Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dilfer Defies Critics Former Bucs Castaway Returns to Tampa for Ring

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dilfer Defies Critics Former Bucs Castaway Returns to Tampa for Ring

Article excerpt

OAKLAND, Calif. -- His team has won 10 games in a row. None of them pretty. Trent Dilfer does not do pretty.

"I have no problems at all saying that my teammates carried me. They carried me. They carried me!

"Hey, we're a team," Dilfer said. "And we're going to the Super Bowl as a team."

For Dilfer, at least, the trip will not be nearly as simple as it sounds. There isn't an airline in business willing to haul even half his baggage back there.

When Dilfer left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year, fans would have climbed over each other to drive him to the airport. Now imagine how those people will feel a week from now, when the quarterback who left in disgrace rolls back into town manning the controls of the Super Bowl-contending Baltimore Ravens.

That's practically a tradition with the Bucs. The same franchise dumped Doug Williams, Steve Young and Chris Chandler, only to watch all three quarterbacks reach the Super Bowl with somebody else. Someone asked Dilfer last what going back to Tampa would be like.

"Ironic," he said.

Sunday, after Baltimore punched Dilfer's ticket with a 16-3 AFC Championship win over the Raiders, he said a little more.

"Obviously, I'm excited. I think the greatest lesson I've learned in life is you can't go running from adversity. You have to let it hit you straight in the face. I'm very thankful for my six years in Tampa. I would not trade one experience I had there because it made me the man you see today."

That's a constant with Dilfer. He cries -- the way he did along the sideline in the waning moments Sunday -- only rarely. But Dilfer never gloats. Get booed enough, have enough failures shoved in your face the way he has and payback doesn't seem that important.

Dilfer was called a first-round bust and blamed for getting his first coach, Sam Wyche, fired in Tampa. He made the Pro Bowl one season, then lost the starting job to Eric Zeier. When the Bucs decided to stake their future on Shaun King, they shipped Dilfer to Baltimore. …

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