Gene Deckerhoff has called Tampa Bay Buccaneers games on radio since 1989.
Using his deep and easily excitable voice, he has mastered the ability to vividly describe situations and circumstances in incredible detail, to the point where listeners feel as if they're watching the game on television or in person.
Oh, and no one can make a five-yard run as exciting as him, I might add.
But above all, you would never know whether the Bucs were up by 10 or trailing by 14 by the frenzied speech and genuine elation which he maintains throughout games.
And that is perhaps his best attribute—keeping fans interested and tuned in.
Especially of late.
In all, "The Voice" has announced 473 Bucs games and on 697 occasions, has declared "Touchdown, Tampa Bay!"
For many, Deckerhoff is as synonymous with the organization as any player during the same span.
Now it's up to the organization to immortalize the great Gene Deckerhoff by making him their next choice for the Ring of Honor.
After all, he has already been inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame and Florida State University Athletics Hall of Fame. So if both the state and FSU are cognizant of his achievements and acknowledge his place in their histories, why shouldn't the Bucs follow suit?
Think about it. The four people the Bucs have already chosen for the honor each represent a different decade of their existence.
Lee Roy Selmon and John McKay for the 70's, Jimmy Giles for the 80's and Paul Gruber for the 90's.
Why not choose someone who, like Gruber, bridged the era from league laughingstock to perennial playoff contender? Why not choose someone who introduced many—myself included—to the game of football? Why not choose someone who is renowned for his colorful and always-entertaining play-by-play?
Why not choose Deckerhoff?
Yes, I know there are very deserving players in line. Guys like James Wilder and Doug Williams. Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott, too.
Personally, all it takes is listening to his soundbites to literally feel the excitement emanating through the speakers.
My fear is, however, that most fans won't truly appreciate how special his talents are until it's too late. Until someone not named Deckerhoff is calling Bucs games and we begin yearning for the days of "Fire the Cannons!" again.
So why wait to honor his talents?
At the very least, consider this: Why not deviate from the norm and induct two at one time? One player and Deckerhoff—that would be the best of both worlds, right?
Doing so would not only recognize the selected player for their success and give them their moment of post-playing glory, but would also allow the Bucs—and the fans—to salute Deckerhoff for his unique and indelible role with the organization.
Because when you think of it, "The Voice" already has a permanent place in our hearts and minds.
All that's missing is a permanent place to commemorate his name.
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