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Top 10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers in NFL History
They went from losing their first 26 games, to establishing one of the league's best defenses. Today I rank the top 10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers of all time.
Tampa Bay got an expansion franchise in 1976 and it took the team almost two seasons to get its first win. They had mild success in the late 70's but didn't become true contenders until the late 90's. In 2002, the team won its only Super Bowl.
For this list, I take into account career success, their importance to the franchise, and Hall of Fame status.
10. Ryan Nece
Ryan Nece may be the son of Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott, but that's about all he's known for.
Undrafted out of UCLA, the former Bruin spent six seasons with Tampa Bay. Nece was a top special teams contributor before tearing his ACL midway through his rookie season. He came back the next year, and beat out former Pro Bowler Dwayne Rudd to start at linebacker.
He left for one final season in Detroit before retiring. For his career, he played in 85 games while starting 35. for the Bucs and remains in the Tampa area, helping to fund local programs for youth and families through "The Ryan Nece Foundation."
9. Brad Johnson
This veteran quarterback gave Tampa Bay a spark to their offense they haven't seen from the position in a long time.
After spending his first nine seasons in Minnesota and Washington, Brad Johnson joined the Buccaneers in 2001. That year, he broke Tampa Bay team records for passing yards with 3,406, completions with 340, and attempts with 540. In 2002, Johnson became the first ever Bucs QB to lead the NFC in passer rating at 92.9, and set new team records for touchdowns with 22, completion percentage at 62.3, consecutive passes without an interception with 187, and lowest interception percentage with 1.3% while helping the team win Super Bowl XXXVII.
In four seasons with the Bucs, Johnson made the pro bowl in 2002 and threw 64 touchdowns in four years.
8. Warrick Dunn
Although he was undersized, he proved his play was even bigger.
A first round pick in 1997, Warrick Dunn brought a new dynamic to Tampa Bay's offense winning offensive rookie of the year. In his six seasons with the Buccaneers in two separate stints, Dunn rushed for nearly 5,000 yards and 28 total touchdowns. During his playing career, Dunn won many man of the year awards for his humanitarian work.
The only thing that kept Warrick Dunn higher on this list is the fact that he accumulated most of his stats with division rival Atlanta. But the impact he made for Tampa Bay was the beginning of a change in offensive mindset.
7. Jimmie Giles
He played in an era were the Bucs were terrible and that's why he is forgotten in history.
Doug Williams once said that tight end Jimmie Giles is as Hall of Fame worthy as Ozzie Newsome or any other tight end in Canton. During his nine seasons in Tampa, Giles made four Pro Bowls, caught 279 passes for 4,300 yards and 34 touchdowns. His four-touchdown game against the Miami Dolphins in 1985 is still a Tampa Bay record. Giles could have been one of the greatest tight ends ever if he was used more in the offense.
He spent his final four seasons in Detroit and Philadelphia. In his 13 seasons, Giles posted 350 catches for over 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns in his career .
6. Ronde Barber
He's no only one of the greatest shutdown cornerbacks of the past 15 years but is also the greatest run stopping corner of this generation.
In 1997, Ronde Barber was selected in the third round by Tampa. In is 16 seasons, Barber intercepted 47 which he returned for 12 touchdowns. His most famous play was his interception of Donovan McNabb for a touchdown in the 2002 NFC Championship game. He was the last member of Tampa Bay's Super Bowl team to retire. He is also known for being the twin brother of former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber.
Barber retired as a five time pro bowler, five time All-Pro, and the Buccaneer's all time leader in interceptions. He also holds NFL records for most starts and sacks by a cornerback.
5. Mike Alstott
The "A-Train" was one of the last power running fullbacks that ever played.
A second round pick in 1996, Mike Alstott quickly made a name for himself as a power back. The Buccaneers utilized Alstott primarily as a running fullback as opposed to a blocking fullback that teams were starting to switch to at the time. Along with teammate Warrick Dunn, the two were the cornerstones of the offense during their time together and were nicknamed "WD-40." in his 12 seasons in Tampa Bay, Alstott rushed for over 5,000 yards and 58 touchdowns.
He was a six time pro bowler and a four time All-Pro. His yards and touchdowns are more than doubled of the next closest fullback during his career.
4. John Lynch
He's one of the hardest hitting safeties ever to play the game.
A third round pick in 1993, John Lynch became the first establishing member of the Tampa 2 defense. When he arrived, the Buccaneers were among the worst teams in the league; his first three years were the last of a record stretch of 10+ loss seasons. In 1997, Lynch knocked out his brother in law, Bears tight end John Alfred which became one of the signature plays of his career. During his 15 seasons, Lynch recorded over 1,000 tackles, 13 sacks, and 26 interceptions.
Lynch signed with Denver after being released for salary cap reasons. His legacy lives on as a nine time pro bowler, four time All-Pro, and a cornerstone of the Tampa 2 defense.
3. Derrick Brooks
Not only one of the great players in team history, but one of the greatest linebackers ever to suit up.
A first round pick in 1995, Derrick Brooks joined fellow rookie Warren Sapp and veteran John Lynch to form one of the greatest defenses in NFL history. In 14 seasons, Brooks started 221 of 224 games, recording 1,698 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 25 interceptions, and an NFL record for a linebacker six touchdowns. He was the 2002 defensive player of the year and helped Tampa Bay win its first Super Bowl by returning an interception 44 yards for a touchdown to seal the victory.
He retired after 2008 as an 11 time pro bowler and nine time All-Pro. Brooks was inducted into Canton in 2014 as a first ballot Hall of Famer.
2. Warren Sapp
His play and swagger brought life back into Tampa Bay's defense.
As a first round pick in 1995, Warren Sapp was a day one starter and remained so for his entire nine seasons with the team. In 1999, Sapp recorded 12.5 sacks as he was named the NFL's defensive player of the year and helped the team reach the NFC Championship. In his nine years in Tampa, Sapp recorded 77 sacks and helped the team win Super Bowl XXXVII. His career was checkered by controversy from his hard-hitting style of play and occasional verbal outbursts, both on the field and off. Some of these resulted in fines by the league, and he was once ejected from a game for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Sapp left for Oakland after the 2003 season as a seven time pro bowler, six time All-Pro, and a member of both the 90's and 2000s all decade teams. Upon retirement, his number #99 was retired by Tampa Bay and was a first ballot Hall of Famer in 2013.
1. Lee Roy Selmon
This one should be a no brainer.
In 1976, Lee Roy Selmon was the first player picked in the NFL draft and the first-ever pick for the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was a dominant force even for a franchise that wasn't very good. Selmon was seen as the NFL's best defensive end during his nine seasons and drew no equal comparisons. He is seen as one of the greatest 3-4 defensive lineman ever to play. In 1979, he won the NFL's defensive player of the year and helped the Buccaneers advance to the NFC Championship game for the first time in team history.
Selmon retired after 1984 as a six time pro bowler, five time All-Pro, and a member of the 80's all decade team. In 1995, he became the first Tampa Bay Buccaneer to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.