NFL NEWS: Tampa Bay Bucs
The Bucs have not had the best of luck when drafting first rounders, but here are their top five best selections.
The criteria is based on how they’ve excelled in their time with the team enough to say, “they’ve made their name here.”
I had a hard time deciding between him and Josh Freeman since Freeman’s done more stat-wise in his four years with the team than Williams has in his five, but ultimately the greatest measure of a quarterback’s success is his wins and losses. Freeman’s record with the team is 24-35 and Williams is 33-33. Williams has ultimately the edge here taking the Bucs to their first NFC Championship game albeit in a losing effort.
Williams has 12,648 passing yards completing 47.4 percent of his passes and throwing for 73 touchdowns and interceptions. Williams left the Bucs following the 1982 season and served a two-year stint in the USFL before completing his career with the Washington Redskins, where he would ultimately win Super Bowl XXII.
Williams would return as part of Bucs staff during the Jon Gruden/Bruce Allen era in 2004 before leaving again in 2010. Perhaps someday, the Glazers will honor his contributions with a spot on the Buccaneers Ring of Honor despite already being inducted in the Tampa Stadium Krewe of Honor in 1992 prior to Tampa Stadium’s demolition.
The Bucs were fortunate enough to have an offensive lineman last as long as Gruber did, particularly since he spent the better part of his 12-year career on the losing side of the franchise.
Gruber only missed nine games in his career and has seen the worst of the Ray Perkins days through the near immaculate success of Tony Dungy and the franchise return to the NFC Championship game.
Gruber appeared in 183 games and started in 135. He was inducted in the Buccaneers Ring of Honor in 2012.
One of Tony Dungy’s three signature franchise picks along with Derrick Brooks and John Lynch to lead what ultimately became the Tampa 2 defense, Sapp forever redefined the defensive tackle position as well as the scheme itself.
The Tampa 2 utilizes speed over size to pressure the quarterback and disrupt any activity in the backfield. Sapp’s 77 career sacks with the team during his nine-year stint with the team is second only to Lee Roy Selmon.
Sapp was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2013 and to the Buccaneer’s Ring of Honor in 2013. At his most dominant, Sapp had over 10 sacks in three out of four years from 1997-2000 with a combined 46.5 sacks during the stretch. The seven-time Pro Bowler only missed three games during his time with the team.
Sapp left team in 2004 and finished career with the Oakland Raiders, the team he helped defeat in Super Bowl XXXVII, retiring in 2007.
Lee Roy Selmon
As the first pick in franchise history, Selmon almost single-handedly defined what Buccaneer football was to be, a defensive juggernaut. Selmon owns the franchise record for career sacks with 78.5. In his nine years with the team, he went to the Pro Bowl for six straight years.
He became the first Tampa Bay Buccaneer to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995, also becoming the among first inducted in the Tampa Stadium Krewe of Honor (with John McKay and Ricky Bell) and the very first inductee of the Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor in 2009.
Selmon’s play was intricate in keeping the momentum in the Bucs favor during their divisional round matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles resulting in the Bucs’ first playoff victory in franchise history in 1980.
Brooks has perhaps the most complete career of any Buccaneer in history. A 11-time Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl Champion, first-ballot inductee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2014) and a member of the Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor(2014), Brooks also holds the all-time franchise career holder in tackles with 1,715.
Picked in the same first round as Sapp in the 1995 draft, Brooks would dominate the position with a combined 100 tackles or more in 12 of his 14 seasons in the league. During the Super Bowl year in 2002, Brooks had a career-high five interceptions for an NFL record (for a linebacker) 218 yards for three touchdowns. In the two biggest games in franchise history, Brooks provided definitive key interceptions that helped seal the games against the Eagles in the NFC Championship game and the Raiders in the Super Bowl.
Brooks is one of six players in NFL history to make the Pro Bowl, be named Defensive Player of the Year and win a Super Bowl/NFL championship.