Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sapp Joins Bucs' Ring of Honor. Who's Next?

By Dan Trammel

With Warren Sapp, his employers have to take the good with the bad. As a defensive tackle, he was as disruptive a force as the NFL has ever seen. He also talked a lot, creating controversy in the process. In recent months, Sapp’s name has appeared multiple times involving Highway to Hall topics, so now is a good time to discuss them.

Let’s start with the good:

On November 11, defensive tackle Warren Sapp will become the fifth member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor.

The Ring of Honor, introduced in 2009, includes Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon (2009), head coach John McKay (2010), tight end Jimmie Giles (2011), and left tackle Paul Gruber (2012). A new member is added each year.

The Bucs first paid tribute to former players and coaches with the Krewe of Honor, which was established in 1991 and unveiled that year at halftime of the December 8th game against the Minnesota Vikings. The charter members of the group were Selmon, McKay, and running back Ricky Bell. Quarterback Doug Williams was enshrined in 1992 while owner Hugh Culverhouse was added in 1993. Members of the Krewe were honored with giant murals in Tampa Stadium, but when the stadium was demolished in 1998, so was the Krewe.

When the Glazers purchased the Buccaneers in 1995, they tried to erase the memories created by the franchise that had lost 10 or more games in 12 consecutive seasons. They built a new stadium and changed the logo and team colors. Players including Sapp and Derrick Brooks advocated for a Ring of Honor. In Brooks’ words, “Honoring history is something we need to do.”[1] In 2009, that goal finally came to fruition.

At first it seemed the Bucs may honor players and coaches in chronological order, as the selection of Giles as the third member of the Ring struck some as unusual. The selection of Sapp, however, refutes that theory. Perhaps that was Tampa’s goal, but once Sapp was tabbed to join the NFL Hall of Fame, it would seem odd to not have him as a member of the franchise’s Ring of Honor. On that note, the next member of the Ring of Honor will undoubtedly be Derrick Brooks, who will join Sapp in the NFL Hall of Fame next year in his first year of eligibility. For now, let’s take a look at future members of the Bucs’ Ring of Honor.

One of the finest cornerbacks to wear a Buccaneer uniform, Abraham left Tampa as its all-time interception leader with 31. He intercepted 2 Brett Favre passes in the 1997 NFC Divisional Playoff Game loss to the Green Bay Packers. He was selected to the NFC Pro Bowl team in 2000.

Alstott was a fan favorite due to his unwillingness to be tackled. Known as the A-Train, train whistles were a staple at Buccaneers games during his tenure. Alstott was named to 6 consecutive Pro Bowls and he was selected 1st Team All-Pro three times. He is Tampa’s leader in rushing touchdowns with 58, while ranking as its second leading rusher with 5,088 yards on 1,359 carries. He is also fourth in receptions with 305. He scored 4 touchdowns in the 2002 playoffs in leading the Bucs to a Super Bowl victory.

Barber was selected to 5 Pro Bowls and named a 1st Team All-Pro three times. He was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2000s. He is Tampa’s all-time leader in interceptions (47) and games started (232), while ranking 2nd in tackles (1428). His game-sealing 92 yard interception return for a touchdown in the 2002 NFC Championship Game against the Eagles stands as the most memorable play in franchise history.

Bell rushed for 1,263 yards in 1979. He carried the ball 38 times for 142 yards and 2 touchdowns in the 24-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1979 NFC Divisional Playoff Game. He died in 1984 of polymyositis.

Derrick Brooks
As depicted in a United Way commercial, Brooks asks a bus full of children, “Who’s your favorite player?” The response: “Mr. Derrick Brooks.”
A fan favorite throughout his stay in Tampa, Brooks was the 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, a Member of the 2000s All-Decade Team, an 11-time Pro Bowler, and a 5-time 1st Team All-Pro. He was named 2nd Team All-Pro 4 times. He is Tampa’s All-Time leader in tackles with 2,198.

Brown played nine seasons as a Buccaneer, setting a then team record with 9 interceptions in 1981. He still ranks third on Tampa’s all-time interception list with 29. Brown intercepted 2 key Eric Hipple passes in the final game of the 1981 season, which helped allow the Bucs to claim a 20-17 victory over the Detroit Lions and win the NFC Central Division title. The following season, his fumble recovery against the Buffalo Bills on December 19, 1982 preserved Tampa’s 24-23 victory, and started a streak of 3 consecutive wins to close out the season and capture another playoff berth.

Carrier is the Bucs All-time leader in receiving yards with 5,018. He stands 4th in receiving TDs with 27. He was named a Pro Bowler in 1989, a season which saw him eclipse the 100-yard receiving mark 9 times. He is 1 of 10 rookies in NFL history with 200 or more yards receiving in a game as he caught 8 passes for 212 yards in a 44-34 loss to the New Orleans Saints on December 6, 1987.

Selected in the Expansion Draft in 1976, Cotney served as Tampa’s starting safety for most of the franchise’s first 9 seasons (though missing the entire 1981 season to injury). A fan favorite, Cotney intercepted 17 passes and recovered 6 fumbles in 113 career games with Tampa. He was selected to Sports Illustrated’s 1983 All-Pro Team.[2]

Hired by Tampa in 1996 to replace Sam Wyche as head coach, Dungy helped turn the Bucs franchise around. After a 6-10 season in 1996, Dungy led the Bucs to 5 consecutive non-losing seasons (8-8 in 1998) and 4 playoff appearances. In his 6 seasons as head coach, Tampa won 54 games and had a .563 winning percentage. He was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2000s as the 2nd Team head coach.

Dunn teamed with Alstott to form the rushing tandem known as “WD-40.” Dunn twice surpassed 1,000 yards rushing in a season and was named to 2 Pro Bowls during his Buccaneer career. He stands as Tampa’s third leading rusher with 4,986 yards on 1,256 carries. He also ranks third in receptions with 306. He was named the 1997 NFL AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. Dunn scored 3 touchdowns in Tampa’s dramatic 38-35 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Monday Night Football on December 18, 2000.

Jon Gruden
Despite Dungy’s success, his conservative offense led to his firing following the 2001 season. Tampa then traded 4 draft picks to Oakland for Gruden. Gruden immediately led Tampa to its first Super Bowl title. In 6 more seasons with the club, Gruden led Tampa to 2 playoff appearances. After losing 4 games in a row to end the 2008 season, resulting in a 9-7 record, Gruden was fired. He is Tampa’s winningest coach with 57 wins.

The best deep threat in team history, House ranks first in yards per reception (minimum 200 receptions) at 17.2 (Joey Galloway ranks second at 15.8). House is 2nd all-time in receiving yards with 4,928 (trailing Carrier) and receiving touchdowns with 31 (trailing Giles). He was Tampa’s first player to reach 1,000 yards receiving in a single season, surpassing the total twice in his Buccaneer career. His 71 yard touchdown reception with 9:39 to play enabled the Bucs to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 24-23 on December 6, 1981. His 84-yard 2nd quarter touchdown reception 2 weeks later against the Detroit Lions gave the Bucs a lead they never relinquished in a 20-17 win that allowed the Bucs to clinch the NFC Central Division in the final game of the season.

Though only a Buccaneer for 4 seasons, Johnson led Tampa to a 26-23 record during his tenure and a Super Bowl title. He passed for more than 3,000 yards in each of his 3 full seasons in a Buccaneer uniform. Johnson connected with Joe Jurevicius on a 71-yard pass play to set up the go-ahead score in the 2002 NFC Championship Game against the Eagles.

Monte Kiffin
Kiffin was Tampa Bay’s legendary defensive coordinator from 1996 to 2008 and is the architect of the Tampa-2 defense. Only twice in his tenure did a Buccaneer defense finish outside of the top 10 in either points allowed or yards allowed. During his tenure, the Bucs set the NFL records for most consecutive games with a sack (69) and the most consecutive games with a sack and a forced turnover (50).

Once named a Sporting News 1st Team All-Pro and twice selected to Pro Football Weekly’s All-Conference Team, Logan started a then team record 103 consecutive games from 1980-1985. Playing the nose tackle position in Tampa’s 3-4 defense, he ranks 4th on the career sack list with 38.5. His 21-yard 4th quarter fumble return for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions on December 20, 1981 gave the Bucs a 20-10 lead which they held on to win 20-17 and clinch the NFC Central Division title. Logan later became a color analyst for radio broadcasts of Buccaneer games.

A key member of Tampa’s Super Bowl winning team, Lynch was a 9-time Pro Bowler with the Bucs and a 2-time 1st Team All-Pro. His interception in the 3rd quarter helped set up the Bucs first touchdown in Tampa’s 14-13 victory over the Washington Redskins in the NFC Divisional Playoff on January 16, 2000.

Tampa Bay’s starting center for 9 straight seasons, Mayberry started 144 consecutive games. He was named to the Pro Bowl in his final 3 seasons in a Buccaneer uniform.

As described by St. Petersburg Times writer Gary Shelton, Nickerson “was that rare free agent who was worth every penny. He came here talking of a better day, and by golly, he helped make it happen. There were times in those early days when there would be an impact, and the running back would go down, sudden and limp, and you wouldn’t have to check to see who made the tackle. It was Hardy. He played with a fury, and he infused those around him with it.”[3] Nickerson was named to 5 Pro Bowls as a Buccaneer. He was a 2-time 1st Team All-Pro and named to the NFL All-Decade 2nd Team of the 1990s.

A tragically underrated player, Quarles served as Tampa’s starting middle linebacker for 5 seasons, after moving over from the left side following Jamie Duncan’s departure. Described by Sports Illustrated as “an amazingly gifted MLB with terrific speed and range,” [4] Quarles was named to the 2002 Pro Bowl. He returned a Brett Favre pass 98 yards for a touchdown in a 14-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers on October 7, 2001.

Rice terrorized quarterbacks from his defensive end position from 2001-2006. Despite spending only 6 seasons in Tampa, Rice is third on the Bucs’ all-time sack list with 69.5, trailing only Sapp and Selmon. He recorded 2 sacks in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Washington started 96 games at cornerback between 1976 and 1983. He stands fourth on Tampa’s all-time interception list with 28. His third quarter interception return for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints helped lead the Bucs to its first franchise victory on December 11, 1977.

Tampa’s offense through much of the 1980s, Wilder is the all-time leading rusher (5,957) and receiver (430) in Tampa history, and trails only Alstott in rushing touchdowns with 37. He owns Tampa’s single season rushing record with 1,544 on a then NFL record 407 carries in 1984, a season in which he was named to the Pro Bowl. Wilder’s 47-yard run in overtime against the Chicago Bears on January 2, 1983, set up Bill Capece’s game-winning field goal and clinched a playoff berth.

Doug Williams
Williams quarterbacked the Bucs to their first 3 playoff appearances. In his 5 seasons as the starting quarterback, Williams led the Bucs to a 33-33-1 record, including 3 winning seasons. Chased out of Tampa by penny-pinching owner Hugh Culverhouse following the 1982 season, the Bucs failed to have another winning season for 15 years. He returned to Tampa years later as a front office executive but again left on less than acrimonious terms. Williams still holds Tampa’s single game passing record with 486 yards in a 38-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on November 16, 1980.

Wood retired as Tampa’s all-time leading tackler with 851 and all-time leader in games player (132) after nine seasons as a Bucs linebacker. He had an 88-game consecutive starting streak from 1976-81 and never missed a game because of injury. He recorded 18 tackles in the 1979 NFC Championship Game.

Unlike the Phillies who have essentially run out of players to add to their Hall of Fame, yet somehow cannot make obvious choices, the Bucs appear to have a long list of people from which to choose for many years. After these members are added, presumably there will be a new list of players. Hopefully, the Bucs never grow so desperate to have to choose between Frank Pillow and Jeff Carlson.

As for now, Sapp was the obvious selection. Let’s now turn to other news involving Mr. Sapp.

[1] Stroud, Rick. “Franchise dips its toe into its pool of history.” St. Petersburg Times 10 Dec. 2006: 1X. Print.
[2] Zimmerman, Paul. “Dr. Z’ Lets You Know Who’s Really All-pro.” Sports Illustrated 26 Dec. 1983: 24. Print..
[3] Shelton, Gary. “Pin the blame for this goodbye on the NFL.” St. Petersburg Times 23 Feb. 2000: 1C. Print.
[4] Zimmerman, Paul. “Trash talking has always been around, but now it’s out of hand.” 19 Nov. 2003. Available at

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