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Gene Frenette: Jacksonville's Gene Deckerhoff loves grind as voice of Bucs, Seminoles

Gene Frenette, The Florida Times-Union on

Published in Football

Over the 33 seasons that Gene Deckerhoff has double-dipped as the play-by-play voice for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Florida State Seminoles, he has grown accustomed to dealing with football highs and lows that come with being so emotionally invested in his job.

Those two extremes are reflected in the respective records of the NFL franchise and FSU during that period — 232-297 (.438) for the Buccaneers and 303-105-1 (.742) for the Seminoles. Only five times with Deckerhoff behind the microphone for both teams has Tampa Bay, despite playing 16-game seasons, actually won more games than FSU in the same year.

"Back in the day, when I started broadcasting two games almost every weekend in 1989, the Bucs weren't very good," said Deckerhoff. "The most frequently asked question I'd get was, 'What's it like to broadcast for a championship-level college team and then on Sunday broadcast for a team that can't win a football game?'"

Suddenly, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. While FSU inexplicably might be headed toward its fourth consecutive losing season, something it hasn't experienced since the mid-1970s, the Bucs have done a 180-degree turn.

Tampa Bay is coming off a season in which it snapped a 12-year playoff drought, stunned the NFL world by winning a Super Bowl with the ageless Tom Brady, and could be primed for another deep playoff run this season.

And on the call for that whole breathtaking Bucs' journey in 2020 was another ageless wonder, the 76-year-old Deckerhoff. A Jacksonville native, he shows even less signs of slowing down than the late FSU coaching legend, Bobby Bowden, did when he was the same age.

 

"I guess all you need is a 44-year-old quarterback and things turn out great," Deckerhoff said of the Bucs' turnaround.

"An NFL scout I knew at the FSU-Georgia Tech game last year told me, in his experience, the older [NFL] quarterbacks start out hot, but then it gets cold late in the season and their game tapers off. But Tom Brady's game didn't do that. He's a different breed of cat."

So, too, is Deckerhoff. The 1963 graduate of Forrest High (now Westside) rode out the COVID-19 pandemic last year without ever getting on a plane.

He broadcasted all FSU games home and away from a television monitor on the ninth level of the main press box at Doak Campbell Stadium, then did something similar for Bucs' games at Raymond James Stadium. But the NFL changed everything around for Super Bowl LV at the same venue.

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