The 1976 Expansion Buccaneer Linebackers
The early success of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was built on their defense and primarily their linebackers. But only one of those players, Richard Wood, came from the expansion team. The rest of the linebacking corps for the 1976 team paled into insignificance compared to their later brothers.
53Larry BallPlayed in all but one game in1976 having also been a member of the 1972 perfect Dolphins alongside DT Maulty Moore. 59Pete BarnesNFL veteran of three other teams who played in the final three pre-season games but was released in the final roster cutdown.
56 Bubba BroussardWas a 6th round pick of the Vikings but came to the Bucs in the allocation draft from Chicago. Did not make the team. 55Warren CaponeFormer Dallas Cowboy who played in the final three pre-season games but was released in the final roster cutdown.
54 Steve ColavitoUndrafted linebacker who played four games with the Eagles late in the 1975 season. Did not make the Bucs' team. 80Ralph ColemanWas an 8th round pick of the Cowboys in 1972 and his NFL career amounted to just one game with them that season.
56 Bert CooperPlayed in 12 games with three starts before going on IR having been injured in the loss to the Oakland Raiders. Bruce EliaWas selected in the expansion draft from the Dolphins, but was then traded two days later to the San Francisco 49ers alongside WR Willie McGee for QB Steve Spurrier.
96 Larry ElyWas an expansion draft selection from the Bears but did not make the 1976 Buccaneers out of training camp. 30Jimmy GunnMade the most starts of any linebacker in 1976 for the Bucs but was not able to keep his job the following year.
55 Charles HuntPlayed Weeks 5 through 9 as a special teamer and back-up linebacker and amassed one tackle in each area before being released from the NFL for good on leaving Tampa Bay. 59Leroy JohnsonUndrafted free agent linebacker who never played in the NFL at all. Another of those real unknown camp bodies whose only claim to fame in the pros is one line in a media guide.
47 Ted JornovWas a 13th round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1974 draft but never played in the NFL at all. Had come to Tampa as a free agent looking for a chance to make it in the league. 50Tim KearneyWas first obtained in the expansion draft and traded, and then signed as a free agent in Week 2. Declared inactive for the San Diego game and then was released.
59 Mike LemonWas signed midway through 1976 and wound up being with the Bucs for parts of two seasons as a special teamer. 50Steve MaughanWas placed on IR with a shoulder injury during training camp and then missed all of 1977 with Hodgkins' disease.
58 Calvin PetersonStarted the first four games and then hurt his knee. Returned for the Denver game but went on IR for good after that. 57Jim PetersonPlayed in the first three games with two starts before going on IR with a knee injury. Was a camp cut in 1977.
52 Steve ReeseThe same as Richard Wood, was obtained with the Jets in a trade. Started 10 games for the 1976 Buccaneers. 91Steadman ScavellaRookie out of Miami who was released during the pre-season campaign and never played in the NFL at all.
55Jimmie SimsWent by the name of "Psycho" and played the final two games of the 1976 season having been signed as a free agent because of all the injury problems suffered by the Bucs. 55Sid SmithSwitched from center to middle linebacker for his senior year at college and hence got himself drafted but never played in the NFL. Was the Bucs' 10th round pick in 1976.
Doug SwiftWas part of the perfect 1972 Miami Dolphins team alongside Larry Ball but unlike No.53, Swift never played for the Bucs and indeed never even made it as far as training camp. 49Tom WestPlayed running back and tight end in college but was drafted as a linebacker despite not having played the position since high school. Not surprisingly, never played in the NFL
54Richard WoodWent on to a very successful 10-year career with the Bucs playing in over 130 games. Known as "The Batman".