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Bill Serne/Tampa Bay Times
The back of Booker Reese’s 1984 Topps card said that his “improved pass-rushing techniques accounted for 16 quarterback pressures and one sack in 1983.” He would never record another NFL sack.
Topps
After two forgettable and unproductive seasons, Reese was dealt away. By 1985 he had washed out of the league altogether in a haze of underachievement and drugs. But the specter of Reese and the trade that brought him to Tampa Bay lingered, haunting the franchise for years to come.
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The Bucs call a draft-day (in)audible, via speaker phone

Sean Farrell was a finalist for the Lombardi Award and for the Outland Trophy—given annually to college football’s best linemen—during his stellar four-year career at Penn State.
Sporting News Archives/Sporting News/Getty Images
There was no noise, only stunned silence at first in the Bucs’ war room when Rozelle called out Farrell’s name on ESPN—in only its third year of televising the draft—and then a whole lot of angry shouting. Says Herock of the reaction, “There was a lot of cussing.”

The Booker Reese File

Born: Sept. 20, 1959 in Jacksonville, Fla.
Lives: Unknown
College: Bethune-Cookman
Position: Defensive End
Height: 6-6, Weight: 260
Drafted: 2nd round, pick 32, 1982
NFL/WireImage.com
  • Named ‘Black College Player of the Year’ in 1981
  • Lasted only four seasons in the NFL
  • Made 24 career appearances with Buccaneers
  • Traded to Rams in 1984 for a 12th-round draft pick
  • Signed with 49ers in 1985. Released before season after failing drug test
  • Recorded two career sacks and two interceptions
  • Convicted of cocaine possession in 1999
“I don’t know if it’s ever ever happened before or since where a team has turned in a pick and then tried to take it back,” Odioso says. “Is there a precedent for that? Mr. Culverhouse in essence was trying to lock the barn door after the horse was stolen.”

The first-round draft mistake that foretold the future

The Sean Farrell File

Born: May 25, 1960 in Southampton, N.Y.
Lives: Tampa, Fla.
College: Penn State
Position: Offensive guard
Height: 6-3, Weight: 260
Drafted: 1st round, pick 17, 1982
NFL/WireImage.com
  • Selected to All-America teams with Nittany Lions in 1980, ‘81
  • Played for Bucs from 1982-86, starting 59 games
  • Voted first-team NFL All-Pro by Sporting News in 1984
  • Traded to Patriots in ‘86 for three draft picks
  • Played for four NFL teams in 11-year career
  • Boston All Jerseys Boston Bruins Bruins All Jerseys Bruins Boston Jerseys Started 106 of his 123 career games
  • Currently is a director for Merrill Lynch
“When something goes that awry, it makes you wonder what’s going on,” Farrell says. “The organization was just so upside down.” In December 1986, Farrell unloaded on his own club, saying, “I know what I want for Christmas. I want to get the hell out of Tampa Bay.”
The Buccaneers won a total of just 17 games during Farrell’s five seasons in Tampa. Despite all of the losing, Farrell (62) was voted a first-team NFL All-Pro by The Sporting News and was picked as a Pro Bowl alternate in 1984.
Arthur Anderson/WireImage.com
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“There were things that just made you say, Holy cow, this place is different from any place I’ve seen,” Farrell says. “But one thing you can say about the ’82 draft, it was fitting. Because it just kind of matches the way everything went in the time period I was a Buccaneer, and for many years after.”

A trade for Booker Reese and the Bucs blunders just keep coming

Booker Reese was unblockable at Bethune-Cookman College—amassing 29 sacks during his senior season alone. But his unrefined pass-rushing skills came back to burn him at the professional level.
Courtesy of Tampa Bay Times
Let that one soak in for just a minute: Booker Reese might have come at the cost of Dan Marino. A botched pick doesn’t get more painful than that.
Wayne Fontes (left), the Bucs’ defensive coordinator from 1982 through ’84, was enamored of Reese’s seemingly freakish blend of speed, power and athleticism. Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse (right), meanwhile, was enamored of the bottom line. Under his reign, the sad-sack Bucs were among the NFL’s most profitable franchises.
Allen Dean Steele/Getty Images

Draft Disasters

In another panic move, Tampa Bay traded its 1984 first-round pick—which turned out to be No. 1 overall—to Cincinnati for quarterback Jack Thompson in 1983. He started only 16 games in two seasons with the Bucs, leading them to only three victories.
Phil Huber for Sports Illustrated
“If you put the book together on the number of quarterbacks who went through Tampa, it’s amazing,” Farrell says. “It was just a comedy of errors.”
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Reese wasn’t ready and the NFL was too big for him

Reese took his $150,000 signing bonus and set out to do a little car shopping, picking out a Firebird for himself and a van for his mother. When the salesman asked Reese how he wanted to pay, Reese produced his check and told him, “Take this, and just give me the change.”
Primarily a track and field athlete, Booker Reese (66) didn’t play football until his senior year of high school. Upon arriving in the NFL, he had trouble grasping even the basics—such as the transition to a three-point stance.
Eric Mencher/Tampa Bay Times
Reese found the NFL overwhelming and succumbed to the temptation of alcohol and drugs in Tampa, trying the team’s patience with a drug-related 1984 arrest, and becoming less and less dependable on the field. His entire Tampa Bay tenure spanned 24 games.
Booker Reese’s NFL career ended abruptly in 1985 after a second failed drug test, but his problems worsened over the years. He was convicted of cocaine possession in 1999, and was sent back to prison for a parole violation in 2004. His current whereabouts are unknown.
Bill Serne/Tampa Bay Times
“We thought we were really starting to put something together,” Wood says. “But as we all know, we bungled it up. We bungled the team and just faded away. And it all started with that ’82 draft.”
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