As news of Ronde Barber being the next player inducted into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ring of Honor this fall, a hot topic is who should be next? With his time as a Buc over with, is it too soon to contemplate six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy?
Running back James Wilder, linebackers Hardy Nickerson and Richard “Batman” Wood are on the short list of old school Bucs. One would hope Wilder, Nickerson, and Wood are inducted sooner than later given time passed since retirement. It appears, however, that the organization is inducting chronologically; should that order continue, they will have been overlooked.
Former General Manager Rich McKay and legendary defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin are both names who should be rightfully considered for the ROH.
Running back Warrick Dunn, defensive end Simeon Rice, and receiver Vincent Jackson are a few retired players that come to mind from rosters of the past decade. While his stats don’t necessarily warrant induction, some might even argue Anthony “Booger” McFarland could be honored, due to his likability factor. Mike Evans, with five consecutive 1,000+ yard seasons and 40 touchdowns thus far in his career, is a shoo-in when his time comes.
McCoy For The ROH?
When Gerald McCoy’s time comes, it begs the question: has the newly departed defensive tackle left a legacy that will deem him deserving of a swing at the Ring?
The wound of losing a beloved player such as McCoy is still fresh. Depending on your stance on the way things ended for him in Tampa, the answer could go either way.
Barber, the 13th player invited into this esteemed group, will join five of his 2002 Super Bowl contemporaries Mike Alstott, Derrick Brooks, Jon Gruden, John Lynch, and Warren Sapp.
Sapp, who left Tampa Bay for Oakland via free agency in 2003 and retired from the league in 2007, became the fifth player inducted in 2013.
Will McCoy eventually follow his mentor’s footsteps into the Ring?
Comparing McCoy & Sapp
Since Sapp was the last DT inducted, it’s logical to compare McCoy to Sapp in search of an educated answer as to whether McCoy will find himself inducted.
Both players spent an illustrious nine seasons with the Bucs. So let’s analyze how McCoy’s stats stack up against his distinguished predecessor.
Impact plays – total tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, forced fumbles, passes defended, and quarterback hits – are critical to a defensive player’s career.
There’s no record for QB hits for Sapp as a Buc, as this stat was not officially kept by the NFL until 2006. Sapp was on the downside of his career by then, but did have 17 QB hits in 2006 and five in 2007 for the Raiders. Bestowed the nickname “Quarterback Killa,” those who watched Sapp know he showed QBs no mercy. Had the NFL kept that stat while Sapp was a Buccaneer, it’s likely he would have surpassed McCoy’s 140 QB hits.
This stat was not officially tracked until 1999. Sapp had 15 (1999-2003) and McCoy, 22. Sapp averaged three passes defended per season; pacing that average retroactively would’ve given Sapp an estimated 27.
But in other impact plays, here’s how the two compare:
TOTAL TACKLES/TACKLES FOR LOSS
296 (218 solo)/79 (TFL)
400 (307 solo)/64 (TFL)
54.5 (led team 4x)
77 (led team 4x)
When McCoy was drafted third overall in 2010, the defense had been desperately seeking that knockout force the Bucs lacked at defensive tackle after Sapp went to Oakland. Since he arrived in the league, McCoy has been one of the best interior defensive linemen. For the Bucs, he played in 123 of 144 games and racked up 54.5 sacks, 296 combined tackles, 79 tackles for loss, and 140 quarterback hits. He’s fourth in sacks among defensive tackles since 2010 behind Geno Atkins, Aaron Donald, and newest Buc Ndamukong Suh.
Did McCoy Do Enough?
With all the talent McCoy brought to Tampa Bay, it was still not enough, and he was not too humble to admit so.
McCoy was the light in the dark of a bad defense, but never shined bright enough to help lead the team to the Promised Land. During his Tampa tenure, the Bucs best total defense ranking came in 2010, McCoy’s rookie season. He did not meet initial expectations; missing 13 games his rookie and sophomore seasons due to biceps injuries. The defense averaged a dismal 23rd placement and an equally unimpressive record of 52-92.
In usual Sapp style, he made his feelings known on the subject of recent Bucs defense.
As the saying goes, there’s no I in team. However, it seems that for all the talent that McCoy had, it wasn’t enough to help the team win games. McCoy never had the luxury of a high-caliber supporting cast; whereas, Sapp had stars Brooks, Barber, Lynch, and Rice around him to make him stronger, and helped lead the team to an 80-64 record. Additionally, coaches Dungy and Gruden are Bucs legends. It’s worth noting that previous inductees Leroy Selmon (1976-1984) and Paul Gruber (1988-1999) played for bad teams, 44-88-1 and 77-115, respectively.
McCoy didn’t make the team better, and for all his potential, his numbers aren’t all that astounding. While he’s not Hall of Fame worthy, he is deserving of a Ring of Honor nod because of his contributions to the team and the community.