The National Football League, in a highly unusual move, has vacated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, due to, according to league officials, the Bucs usage of ineligible players in their lineup. That controversial lineup, the complaint contends, caused the visiting 2-12 Buccaneers to achieve an "illegal, improper and highly improbable" victory over the 13-1 Saints.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, Buccaneer owner, Malcolm Glazer, admitted to replacing his entire player roster with members of the Manatee High School Hurricane football team, who had just recently lost the state title game to Plant City. Glazer indicated that he would have tried to get the Plant City squad to substitute for the Buccaneers, but feared that such an extreme jump in the caliber of play would give away his plan, opting instead for a lesser-quality team that would be just a little better than the professional players.
"To my dismay," the report quotes Glazer, "the Hurricane players competed with a level of intensity and athleticism great enough to defeat the New Orleans Saints. I had hoped only to field a team that would not be embarrass our organization as we were in our previous game with the Saints, which we lost some weeks earlier in Tampa by a score of 38-7."
"I take full responsibility for this act of chicanery. Coach Raheem Morris, as I had expected, was so caught up in the fact that he had a team that was, for a change, competitive with the opposition that he failed to notice different players wearing the familiar jerseys. Our regular players were told that a rare December hurricane had hit New Orleans, forcing the cancellation of Sunday's game. Once again as I had expected, not one of our players questioned that statement".
The plan began to unravel Sunday evening when several of the high school substitutes went missing in New Orleans and were not on the flight home to Tampa, causing their parents to demand to know their whereabouts. Glazer had previously told Manatee parents that he was treating the boys to an all-expense paid trip to watch the Bucs play in the Big Easy as a reward for their stellar season this year, but had to own up to the true details when it was learned that the missing boys had been arrested by New Orleans authorities for causing a disturbance at a strip club in the French Quarter.
The boys have since been bailed out and have returned to Bradenton where they are in the custody of their parents.
Parents of some of the Manatee footballers have been trying to learn what kind of financial remuneration, if any, their sons received for the stunt and have contacted the NCAA to determine if being paid to play football would jeopardize their eligibility to play college ball. NCAA officials were quoted as saying, "We're not sure we understand the question...."
"You guys want to go check out some boobies on Bourbon Street when we're done here today?"