- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 27, 2008

TAMPA, Fla. | Pat Toomay has had enough.

For more than three decades, the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers set the modern standard for NFL futility by going 0-14. But Toomay would just as soon let someone else - the Detroit Lions, for example - finish winless and spend the next 30 years answering questions about sheer ineptitude.

“The luster wears off,” said Toomay, a defensive end on the expansion team, which was shut out five times and outscored 412-125. “I would like the torch to be passed. At the same time, you don’t want to wish that on anybody.”

Several teams have flirted with winless seasons since the Bucs, wearing Creamsicle uniforms and helmets bearing a winking pirate logo, were trounced by an average of almost three touchdowns. The 1980 Saints were 0-14 before winning in the 15th game. The Colts went 0-8-1 during the strike-shortened 1982 season and were 0-13 on the way to finishing 3-13 in 1986. Several other teams have won only one game since the NFL adopted a 16-game schedule in 1978, including last year’s Miami Dolphins.

The ‘76 Bucs, playing in the AFC West, which Super Bowl champion Oakland dominated with a 13-1 record, had a number of close calls, including a pair of three-point losses to fellow expansion team Seattle and to Miami. They lost to Kansas City by nine the following week, then dropped their last six games by an average of nearly 30 points.

Defending Super Bowl winner Pittsburgh pummeled them 42-0 in Week 13; Toomay will never forget the scene before a season-ending 31-14 loss to New England.

“By the time we got to the last game of the season, we had so many injuries that we didn’t feel we had much of a chance. Everybody was so sick of the season that they showed up packed and ready to get out of town,” Toomay said. “It looked like a bunch of Okies fleeing the Dust Bowl. … I was living in Dallas at the time, and I know my goal was to be out of the state by midnight.”

Count Steve Spurrier, the quarterback for the ‘76 Bucs, among those rooting for the Lions.

“I want that record,” the South Carolina coach said recently. “I think they’ll win a game. I’m pulling for them.

“That’s the American thing to do, isn’t it?”

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