Memorial Day is a time to honor and reflect. Officially, we honor those military personnel that have given the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. As a sports fan, please indulge me as I name my Buccaneers Top-10 All-Time Players List.
Even though the Buccaneers still qualify as one of the losingest professional franchises in the world, they’ve had plenty of elite and household names throughout the years.
The Bucs have as many Hall of Famers as anybody in the NFC South. Carolina has been around since only 1995, and Atlanta and New Orleans have not had storied histories of producing Canton talent.
Yet this makes for a fun discussion. You may agree with my Top 10, or not. If you do, you may not like the order. The players I honor, I’ve watched closely in person over the years. I’ve seen them with my own eyes. I remember the context. I’ve interviewed them. I’ve seen them against their peers.
So, cue the music! Hit the lights!! Grab that mask!!!
Al Keck’s Top Ten All-Time Players List
10. Doug Williams
Yes, he played only five seasons with the Bucs, but that wasn’t his fault. Hugh Culverhouse wouldn’t pay him. Williams was the first African-American quarterback drafted in the first round. Williams led the Bucs to their first three playoff appearances in five years. He was still able to throw for 73 touchdowns as a Buccaneer, third-best in team history. Williams did that in only 67 games. It was his class and leadership that stands out above all.
9. Hardy Nickerson
The O.G. when the Buccaneers started to play great defense. Nickerson signed as a free agent from Pittsburgh and immediately gave the Buccaneers a much-needed toughness. Hardy was an early leader and provided an example for the young Tony Dungy’s defense.
8. Paul Gruber/Lavonte David (Tie)
Wrong place, wrong time for both as a Buccaneers. Gruber was the best player on some horrible teams. Ask opposing defenses if he could play. It’s a crime he never made a Pro Bowl, yet he was an All-Pro in 1991 and 1992. He could have signed for more money with other teams but stayed in Tampa.
David is the Bucs all-time leader in tackles for loss. When he’s done, he could break just about every tackling record in Buccaneers’ history. That’s saying something with the likes of Brooks, Barber, Quarles, and Nickerson. If he can stay healthy and gets another well-deserved contract, he could put those tackling records out of sight.
7. John Lynch
Many may rank him higher and I probably will if he makes the Hall of Fame. Lynch was elected to nine Pro Bowls and another two-time All-Pro choice. The best compliment is to watch college and NFL defenses and see how many safeties wear his #47.
6. Ronde Barber
Again, Barber may move up when he is named to the Hall of Fame and that may come in the next year or two. Five-time All-Pro and elected to five Pro Bowls, he was known for his 47 career interceptions and 28 sacks. He made the biggest play in Buccaneers’ history with the pick six that put the Bucs in the Super Bowl.
5. Mike Evans
In only six years, Mike Evans’ stats are astounding. He’s tied Randy Moss with six 1,000 yard receiving seasons to begin a career. At 26, he’s the youngest in NFL history to reach 7,000 receiving yards. Again, only six NFL seasons. Imagine what he will do with Tom Brady.
4. Mike Alstott
Easily the most popular Buccaneer in franchise history, you can still see his #40 jersey as much as any jersey outside of Tom Brady. His 71 touchdowns are #1 in Bucs history and nobody is even close. He may be rated too high for some, but watch his highlight reel and you can see why he is an all-time favorite.
3. Warren Sapp
A first-ballot Hall of Famer and the 1999 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. His 2000 team record 16.5 sacks was unequaled until Shaq Barrett broke it last season. No doubt he was as dominant as any defensive lineman in pro football from 1997 to 2003. Sapp was a six-time All-Pro and made the NFL’s All-Decades teams in the 1990s and 2000s.
2. Lee Roy Selmon
Selmon was the first Buccaneer draft pick and first Buccaneer Hall of Famer. He was also the 1979 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Six Pro Bowls and even has an expressway named after him. Our community misses him immensely.
1. Derrick Brooks
Not a shocker here. Another first-ballot Hall of Famer. Nine-time All-Pro, 11 time Pro Bowler, and the 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the year. Brooks scored four touchdowns in that season including a pick-six in Super Bowl XXXVII. If Selmon has an expressway, Brooks should have one bridge named after him.
I was wrong, I couldn’t name 10 players. I named 11. And I had trouble getting it down that low. Consider yourself lucky. I know Ray Kennedy couldn’t do a Top 10. It would have to be a Top 50 for him. So, I had to put together a list of my honorable mentions.
In no particular order:
Jameis Winston. Obvious reasons. Bucs all-time leader in most passing categories. His 5,109 passing yards in 2019 was a season for the ages and the 30 interceptions aged Bruce Arians.
Simeon Rice. Second all-time in Buccaneer sacks in only six seasons. Had two sacks in the Bucs Super Bowl win.
James Wilder. Nearly 6,000 yards rushing. Wilder was the Buccaneer offense for so many years.
Richard “Batman” Wood. Pittsburgh is known for producing wide receivers. Kansas City defensive backs. The Bucs have a long list of linebackers. Batman was the first.
Shelton Quarles. Replaced Nickerson as middle linebacker on the Bucs great defensive teams.
Jimmy Giles. One of the first great receiving tight ends. Imagine his numbers if the Bucs kept Doug Williams.
Gerald McCoy. He did make six Pro Bowls and is one of the Bucs all-time sack leaders.
Feel free to comment with your own Top Ten. Just know, I have ex-wives and two daughters that will tell you I rarely listen to anybody.
Now, it’s your turn!!