The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began their existence in the NFL in 1976, and went on to lose their first 26 games. It’s no wonder people referred to them as the “yucks”, instead of their abbreviated nickname the Bucs. However, the Buccanneers became the first expansion franchise in the era of the post AFL-NFL merger to win a division title, a playoff game and play in the conference championship game in the same season (1979).
But, that was short lived, as their losing ways returned and they suffered 14 consecutive losing seasons during the 1980s and early 1990s. That period helped them gain the draft picks needed to build the team that eventually turned them into a perennial playoff team and culminated with their only Super Bowl victory (XXXVII). In their 39 years, they’ve also won 6 division championships and made the playoffs 10 times, 7 of those appearances from 1997-2007.
Many of the players on that Super Bowl team, and contributed to the organizations great success, are still vividly remembered as their careers just came to a close within the last five to eight seasons. A few of those men are also on this list as being the Mount Rushmore for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives. Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday. I will make a separate list for those contributors soon.
- Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
- Can you tell the franchise’s story without them? If no, they’re on the list.
Derrick Brooks (1995-2008) was the face of the Bucs team that won the franchise’s first and only Super Bowl (XXXVII). The 11-time Pro Bowl and 9-time All-Pro selection is Tampa Bay’s all-time leader in tackles (1,297) and forced fumbles (24). In 2002 he was named the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year and NFL Alumni Linebacker of the year. He’s a member of the 2000s All-Decade Team, Pro Football Hall of Fame (2014) and is only the third Buc to have his jersey number (#55) retired by the team.
Warren Sapp (1995-2003) is the Bucs all-time career leader in sacks (77), and was a member of the Super Bowl XXXVII Championship team. Sapp is a 7-time Pro Bowl selection and 6-time All-Pro. In 1999 he was awarded the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and is a member of both the NFL 1990s and 2000s All-Decade Teams. In 2013, Sapp was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Bucs’ Ring of Honor, and had his jersey number (#99) retired.
Leroy Selmon (1976-1984) is the first NFL draft pick in the team’s history. Selmon played in six consecutive Pro Bowls, and was a 5-time All-Pro. In 1979 he won the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year awards. He is a member of the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade Team and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1995). Selmon is the first Bucs player to have his jersey retired (#63) and in 2009 was inducted into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor.
Tony Dungy (1996-2001) wasn’t the coach of the team that won Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego, but he changed the culture in Tampa from perennial losers to champions. When he was fired by Tampa Bay in 2001, he was the all-time leader in victories with 54. Although the team won the Super Bowl the season after he was fired, fans and players largely credit him for their success.
There you have it Bucs fans. What do you think? Did I get it right? Or would you have gone with Ronde Barber? Mike Alstott? John Lynch? or someone else? I want to hear from you.