Packers' Buckley says Night Train's record will topple

August 10, 1993|By Rick Gosselin | Rick Gosselin,Dallas Morning News

Cornerback Terrell Buckley bolted Florida State after his junior year to embark on a pro football career. He obviously left school before he could take any history lessons.

Buckley set a Florida State record with 12 interceptions in a single season and thinks he can top that as a pro. After all, NFL teams play more games than college teams.

"The numbers 15 to 20 keep coming up in my mind," said Buckley, Green Bay's No. 1 draft pick in 1992. "I don't know why. One of these years. . . . Maybe not this year, but one of these years."

Buckley was asked if he had ever heard of Dick Lane.

"Sounds familiar," Buckley said.

How about Dick "Night Train" Lane?

"The only 'Night Train' I know is on 'Soul Train,' " Buckley said.

Buckley was informed that Dick "Night Train" Lane holds the NFL record for most interceptions in an NFL season, with 14.

"That's coming down," said Buckley, matter of factly.

But Lane's record has stood up for 40 years, he was told.

"Terrell Buckley hasn't been in the league for 40 years," he said. "That Florida State record stood for a while, too."

The conversation shifted back to Lane, a Hall of Fame cornerback. He intercepted those 14 passes in his rookie year with the Los Angeles Rams in 1952. Not since Lester Hayes intercepted 13 passes in 1980 has anyone ever chased Lane's mark in December of a season.

"Dick 'Night Train' Lane," Buckley said. "I'm going to write that name down. I might write him a letter, tell him I'm sorry, but I've got to do it."

Buckley has been an interception machine in his football career. He picked off 30 passes in high school and returned seven for touchdowns. Then he intercepted 21 at Florida State and returned four for scores. He left college as the best defensive back in the land, having won the Jim Thorpe Award in his junior year.

But his rookie NFL season was a humbling experience for Buckley. He didn't intercept a pass until December and wound up with just three. He dropped four more.

Those weren't the only balls he dropped. Buckley was a spectacular college punt returner with a 12.2-yard career average and three touchdowns. But he washed out as a pro, fumbling seven punts before the Packers yanked him off the return team midway through the season.

Buckley won All-America mention in each of his three college seasons but couldn't make all-rookie in his first crack at pro ball. He was even booed at home. About the only thing that didn't take a beating last year was Buckley's confidence. He expects to be in the Pro Bowl next February.

"I'd be very surprised, shocked and hurt if I don't [go]," Buckley said. "But I'm not going to leave it to chance. I'm going to put those stats up there."

Forget about his stats last year, Buckley says. He got a late start because of a contract holdout and needed a year to figure out the ways of the NFL. He's older and wiser now and expects his play to reflect that.

"Every year, I should have between 8 and 12 interceptions," Buckley said. "If I have a bad year, eight, a good year 10 and a great year. . .15 or 20."

Buckley is reminded that the NFL isn't college, that the East Carolinas or Wake Forests are no longer on the schedule. That's all the more reason that his stats should be better in the NFL, he maintains.

"I still say this league is easier than college," Buckley said. "Everything is so detailed here. If the coaches say throw an out, they want you to throw an out. They don't want you to pump it and throw it deep. In college, they improvise [on offense] more, so you really have to be on your toes [on defense]."

Few talk as good a game as Buckley. Now it's time for him to start playing it.

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