The 1970s and 80s Buccaneer teams were defined by futility. Defenders couldn’t tackle, receivers couldn’t catch, and quarterbacks — regardless of who John McKay deployed under center — struggled miserably against the opposition. It was an era of legendary inability in Tampa, best conveyed through the comedy of passers that McKay, Leeman Bennett, Ray Perkins, and Richard Williamson sent to their dooms against hungry NFL defenses.
Here’s a list of the five worst; men that started at least three games for Tampa Bay and set new standards for ineptitude in what was already the most impotent franchise in professional sports.
5. Mike Rae (1-4 record, 59.0 passer rating)
Mike Rae was a young passer from the Canadian league, brought in — after washing out in Oakland — to back up Doug Williams, Tampa’s first-round pick in 1978. Late that same season, Doug Williams went down with an injury. The Buccaneers were a competitive 4-6 when Rae stepped in, only a handful of plays away from being an NFC-best 8-2, and were showing signs of life after two of the worst seasons in league history.
The team flat-lined under Rae. The Buccaneers dropped four of their next five, the sole victory against a reeling 5-11 Buffalo Bills team. After the win, the Buccaneers combined to score 13 points in three games, culminating in a 6-3 defeat at the hands of the 2-14 49ers, the NFL’s worst team.
Rae would remain with the team through the 1979 season. Late in that year — against the Rams in the NFC Championship game — Rae would relieve Doug Williams, complete 2 of 13 passes, and lead the Bucs to zero points with the Super Bowl on the line.
4. Chris Chandler (0-6 record, 40.0 passer rating)
Chris Chandler was drafted by the Colts in the third round of the 1988 NFL Draft, and the Colts thought so little of him, they traded him to Tampa Bay after only 18 games for Tampa’s first-round pick.
Chandler spent most of his time in Tampa badmouthing incumbent starter Vinny Testaverde, and when he was finally awarded the opportunity to start in 1990, he lost his inaugural three contests by a combined score of 24-79. He was given another shot in 1991 and tossed only one touchdown against five picks, and the Bucs were blown out in all three of his starts that season.
Chandler went 70 for 151 (46%), 815 yards, 2 TD, and 10 INT in his six starts. He was cut midway through the 1991 season, and — next to Bo Jackson — is the biggest waste of a first-round pick in franchise history.
3. Jerry Golsteyn (0-3 record, 58.3 passer rating)
As the 1982 season came to a close, starting quarterback Doug Williams petitioned team owner Hugh Culverhouse for a pay raise. Culverhouse and Williams failed to come to an agreement, Williams fled to the USFL, and the Buccaneers started the 1983 season with Jerry Golsteyn at quarterback.
Golsteyn was a 12th round selection out of Northern Illinois and spent his first three seasons bouncing around the league. He was Doug Williams’s backup in 1982, but John McKay called on him to open the year against the Detroit Lions.
He was pulled after two disastrous performances — replaced by Jack Thompson, who was only slightly more competent — and stumbled back into the starting lineup in Week 12 against Chicago. Golsteyn ended the season — and his career in the NFL — by going 3 for 13 (23%), 49 yards, and 1 INT against Mike Singletary and the 1983 Bears.
2. Jeb Blount (0-4 record, 27.5 passer rating)
Jeb Blount was never given a fair shot in Oakland. The All-American quarterback out of Tulsa was Oakland’s second-round draft choice in 1976. He missed his entire rookie season with injuries and was cut before the start of his second season.
Things didn’t get any better for him.
The Buccaneers picked him up on waivers in the preseason, and Blount became the third ring in John McKay’s 1977 quarterback circus. Jeb started four games in the middle of the season — weeks seven, eight, nine, and ten — and led only three scoring drives in the four contests. Two of Blount’s seven interceptions were returned for touchdowns, the resulting 14 points almost as many as Blount’s Buccaneers scored in his brief tenure as a starting quarterback.
1. Randy Hedberg (0-4 record, 4.1 passer rating)
Since 1948, 66 quarterbacks have bottomed out the passer rating formula, and they’re a collective 7-59 in those games. Randy Hedberg — one of three Buccaneer quarterbacks to see starting time in 1977 — posted a 0.0 rating for his career, and understandably, lost every game he appeared in.
Hedberg’s ineptitude was mind blowing. In four starts, the 22-year-old passer out of Minot State cemented his legend as the worst quarterback to ever earn a spot on a first-string offense. The Buccaneers averaged 1.5 points per game with Hedberg at the helm, and the rookie quarterback managed to throw five interceptions in those four contests despite averaging a historically awful 2.73 yards per attempt.
Sixty-six running backs averaged more yards per rush than Hedberg did per pass in 1977.
Randy Hedberg was cut after his inaugural season, and remains the only contemporary quarterback with multiple starts to register a zero on the passer rating scale.
He never caught on with another NFL squad, but found his niche coaching Division II college football. He compiled a 92-74-2 record on-and-off as a head coach since 1982, and has spent the last four seasons coaching quarterbacks at Southern Illinois — presumably in what not to do.