If you follow the NFL at all it is likely you have read that the Miami Dolphins are being accused of “tanking” in order to acquire the highest possible draft pick in 2020. They are so bad (their record is 0-4 and they have been outscored 163-26) that commentators and fans are already talking about a winless season.
Winless seasons are not as rare as they used to be in the NFL. Just two seasons ago the Cleveland Browns finished 0-16 and in 2008 the Detroit Lions did the same. However, one winless season seems to garner the most attention: the 0-14 record compiled by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their first season of existence, 1976. The picture above is of that team and is from espn.com.
You may not know that in their first year of existence the Bucs were in the AFC. Their fellow expansion team, the Seattle Seahawks, were in the NFC. The following season they would switch conferences. The Seahawks returned to the NFC in 2002 with the addition of the Houston Texans and the major realignment that followed.
In each of their first two seasons the Bucs and Seahawks played every other team in their conference once and played each other once. The schedule was still 14 games in 1976 and 1977. That schedule and the fact Tampa Bay was in the AFC in 1976 meant they played the Baltimore Colts, who were defending AFC East champions, and that meeting was in Baltimore.
My best friend, Dr. Zal, and I attended the game between the Bucs and the Colts, which was the fourth of the season. We were not amused when Tampa Bay scored first on a field goal although they had led 6-0 the previous week against Buffalo. That field goal seemed to wake up the Colts who proceeded to score the next 42 points. However, Dr. Zal and I were also not amused when Tampa Bay scored their first touchdowns of the season (and in their existence) in the fourth quarter. The Colts outgained the Buccaneers 458 to 89 and made 31 first downs to Tampa Bay’s six.
Tampa Bay was outscored 412-125 in 1976, an almost unfathomable differential. The worst point differential last season was amassed by the Arizona Cardinals who were outscored 425-225 in a 16-game season. Tampa Bay started the next season 0-12, setting the all-time record for an NFL losing streak, before winning their last two games in 1977. However, by 1979 the Buccaneers were a playoff team winning the NFC Central Division. Does that mean hope exists for Miami? Who knows…
Some car enthusiasts lament the development of what they call “nanny” aids like ABS and traction control. They say those systems have taken away “road feel” and real control of a car. Well, all that may be true, but it is also true that automobiles and other “light” vehicles are safer than ever, for the same level of driving skill and attention. Here’s a relevant passage from the excellent book, Steve Magnante’s 1001 Corvette Facts. If you are a Corvette fan or hope to learn more about them I highly recommend Steve’s book. Anyway, from fact #714:
“Without computer-controlled handling systems…there was no way Corvette or Detroit’s other automakers could put such powerful cars in the hands of the general public. Today, every high-performance muscle car has some form of an active-handling system to preserve order and help keep less capable drivers out of harm’s way.”
Of course, modern safety systems make all cars safer and not just performance cars. Trying to tie a car to the first year of the Buccaneers existence is not easy as 1976 was not a good year for American cars given the denuding of performance caused by government regulations and insurance companies. From supercars.net a photo of a car that could still scream:
This is a 1976 Lamborghini Countach. The Countach is a legendary car, posters of which were on the bedroom wall of countless teenage boys. No doubt, far more posters were sold than cars. Only about 2,000 of the Countach were produced despite a long production run from 1974 to 1990.
In 1976, the Countach was powered by a 3.9 liter/240 cubic-inch V-12 that produced 370 HP/266 LB-FT of torque. As a comparison, the more powerful of two Corvette engines that year produced just 210 HP although the torque output was close to the Countach’s at 255 LB-FT.
As I and others have written, the golden age of automobiles is now. Enjoy it before the electric automatons take over.
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