Four days before the biggest game of his life, quarterback Brad Johnson broke an NFL rule to help the Bucs win Super Bowl XXXVII.
At 34, Johnson had developed a few compulsions during his career. He changed his socks and shoes every quarter, and over the course of a game he replaced everything but his pants. Johnson always sweated profusely, and he liked the clean, dry feeling.
This was particularly true when it came to footballs. He had trouble gripping a wet football, a cold football or a new, out-of-the-box football.
It had been enough of a problem during the NFC title game in Philadelphia the week before — where it was 26 degrees at kickoff — that he was forced to wear a glove.
"I wouldn't have been able to play without it," he said.
At the Super Bowl, the NFL had 100 footballs. They were new, slick and supposedly under the league's watchful eye. But not leaving anything to chance, Johnson made sure the balls were scuffed and ready well before the Dixie Chicks sang the national anthem.
"I paid some guys off to get the balls right," Johnson now admits. "I went and got all 100 footballs, and they took care of all of them."
How much did it cost Johnson? "Seventy-five hundred (dollars)," he said.
"They took care of them."
Johnson made the revelation several years ago, proir to the 10-year reunion of the Bucs' Super Bowl champion team.