Nearly every year there’s a highly-hyped college golden boy set to change the NFL forever once he’s drafted in April. There is no “if” with this yearly wonderkid, only a “when,” which leads to our inevitable disappointment when they spectacularly fail.
The hype machine begins its spin cycle with these game-changers long before their final year of college. The constant chatter then becomes unbearable once the Super Bowl hangover subsides in early February and we need something to talk about daily that’s even loosely related to football.
What’s unique about Andrew Luck, this year’s phenom, is that his name provides the opportunity for an unimaginative title describing the desire held by both teams (secretly) and their fans (not secretly at all) to sink low enough to hold the No. 1 pick.
Thus the now intolerable references to the ongoing “Suck for Luck” campaigns at the bottom of the league standings are born. Such clever word wizardry hasn’t existed in other recent years because attempts at alliterations or rhymes about Sam Bradford or Reggie Bush just don’t roll off the tongue quite as easy (maybe “Be Brutal for Bradford”? see what I mean…).
But the practice of drilling a bad catchphrase into football culture has existed for quite some time, and 25 years ago basement teams participated in the “Testaverde Tournament.” Drew Fairservice of theScore.com’s Getting Blanked stumbled on a digitally dusty microfiche copy of the Milwaukee Journal from Dec. 15, 1986 that provided the Testaverde Tournament standings heading into the final week of the season.
The top spot stayed the same through the final week, with Tampa Bay playing St. Louis in a crucial Testaverde Tournament showdown and losing 21-17. The situation outlined in the blurb between the Colts and Bucs played out, and Tampa Bay was awarded the No. 1 pick based on the weakness of their schedule.
Testaverde was the Bucs’ quarterback for six seasons, an underwhelming stretch of his career in which he threw 77 touchdowns and 112 interceptions. When fans learned that Vinny’s colorblind they jokingly assumed they had discovered a reason for his wayward throws, with a local radio station producing a billboard with a picture of Testaverde in front of a blue background under the caption “Vinny thinks this is orange!”. Fun times.
Nine picks later the Steelers selected Hall of Fame defensive back Rod Woodson, the only player from that ’86 draft with a replica of his head currently residing in Canton.