Mile High Minute: FU Tampa Bay Edition

The Broncos agreed to trade Jake Plummer to Tampa Bay Friday, but Jake the Snake wants no part of it. Instead of accepting banishment to Tampa Bay where he would have had to compete for the starting job with that kid who would be delivering pizzas if his last name wasn’t Simms, Jake called it a career with a message on his website.

So ends the up and down career of Plummer, who for years has been my favorite player. He wasn’t always the best, or frankly even that good from time to time, but god damn it, he had character and was a constant threat to make the 4th quarter of even an Arizona Cardinals game interesting.

I was a Plummer fan going back to his days as a Sun Devil. He put up good numbers at ASU and nearly led the Sun Devils to national title in 1996-97. In the Rose Bowl against Ohio State, he drove the No. 2 ranked Sun Devils down the field to take a 17-14 lead with only 90 seconds remaining in the game. The Buckeyes didn’t waste that time though, and quickly took back the lead 20-14 and won the game.

Plummer was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals that year, which in the pre-Pink Taco Stadium days meant he would play his pro ball in the same stadium he played his college ball. He took over as the starter in 1998 and led the team to its first playoff appearance since 1982 and first playoff victory in 51 years. The rest of his tenure with the Cardinals was a mixed bag, but then again, who succeeds on the Cardinals?

In 2003, he signed with the Denver Broncos. With actual talent and a good offensive coaching staff around him, Plummer had the best years of his career. In 2004, he broke John Elway’s franchise record for most passing yards and tied his record for most touchdown passes. Also that year, he was fined by the NFL for refusing to remove the number 40 from his helmet in honor of his friend Pat Tilman who left the NFL to serve in Afghanistan.

In 2005, Plummer quit shaving or cutting his hair (again apparently to honor the fallen Tilman), and led the Broncos to the AFC championship game where they lost to the Steelers. The less said about 2006 the better, but he leaves the Broncos with a record of 40-13 as a starter – tough to beat.

So, goodbye Jake. I can’t say I blame you. Unless you like mosquito bites and trailer trash, there isn’t much in Tampa. Thanks for the decade of fun football.

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