- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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The year was 1982, long before cell phones and the widespread use of computers. Heck, even landlines weren’t all that dependable --- as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers found out.
As a reward for all his hard work during the year, the Bucs sent equipment manager Pat Marcuccillo to New York as their representative. It’s a pretty easy gig in theory -- listen to what you hear on the other end of the phone, fill out the card and hand it in.
The Bucs would have been better off sending Marcuccillo to an isolated island. In what prompted one of the most bizarre draft stories ever, the phone in New York started cutting in and out and Marcuccillo could hear only a part of what personnel director Ken Herock was instructing.
Herock told Marcuccillo to write down "defensive end Booker Reese." Herock also said to write down "guard Sean Farrell" because the Bucs were debating between the two. Problem was Marcuccillo never heard the first part of the instructions.
The Bucs were a little worried about possible difficulties in signing Farrell, and a quick conversation on the other line with his agent backed up their doubts. The clock was ticking down and Herock got back on the line to New York .
His message was to select Reese. But, again, the line wasn’t functioning right and Marcuccillo never heard that part. He was getting a little nervous and he asked if he should turn in the card he had written out. In perhaps the only part of the conversation that wasn’t ruined by the phone line, Herock answered that question and Marcuccillo turned in the card -- with Farrell’s name.
Back in Tampa , the Bucs’ brass freaked out. They so desperately wanted to correct their mistake that they quickly worked a trade with Chicago. The Bucs traded away their 1983 first-round pick to move up to the early second round where they selected Reese.
As it turned out, the Bucs should have just been happy to get Farrell. Reese spent two disastrous seasons with the Bucs before they traded him away for a 12th-round draft pick. Reese also earned infamy when he got his first check, a very big one. He took it to a Tampa auto dealer and selected a car. When it came time to pay for it, he handed the salesman the check. There was a big difference between the amount of the check and the price of the car (we're talking thousands of dollars) and the salesman asked Reese how he wanted to complete the transaction. Reese reportedly said, "Just give me the change'', which would have added up to about five more cars. After that, the Bucs started paying a little more attention to Wonderlic test scores.