Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Review of "The Yucks!"

While it is generally true that fans love a winner, there are some losers who become well known and loved.  Examples of teams that achieved this status are the 1962 New York Mets, the 1974-75 Washington Capitals and the 1976-77 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The latter of these lovable losers is the subject of this terrific book by Jason Vuic. Here is my review of "The Yucks!"

“The Yucks!: Two Years in Tampa With the Losingest Team in NFL History” by Jason Vuic

Football (American), professional, history, Buccaneers

Publish date:
August 30, 2016

256 pages

5 of 5 stars (outstanding)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered the National Football League in 1976 and immediately became a nationally-known team. Not because of their excellent play, but because they put together an incredible losing streak by losing all 14 of their games in 1976 and the first 12 games of the season in 1977.  When they finally ended the streak by defeating the New Orleans Saints, it was such an embarrassment that the Saints fired head coach Hank Stram. It was a road game, so when the Buccaneers returned home that evening, over 8000 fans were at the airport to greet the team. Their Bucs had been a national punch line for so long, they were just happy that it was finally over.

The adventures of this beleaguered team and the stories behind the losing are captured in this often hilarious, always entertaining book by Jason Vuic. His previous work was about the Yugo, probably the worst car ever sold in the United States, so it just seemed natural that he would follow up with a book on the worst football team in the history of the NFL. The 1976-77 Bucs were considered even worse than the 2009 Detroit Lions who also went through an entire season without a win.

The book chronicles the arduous route taken for the Tampa area to secure an NFL franchise and the expansion draft that left very few talented players for the Bucs to build their team.  Much of the humor in the book comes from the caustic first coach in Bucs history, John McKay. McKay was a successful college coach, winning national championships at the University of Southern California, but even he couldn’t take this rag-tag collection of players and produce a win from them in that first season. There are many quotes from McKay that will leave the reader laughing hard, even if it is the one hundredth time he or she has heard that one. One of the more famous quotes (in which the book raises doubt to its origin to McKay) is when asked about his team’s execution, McKay replied “I’m all for it.”  

There are also many stories about owner Hugh Culverhouse, who was notoriously cheap – he would make players put money in a vending machine for sodas and had the walls of the team’s training facility painted white in order to avoid buying a projector screen. It was one of the reasons given that the team was so bad, but no amount of money could have bought the publicity that the Buccaneers had when the losing streak lasted into 1977 and was often the subject of many jokes from late night television legend Johnny Carson. 

It was at this time when the team became a beloved group of losers in much the same manner as the 1962 New York Mets. The country started paying attention and the tension mounted within the team to finally break the streak.  Readers of the book will feel the same tension, even if they were already familiar with the history of the team and the streak.  Even though I remember the game well, I was cheering with joy when they beat the Saints and ended the streak and the jokes.

This book is best for football fans or readers familiar with the lingo of the game as it is full of this type of text. However, the humor in the book will make any reader laugh loud and long and for that reason alone, this book is one that every football fan should add to his or her library.

I wish to thank Simon and Schuster for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Format Read:
E-book (Kindle)

Buying links (pre-order at time of posting):

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