsense that I’m holding out for more money … Despite what some might believe there are those of us who make decisions that have nothing to do with money.�

– Strahan

It's been most disappointing to me as well, and I wanted to bring it up as well as other players have received different treatment on here.

21
by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 3:32pm

Nathan, could you point to another example, as I'm not sure I've seen that. I'm also more willing to believe that this is due to Russell being a Bucs fan while nobody on staff is a Giants fan, IIRC. Although, a Giants fan might've taken the Strahan news worse than an impartial observer...

22
by Joe T. (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 3:53pm

The Skins stopped Alstott on that 2-point conversion. That was some piss-poor officiating.

But thats ok, WAS won the game against TB that mattered.

23
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 3:55pm

#10:

FO is biased against the Dolphins, too. I haven;t proven it yet but this is just a Pats fan site so they'll slip up sooner or later :-)

I wonder if the Bucs will go after Alstott's bonus money now for committing the heinous sin of retiring like they are with Plummer. Retiring in the middle of camp is bad, kids. Don't try it at home.

Even *I'm* sick of Strahan, and I neither loved nor hated him before. Let me get this straight, he asks for more money and then when he doesn't get it all of a sudden he's just not feeling it anymore? Yeah, that's a holdout. Helpful hint: when anyone says it's not about the money, it's about nothing else but the money.

The Giants have taken the proper stance on this. You're under contract, you report to camp. Period.

24
by Stereochemistry (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 4:03pm

Few updates after listening to the actual press conference:

Alstott is going on IR.

It might seem silly to a few fans outside of the local Tampa area to hold a press conference to inform everyone that a marginal player in the current offensive game plan is going on IR, but the media has made a big deal out of previous players "injuries" and their status with the team (Lynch, Quarles, Simms, Rice) that to get the official word out, it was probably necessary.

Alstott said at the PC that he injured his neck in camp, and that they discovered it after his neck pain wasn't going away after the regular "soreness" of camp did. He checked with the Bucs medical staff as well as his personal surgeon (who handled his previous neck injury in 2003). Based on the MRI and other tests, it was determined that there was too much stress on the area above his previous surgury to continue playing football.

He did not have any problems before arriving at camp, and was ready to play this season. Due to the injury, he will be placed on IR while they wait to take more tests after some time has gone by. Those tests will provide a timeline for how long it would take to heal that area of his body, and would determine if he could return to football.

So officially, he has not retired. He will remain with the team, he will continue to be a part of the teams preparations "in any way that I can" according to his words, but he will have to do it from the sidelines and in the meeting and locker rooms.

I think the comparison to Strahan can be dropped at this point.

25
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 4:36pm

Dammit, I'm severely disappointed now. Seriously. I was actually sorta hoping the Bucs would have the balls to go after his bonus money a la Plummer just to see how everyone reacted.

Preseason football can't get here soon enough.

26
by Cathedraticum (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 5:01pm

#12 using Sports Guy logic I believe it would just be a surgence instead of a resurgence.

27
by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 5:22pm

Sure, nobody throws up the example of Tarik "who's he?" Glenn, Indy's LT. One step below elite status, a few pro bowls, protected Manning's blind side for 138 of his 144 games. A few more false starts than he'd like to acknowledge--one at the goal line in the Pitt playoff game two years ago that I say cost them the first of what would have been two consecutive SBs. That guy.

Retired about two weeks ago, to great yawning nationwide. And I'd venture that the LOT in Indy is as valuable as the RDE on the Giants.

So there's other things at work; Strahan's situation is well documented. Glenn is suspected to have told management of his intentions because they took a bit of a gamble trading away 2008's 1st rnd draft pick to get another LOT in the 2nd rnd of the 2007 draft. That makes him appear to be a team-first kind of guy, even though to most of us the decision seems pretty last-minute and selfish. I believe Glenn already repaid the pro-rated portion of his last bonus. That is a man who is prepared to put it all behind him.

28
by Randy S. (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 6:07pm

27 - It seems like Indy knew in advance that he might leave. Why else would they trade a first round pick to draft an LT in the 2nd round? Presumably Glenn told them he might/will retire sometime before the draft.

Maybe Strahan also let the Giants FO know beforehand that he was considering retirement. Based on their draft, however, it doesn't seem like they had any advance notice.

29
by James, London (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 7:04pm

#21

Bill is a Giants fan. As to the broader point, if a team cuts a player at the end of camp, when his opportunity to negotiate the best possible deal with another team is gone no-one slaughters the team for this, so why hammer a player when he does the same to a team?

If a player is cut he keeps his signing bonus; if he retires he pays it back. All's fair in love and war. I don't see what the big deal is.

30
by Paul (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 9:00pm

Why is the picture in the linked article of someone who is clearly not Alstott, unless he had a color change when I wasn't looking?

31
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 9:17pm

#30:

Probably for the same reason there was a picture of a coach who was clearly not Lovie Smith in the coach ratings article.

I wonder who's gong to be misidentified next? It's kinda amusing, and do I ever need to be amused this time of year.

32
by masocc (not verified) :: Fri, 08/10/2007 - 2:54am

Re #30:
Actually, that IS Alstott. Considering he's playing Miami, that photo is from either a pre-season game, or from the October 16th 2005 game.

Either way, he's still sporting his stylish 'camp tan'.

33
by masocc (not verified) :: Fri, 08/10/2007 - 2:59am

And I'm pretty sure that's Lovie in the coach rankings article. You're just not used to seeing him in profile, since nearly EVERY other page/article uses the same 'head on, Lovie in suit' photo from his initial hiring.

34
by Theo, Holland (not verified) :: Fri, 08/10/2007 - 10:59am

30. 31.

"someone who is clearly not Alstott"

Let's see if it's Alstott...
Post 1998 Bucs uniform: check
#40: check
Big shoulderpads: check running with ball: check
Who would that be?

35
by Joe (not verified) :: Fri, 08/10/2007 - 11:33am

I faintly hear the sound of Chris Berman weeping.

36
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Fri, 08/10/2007 - 12:48pm

Alstott provided a lot of good memories at Purdue as well-when the team around him wasn't very good.