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1998: Jan-Mar | Apr-June | July-Sept | Oct-Dec
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10/15/98 -The Storm signed OS William Eckford and FB/LB Steve Lee on Thursday.
11/02/98 - The Tampa Bay Storm lost more players to the Buffalo Destroyers than any other team in the Arena Football League. Besides having traded three players for the third and fourth picks in the expansion draft, the Storm also lost five players in the draft itself. Buffalo's first round selection was Storm WR/DB Wayne Williams. Williams had been in Tampa Bay for five years, and had been seeing more playing time as his experience increased. Buffalo also took a storm player with their second pick --WR/DB Antoine Worthman. Worthman has consistently been one of the Storm's top WR/DBs after only three years. He had an exceptional 1998 season, especially on offense, having caught 13 receptions for 198 yards and two touchdowns.
With their seventh pick, Buffalo drafted Tampa Bay WR/DB Kevin Jackson. A rookie in 1998, he spent the entire season on the Storm's injured reserve list. With the eleventh and twelfth picks, Buffalo grabbed FB/LB Les Barley and K Bjorn Nittmo. Barley is the AFL's all-time leading rusher with 1171 yards on 331 carries. Nittmo set a Storm record for points by a kicker in a season with 123.
On October 25, the Storm traded AFL veterans Jerald Jeffcoat, Tony Jones and Lynn Rowland for the third and fourth picks in the expansion draft. With those picks, the Storm selected DS Alundis Brice and DS Melvin Cunningham. Both players come from the Milwaukee Mustangs.
10/19/98 - The Buffalo Destroyers completed a late-afternoon trade that sent their third and fourth round picks in the upcoming expansion draft to the Tampa Bay Storm for AFL veterans Jerald Jeffcoat, Tony Jones and Lynn Rowland. Jeffcoat is a three-year AFL veteran who did not play during the 1998 season. In addition to playing in the AFL, Jeffcoat has NFL experience as a member of the Buffalo Bills, New York Giants, New York Jets and New Orleans Saints. He also played in the World League (1995-96) for the Scottish Claymores. Jeffcoat (6-1, 290) is the brother of Jim Jeffcoat, assistant defensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys.
Jones, a fullback/linebacker, has played in the AFL since his 1992 rookie year at Cleveland. He spent the 1995-98 sesons with the Storm. He is an outstanding pass rusher from either the defensive line or linebacker position. He has played for Destroyers Head Coach Dave Whinham at Cleveland and Tampa Bay. His offensive career stats include: six receptions for 63 yards and three touchdowns and 91 carries for 267 yards and 18 touchdowns. Defensively he has posted 54 tackles, 14 assists, 6.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and one interception. He is listed at 6-1, 245 and played college ball at Illinois State.
Rowland is an offensive/defensive lineman with six years of AFL experience. In 1998 he led the Storm with 6.5 sacks during the season. He has played Arena Football in Detroit (1992), Las Vegas (1993) and Tampa Bay (1995-98). His career stats follow: 11 receptions for 82 yards and five touchdowns with 24 carries for 41 yards and one touchdown. Defensively he has 61 tackles, 35 assists, 16.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception. He played his college ball at Arkansas State.
"Today's trade brings AFL experience and depth to the Buffalo Destroyers roster. I have worked with these players when I was a member of the Storm coaching staff and I know that their leadership will be invaluable to the team during its' inaugural season," said Whinham.
11/04/98 - Alundis Brice is known as a hard hitting cornerback and was awarded the Chucky Mullins Courage Award at Mississippi. Prior to his senior year, Brice changed his jersey to number 38 to honor the late Rebel who became paralyzed while playing for Ole Miss. Brice was selected in the fourth round by the Dallas Cowboys in 1995. He played 13 games for the Cowboys in 1996 before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in a December 1996 game with the Arizona Cardinals.
During his 1996 season at Marshall, Melvin Cunningham developed his skills by covering All-American wide receiver Randy Moss every day at practice. That season, Cunningham helped the Thundering Herd to a Division I-AA National Championship and 15-0 record. Cunningham is also the school's post-season interception leader with six.
Under the circumstances, head coach/general manager Tim Marcum was pleased. "I think Cunningham can be a solid two-way player," he said. "He was recruited as a running back at Marshall, and can take the place of the two-way guys we lost. And anytime you can get an NFL-caliber corner on your squad, it can only help your ballclub."
Tampa Bay also picked up former Houston ThunderBear lineman Kevin Carroll with the Destroyers' eighth-round pick in the expansion draft. These acquisitions helped soften the loss of a league-high five players via the draft. In addition, the Destroyers already had rights to OL/DL Lynn Rowland, OL/DL Jerald Jeffcoat, and FB/LB Tony Jones. The Destroyers' expansion acquisition of former Storm K Rich Fall from Houston brings the contingent of Storm alumni on Buffalo to nine.
11/12/98 - Less than two weeks after Tampa Bay lost five players in the AFL Expansion Draft, the Storm has signed eight players to their roster, including one former Tampa Bay Buccaneer. The Storm signed one running back Steve Lee (6-1, 265, Indiana), four wide receiver/defensive backs, two offensive/defensive linemen and one quarterback.
Running back Steve Lee was among the final cuts made by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this pre-season, unable to squeeze a roster spot between Mike Allstott and Lorenzo Neal. Lee was picked in the 6th round by the Baltimore Ravens in 1997 and also performed on the practice squads of Green Bay and Jacksonville.
The four wide receiver/defensive backs include Jason Dulick (6-4, 205, Illinois), Chris Perry (6-3, 205, Adams St.), William "Pokey" Eckford (5-8, 175, Weber State) and Derrick Beatty (5-9, 180, Weber State).
Dulick started 42 straight games at Illinois, is second in team history for career receptions and touchdowns and was an Academic All-Big Ten. During his senior year, he caught the attention then ABC Sports commentator/now Rams Head coach Dick Vermeil. "I like this guy. He'll block downfield, he'll cover kickoffs, punts and he'll make the tough catch." A high school player of the year at St. Louis University High, he paired with QB Steve Schnurr for 15 touchdowns his senior year.
Perry was named Division II Athlete of the Year in 1995 by College Sports Magazine. During his senior year at Adams State in Alamosa, CO, Perry led the nation in receiving yards per game (171.9), averaged 13 points and nearly nine catches a game. His 21 receiving touchdowns in a season is a D-II record.
Weber State teammates Eckford and Beatty are know as speeders. Both have been timed under 4.4 in the 40 and were named All-Big Sky. Eckford participated in that Atlanta Falcons mini-camp in 1996 and was also on the Iowa Barnstormers roster in 1997. Beatty is a three year pro of the CFL, playing with Edmonton and Birmingham.
Another pair of teammates include Andre Hewitt (6-6, 300, Clemson) and Brett Williams (6-3, 270, Clemson). Hewitt is a two year NFL-Europe pro with the Scottish Claymores and Amsterdam Admirals and was a 7th round pick by Cleveland in 1994. Williams is a free agent selection of the Dallas Cowboys in 1997 and also played practice squad for the Seattle Seahawks.
Quarterback Jay McDonagh (6-2, 200, Western Michigan) holds the Broncos all-time passing percentage record (.593). Recruited by Iowa State as a defensive back, McDonagh could prove to be a valuable two-way player. There's no doubt he enjoys hitting, the Chicago native holds a Golden Gloves middle-weight championship during his sophomore year in high school.
Head Coach/General Manager Tim Marcum believes the recent signings will help fill the void created when the Buffalo Destroyers selected five players in the AFL Expansion Draft earlier this month. "And we're not necessarily finished yet. We are looking at a few more solid ball players that could really have the fans stand up and take notice. But with these signees, I see a solid group of players that are capable of blending with our nucleus and challenging for another ArenaBall championship."
AFL teams are allowed to hold 40 players during the off-season. The Storm currently has 35 players on their roster.
11/13/98 - One Tampa Bay Storm player and two former players made the final cut for the making of the movie On Any Given Sunday, starring Al Pacino. Action figures Nyle Wiren and former Storm FB/LB Les Barley found out Thursday they will be part of the 45 football player extras needed for movie. Shooting will take place next week in the Miami area.
Last week, roughly 200 football players responded to a national cattle call outside of Miami for pro football players. Film producers conducted personal interviews and combine workouts.
Wiren said, "They had folks walking around the place, looking over everyone. They'd point and say, 'You're gone...gone...,' it was cut throat."
Wiren lives in Tampa. Barley, the AFL's all-time leading rusher, resides in North Carolina and was recently drafted by the Buffalo Destroyers in the AFL Expansion Draft.
Production is scheduled for next Monday and players will be filming until April 1st. Both do not intend to leave their day jobs just yet. Arena Football pre-season camps begin the first week in April.
Former Storm quarterback and current Orlando Predator Connell Maynor also made the cut. Several Predator players were also selected including quarterback Pat O'Hara, offensive specialist Robert Gordon, defensive specialist Chris Barber and offensive/defensive lineman Connell Spain.
11/20/98 - Today the Tampa Bay Storm signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneer standout wide-receiver Charles Wilson (5-10, 185, Memphis State). Wilson was Green Bay's 5th round pick in 1990 and played two seasons for the Packers. The seven year NFL pro most recently played for the New York Jets in 1995 and '96.
As a Buccaneer, Wilson was one of the NFL's top ten receivers in 1994, started seven games, caught 31 passes for 652 yards (21.0 yards average), and led the team with six touchdowns. He also averaged 25.1 yards on 10 kickoff returns.
During his 1995 season with the Jets, Wilson caught 41 passes for 484 yards and four touchdowns. Player Personnel Coach Ron Selesky said, "Wilson is fast, and a quality NFL receiver who gives us another legitimate deep threat."
Wilson, who resides in Tallahassee, is the second former Buccaneer signed by the Storm during the off-season. Recently, running back Steve Lee (6-1, 265, Indiana) also signed with the Storm. Lee was among the final cuts made by the Buccaneers this pre-season.
Off-season Arena Football team rosters are allowed up to 40 players. The current Storm roster stands at 33 players.
11/24/98 - Today the Tampa Bay Storm released their 1999 football schedule. This year's schedule includes one bye week, and the regular season will begin one week earlier than last year. The Storm opens the regular season when they host the Albany Firebirds, Saturday, April 24, 7:30 pm at the Ice Palace.
The 16-game schedule includes two pre-season games. Tampa Bay hosts the Orlando Predators, Saturday, April 10, 7:30 pm at the Ice Palace in a re-match of last year's ArenaBowl XII championship game. The Storm will then face the Florida Bobcats to christen the new National Car Rental Center, home to the Bobcats and NHL's Florida Panthers.
During the regular season, the Storm plays Southern Division opponents Orlando, Florida, and Nashville twice. For the first time in two years, Tampa Bay will face the 1997 ArenaBowl champion Arizona Rattlers. The Storm host Arizona Saturday, June 19, 7:30 pm, at the Ice Palace.
Other games of note include Tampa Bay traveling the first weekend in July to western New York state and play the expansion Buffalo Destroyers. Destroyers Head Coach Dave Whinham served under Storm Head Coach Tim Marcum both at Tampa Bay and with the Detroit Drive.
Season tickets start at $59.99 and are available now by calling the Tampa Bay Storm front office at 813-276-7300.
All dates, times and opponents are subject to change because of availability of each home arena and league approval.
12/02/98 - The Tampa Bay Storm signed two year pro FB/LB Alan Campos (6-3, 245, Louisville). Campos was one of the top rated linebackers entering the 1996 NFL Draft and was a fifth round selection of the Dallas Cowboys. Campos saw action in all but one of the Cowboys 16 regular season games registering nine special teams tackles for the Cowboys as a rookie.
That season, he was also teammates with WR/DB Alundis Brice (5-10, 150, Mississippi), who also signed with the Storm this off-season.
Most recently he played for the Scottish Claymores in 1997 and was rated among the top linebackers in the NFLE.
As a senior starter at strongside linebacker in 1995 for the University of Louisville, Campos ranked second on the team in tackles with 97 stops (55 solos). He also deflected nine passes, recovered one fumble and caught three interceptions (one of which was returned for a TD).
Player Personnel Coach Ron Selesky said, "Alan is a very versatile player who can play FB/LB and also rush from a down lineman position. He brings us excellent speed and good size along with a proven track record."
Campos graduated from Palmetto High School in Miami and now lives in Louisville.
12/04/98 - The Tampa Bay Storm signed two players, former Detroit Lions cornerback Jocelyn Borgella (5-10, 180, Cincinnati) and former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Harold Gragg (6-4, 275, Wake Forest).
Borgella was a fifth round draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 1994. He played three seasons at Detroit. He also played with the Cincinnati Bengals in 1997 and the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe in 1998.
During 1996 with Detroit, Borgella played in eleven games. As a back-up cornerback, he saw most of his action on special teams, tallying one forced fumble and one onside kick recovery.
Borgella is the University of Cincinnati's all-time single season interception leader with twelve. He started every game during his junior and senior years and 10 of 11 contests as a sophomore.
The first player of Haitian decent to make an NFL roster, Borgella will now attempt to hold that same distinction in the AFL.
OL/DL Harold Gragg made the regular season roster with the Dallas Cowboys this season, but was released in Week 1 as a part of roster moves at other positions. Gragg's other NFL experience includes the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad in 1997 and the New York Giants training camp in 1996. He also was a starting defensive end with the Frankfurt Galaxy this year.
At Wake, Gragg served as the team's captain during his senior season.
12/12/98 - Current Tampa Bay Storm quarterback and Florida State alumnus Peter Tom Willis just learned this week he will be part of the FSU Football Radio Network team that will broadcast the Fiesta Bowl's national championship game between second-ranked Florida State and #1 Tennessee on January 4, 1999.
Willis wrapped up his first season as color commentator on the Florida State Radio Network, working with Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Orlando Predators play- by-play man Gene Deckerhoff on Seminole radio broadcasts. After last week's losses by Kansas State and UCLA, the Seminoles were in the championship game, thrusting Willis and Deckerhoff into a privileged position.
"When there were three games remaining in the season, I thought we had a good chance to make it [into the title game]," Willis said. "But with one week left, I didn't think we'd make it. To tell you the truth, we got a little lucky."
The Seminoles would love for the P.T./Fiesta Bowl combo to end up the same way it did on New Year's Day of 1990. That afternoon, Willis led the Seminoles to a 41-17 Fiesta Bowl win over Nebraska, throwing for 422 yards and five touchdowns.
Willis said, "That season we lost our first two games and then went undefeated. We were playing better than anyone else in the country. We wanted to show everyone that we were the best team in the country." The Seminoles finished that season #2 in the UPI (coaches) poll and and #3 according to the AP poll. That year, Willis threw for 3,124 yards, the second-highest mark in school history.
Asked if the Seminoles would win their second national title and their first since 1993 this January, Willis had just two words, "Oh, yeah."
12/23/98 - The Cleveland Browns, set to take the field for their first game in four years in 1999, will be certain to stock up on locker room air freshener, now that they have signed the occasionally malodorous Storm WR/DB Corey Dowden as one of their first six players.
Dowden, who has NFL experience with the Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, played for the Storm in 1992, 1993, 1995 and for the last game of the regular season and the 1998 playoffs. He started all four games he played in for the Storm on defense. However, the most significant line on Dowden's resume might have been a stint in training camp with the San Francisco 49ers last year. While there, current Browns general manager and former 49er receiver and executive Dwight Clark got a keen look at him, which probably helped him land this Cleveland gig.
The Browns were permitted to sign ten free agents to begin filling their roster. A similar process in 1994 helped the expansion Carolina Panthers acquire solid NFL players such as WR Willie Green and C Matt Elliott, both of whom became regular starters for Carolina during their 1996 run to the NFC Championship game.
"Corey's a quality football player, and I'm happy to see him breaking back into the NFL," head coach and general manager Tim Marcum said. "But that means we miss out on having him in our defensive backfield."
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