NFL NEWS: Tampa Bay Bucs
Longevity is something that’s rare nowadays given the history of the Bucs franchise. One of the important staples of the Tampa 2 defense is something of an unsung hero and underrated talent in Brian Kelly. Kelly was the Bucs’ second round selection in the 1998 draft.
Kelly played in 130 of 160 games starting in 79. He amassed 22 interceptions for 227 yards and one touchdown. He had a career-high eight in 2002, the year the team won the Super Bowl.
Flanked for the most part by fellow cornerback Ronde Barber, Kelly thrived from the dominating Buccaneer front seven that created pressure up front while the opportunistic defensive backs created turnovers and key pass deflections.
Kelly left the team in 2008 for an unforgettable year with the Detroit Lions before calling it a career.
House had a productive near seven years with the franchise,despite difficult transitions with quarterback changes going from Doug Williams, Jack Thompson, Jerry Golsteyn, Steve DeBerg to Steve Young. The 1980’s produced some awful Buccaneer teams, yet one of the most reliable was House, who was the Bucs’ second round choice in 1980.
Despite only producing two 1,000 yard seasons, House remained productive, averaging 17.2 yards a catch, 4,928 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns during his time with the team. That’s over 700 yards and six touchdowns a season (before the season of his trade to the Los Angeles Rams in 1986).
Who know what greatness House could have achieved if his team didn’t have so many double-digit losing seasons?
Rhett was the last starting running back for the the Bucs to regularly don the creamsicle Bucco Bruce jerseys. He was drafted in the second round of the 1994 draft behind first rounder quarterback Trent Dilfer by head coach Sam Wyche. Despite a 13-19 record in Rhett’s first two years with the club, he became the team’s primary workhorse producing back-to-back 1,000 rushing yard seasons.
Injuries sidelined Rhett and the emergence of Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott as the team’s one-two running punch under new coach Tony Dungy ultimately ended his run in Tampa Bay.
Rhett finished with 2,853 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns with the team. Leaving the team following the 1997 season, Rhett found his way to the Baltimore Ravens rushing for 1,032 yards and five touchdowns in his two seasons there before wrapping up his career with the Cleveland Browns in 2000.
Alstott is something of an enigma in NFL circles. Despite being recognized as a fullback, the second round choice in 1996 made his primary production from the running back position. He’s also never rushed for 1,000 yards in a season, but has plenty of touchdowns to his name.
He’s also earned the distinction of becoming the first Tampa Bay Buccaneer to score their first touchdown in Super Bowl XXXVII.
One of the most popular players in franchise history, Alstott amassed 5,088 rushing yards and 58 touchdowns over his 12 year career with the team. He’s ran alongside Rhett, Dunn, Michael Pittman, Charlie Gardner, and Carnell “Cadillac” Williams. His best seasons were in 1998 and 1999 where he rushed for a combined 1,795 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. The 1999 season was the franchise’s second appearance in the NFC championship game.
He last played in 2006 and spent the 2007 season on the injured reserve list before announcing his retirement from the game in 2008 due to neck-related problems.
Who else to earn the top spot than the franchise career rushing holder, Wilder? Wilder is the only other back outside of Rhett to have rushed for back-to-back 1,000 seasons in franchise history. In nine seasons with the team, Wilder amassed 5,957 rushing yards and 37 touchdowns. His 1,000 yard seasons netted 1,544 and 1,300 yards as well as 13 and 10 touchdowns in the 1984-5 seasons.
Wilder was also quite the threat through the air, owning the franchise record in receptions with 430. He has 3,492 receiving yards for nine touchdowns.
Wilder’s career ended with the Detroit Lions in 1990 with a lackluster season spelling for future hall of famer Barry Sanders grabbing only 51 yards in 11 carries.
Despite Wilder and House being on some of the worst Bucs teams in franchise history, they were a part of two playoff runs in 1981 and 1982.