1999 Results | Game Coverage

Bobcats   at   Storm
(1-2) (1-1)

Who: Florida Bobcats at Tampa Bay Storm
When: Saturday, May 15, 1999, 7:40 p.m. EDT
Where: Ice Palace, Tampa, Fla.
TV Coverage: Sunshine Network (live), Time Warner Communications Tampa Bay (tape delay---9:00 p.m. Sunday)
Radio Coverage: WINZ-AM 940 (Miami-Ft. Lauderdale); WDAE-AM 1250 (Tampa-St. Petersburg).

One to Watch...

Pig Goff
Lineman Robert "Pig" Goff, shown here lining up against Albany's Mark Valvo on April 24, posted two sacks and forced a Todd Hammel fumble in the Week Two win at Milwaukee.

Kicking Off...

Tampa Bay begins the first of three consecutive Southern Division games by hosting the Bobcats. The Storm enters the game well-rested thanks to the combination of a bye week last weekend and a Thursday night game at Milwaukee the week before, giving the team 15 full days away from competitive football. There is no such rest for the weary Bobcats, however. After having played in a made-for-ESPN2 Monday night game at Nashville, Florida will enter the Ice Palace with just four full days of rest.

The Coaches...

Florida - Bruce Hardy, 1-2 in his first season with the Bobcats, 1-2 in one AFL season.

Tampa Bay - Tim Marcum, 52-15 in his fifth season with the Storm, 107-27 in ten AFL seasons.

In 1999...

Florida (1-2) - Lost to New England 45-43, defeated San Jose 78-48, lost to Nashville 63-42.

Tampa Bay (1-1) - Lost to Albany 49-42, defeated Milwaukee 49-42.

Bobcats to Watch...

OS Curtis Ceaser - Since joining the Bobcats last season as an AFL rookie, he has been as invigorating as a caffeine I.V., becoming the team's most dynamic offensive threat. He set Bobcat records for touchdowns (24) and points (146) in 1998, and is on an even better pace this season, having scored eight touchdowns in the team's first three games, including four on nine catches Monday night in Nashville. At the moment, he stands as Florida's leader in receptions (21), receiving yardage (354) and touchdowns (eight), helping to offset the loss of Cleveland Pratt to injury in Week One. In his only game against the Storm last season, in Week 11, he caught seven passes for 71 yards and a score, proving to be one of the few bright spots for the Bobcats in an otherwise desultory 59-18 loss.

Of course, there's also the matter of his surname. When the Bobcats came to Tampa last year, three different team officials gave me three different spellings. This confusion continues to reign, as during ESPN2's telecast of the Bobcats' game Monday, the graphics read "Ceaser" while the name on the back of his jersey displayed "CEASAR." All of the Bobcats' publicity materials refer to the Grambling grad as "Ceaser," so, for the moment, that's what we're going to go with.

FB/LB Michael McClenton - One of the league's most consistently effective fullback/linebackers, he nearly won the teams' preseason tussle on April 16, appearing to have scored on a three-yard sweep to the left side. However, the officials ruled that he stepped on the sideline at the one-yard-line, much to the chagrin of the Florida coaches, teammates and fans at the National Car Rental Center. Replays showed that McClenton appeared to go over the pylon before being knocked out of bounds by Les Barley, but the play stood, and the Storm escaped with a 1-1 preseason ledger. He currently ranks third in the league with 57 rushing yards on 17 carries, for a healthy 3.4 yard-per-carry average, and has scored five touchdowns in the first three weeks.

In spite of his success, he is becoming the epitome of the Arenaball journeyman. The Bobcats are his third team and fourth city in the last two years; he spent the 1998 season with the New York CityHawks, who moved to Hartford, Conn. to become the New England Sea Wolves before trading McClenton's rights to the Bobcats. Prior to his Gotham sojourn, McClenton broke into the league with the Orlando Predators, spending two seasons there as the team's secondary FB/LB behind the since-retired Paul McGowan. McClenton has quietly worked his way up the AFL rushing ledger. In just over three seasons, he has amassed 556 rushing yards on 152 carries, for a solid 3.7 yards-per-carry average. Against the Storm, he has participated in four games, averaging 17 yards per game. His best night against Tampa Bay came on May 17, 1997 at the Ice Palace, during the Predators' 43-17 win over the Storm; McClenton gained 30 yards on five carries that night.

Fred McNair
Bobcat QB Fred McNair goes back to pass during last year's meeting at the Ice Palace. Photo by Chris Arnold.
QB Fred McNair - Purportedly, the older brother of Tennesee Oilers QB Steve McNair was the first "Air McNair," leaving the more widely-known little brother to be more accurately nicknamed as "Air II." However, the Bobcats' McNair has carved out a solid niche in pro football in his own right, shepherding the wandering Bobcats through a great deal of adversity---both for the team and for himself---in the last three years. The Bobcats' peripatetic ways have been well-chronicled on this site, but McNair's struggles have not. In his first season with the Bobcats, McNair kept the team competitive, and led them to a 5-8 record through thirteen games and the lead in the team's final game, at St. Louis. However, it was in that game when he suffered a severe knee injury, one which kept him out in 1997 and threw his football future into doubt.

1998, though, saw his return, and in spite of Florida's lack of success, he is now firmly entrenched as one of the league's most productive signal-callers, and one of its best team leaders. McNair has thrown 120 touchdown passes since 1996 and thrown for 6,806 yards, and currently finds himself ranked fourth in the league in passer rating for the young 1999 season at 115.7.

Noting the Bobcats...

Didn't I See You at Spago? - Much has been made of the Storm's Hollywood jet-setters who worked as extras on the set of Oliver Stone's pigskin opus, On Any Given Sunday. FB/LB Les Barley, linemen Nyle Wiren and Robert "Pig" Goff, DS Tracy Sanders and former kicker Bjorn Nittmo all saw screen time. However, the Bobcats also had five players of their own on the set---linemen Eric Miller, Skip McClendon, Marty Hochertz, Rob Stanavitch and defensive specialist Otis Mounds.

Trading Places - The Bobcats made two trades this week, sending FB/LB George Del Ricco to Portland for lineman Howard Smothers and shipping WR/DB Kerry Brown to New England for fellow WR/DB Mandrell Dean. Smothers is an old foe of the Storm; he was a member of the Predators during their march to the championship last season.

Bobcat Bites - Florida ranks near the middle of the league in nearly all statistical categories. The only category in which they rank either at the top or bottom is in rushing defense, where the 'Cats have allowed a league-high 39.7 yards per game...12 of the Bobcats' 23 scoring drives in 1999 have taken less than 99 seconds (1:39)...Florida has lost eight out of nine Southern Division road games in franchise history, with the lone win coming at Texas by a 48-34 count in 1996; the franchise also lost two other division games when it was known as the Miami Hooters in 1995.

Noting the Storm...

Wiren and Dulick activated - Following a full-speed week of practice, FB/LB/OL/DL Nyle Wiren and WR/LB Jason Dulick have been placed on the active roster. To get down to the 24-man limit, the Storm had to remove only one player from the active roster (it had been carrying 23), and the odd man out is rookie DS Carl Greenwood, a former New York Jet who had been deactivated in the Storm's first two games.

Stat Corner - Although the Storm's offense is averaging a robust 319 yards per game, good for third in the league, it has scored just 45.5 points per outing, putting it third---from the bottom...Nearly the reverse is true on the defensive side of the football, where the Storm is giving up 45.5 points per game---good for third best in the league---but is allowing 325 yards per contest, a figure that only the 0-3 Houston ThunderBears are exceeding; the T-Bears have yielded 330 yards per game...The Storm's defense is the second- worst in the league, allowing 35 yards per outing. However, the Bobcats are worse, giving up 39.7 yards per game on the ground...The Storm is the only AFL team to have not made a field goal; K Matt Huerkamp is 0-for-2...However, Huerkamp is one of three league kickers to have hit all of his extra points since starting the season; New England's Mike Black and San Jose's Carlos Huerta are the others...Lineman Robert "Pig" Goff and FB/LB Andre Bowden are tied for second in the league in sacks with two each.

Highs and Lows - WR/LB Stevie Thomas' 37-yard interception return at Milwaukee on April 29 is the second-longest in the AFL this season. It would only be the third-longest, though, if the Mustang statisticians had accurately spotted Thomas at the Storm's 16-yard-line when he made the pick---thus making it just 34 yards in reality...The Storm's five sacks of Milwaukee QB Todd Hammel in that same game are the most by any one team in a game so far this year.

Series History...

In their current incarnation as the Florida Bobcats, these clubs have met six times, twice in 1996, 1997 and 1998, with Tampa Bay holding a 6-0 edge. The Storm also won the teams' lone preseason encounter last spring at the Ice Palace. But the history of the Bobcats franchise goes back further than 1996. From 1993 to 1995, they were the Miami Hooters, and they faced the Storm five times, with Tampa Bay winning each one. In 1992, they were the Sacramento Attack, and they did not meet the Storm. Prior to that, they were the Denver Dynamite, and they met the Storm three times in Tampa Bay's inaugural season of 1991---twice in the regular season and once in the playoffs. The teams spilt the regular meetings, and the Storm throttled the Dynamite 40-13 in a playoff game at the then-Florida Suncoast Dome.

  • 07/13/91 - Tampa Bay 30, Denver 13 - Highlights: A then-AFL record crowd of 24,445 witnesses the lowest-scoring first half in league history as Denver crawls to a 3-0 advantage at the break; Storm limits Denver quarterback Mike Hold to ten completions in 28 attempts.

  • 07/19/91 - Denver 51, Tampa Bay 34 - Highlights: Denver scores 27 consecutive points in the second half to take a 48-27 lead; Denver controls the ball for 37:48.

  • 08/09/91 - Tampa Bay 40, Denver 13 - Highlights: Storm scores the first 28 points; Lynn Bradford rushes for 37 yards and three touchdowns; Stevie Thomas catches seven passes for 127 yards and three touchdowns. Box Score

  • 05/31/93 - Tampa Bay 29, Miami 22 - Highlight: Game scheduled for May 28, but postponed to Memorial Day evening because of riots near the Miami Arena; Storm forced to take five-hour bus ride back to St. Petersburg, then get on another bus on Monday night to go back to Miami to finally play the game.

  • 07/17/93 - Tampa Bay 65, Miami 46 - Highlight: Lethargic Storm cranks up fans by changing uniforms at halftime from the new black-and-silver ones into the old Zubaz-striped togs; second half delayed by at least five minutes as the Storm players hurriedly change outfits.

  • 06/25/94 - Tampa Bay 47, Miami 32 - Highlight: Storm wins third in a row after 0-2 start; Storm outscores Miami 28-3 in second and part of third quarters to turn a 14-7 deficit into a 35-17 lead; Storm's 108 rushing yards second-best in team history.

  • 05/13/95 - Tampa Bay 58, Miami 43 - Highlights: Storm scores on two safeties, a fumble return and two offensive touchdowns to grab a 25-0 lead after the first quarter; Ivan Caesar debuts at fullback and gains 54 yards on just six carries. Box Score

  • 06/10/95 - Tampa Bay 54, Miami 7 - Highlights: Storm dominates from start, taking a 37-0 lead into the locker room; seven points are fewest ever allowed by Tampa Bay; Hooters finally score with one minute remaining to avert what would have been just the second shutout in Arena Football history. After the Hooters score, the Storm runs out the clock, causing fans to boo the team off the field. This was because fans got a coupon for a free cruise on Empress Cruise Lines if the Storm could score 60 points. Box Score

  • 06/08/96 - Tampa Bay 55, Florida 47 - Highlights: Bobcats stun Storm by jumping out to leads of 19-7 and 26-14 in the first half; Tampa Bay grabs lead of 28-26 late in first half and never relinquishes it; Jay Gruden passes for 290 yards and six touchdowns; LaFrance and Thomas combine for 16 catches for 210 yards and four touchdowns. Box Score

  • 07/06/96 - Tampa Bay 39, Florida 36 - Highlights: Jorge Cimadevilla's 47-yard field goal as time expires wins it; Storm's team bus doesn't arrive until just 40 minutes before kickoff; Tampa Bay carries 12-point lead into fourth quarter before furious Bobcat rally ties the score. Box Score

  • 05/10/97 - Tampa Bay 38, Florida 19 - Highlights: Storm makes its Ice Palace debut and cruises thanks to an 11-catch, 145-yard performance by WR/LB Stevie Thomas. Game Coverage

  • 07/26/97 - Tampa Bay 48, Florida 22 - Highlights: Storm wins as FB/LB Andre Bowden scores a Storm-record tying four rushing touchdowns and DS Tracey Perkins makes his Arena Football-record breaking 12th interception of the season. Game Coverage

  • 05/23/98 - Tampa Bay 44, Florida 29 - Highlights: LaFrance goes over 500-catch mark and 1,000-point total for his career on consecutive second quarter plays; LaFrance's 54-yard missed field goal return on untimed down at end of first half boosts Storm's lead to insurmountable 38-15 edge. Game Coverage

  • 07/12/98 - Tampa Bay 59, Florida 18 - Highlights: Storm overcomes sluggish start in front of a national television audience watching on ESPN; Johnnie Harris tossed from game in third quarter for shoving an official; Storm allows a franchise-low 143 total yards. Game Coverage

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