The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a plethora of talent throughout their history. Players that defined the team and the culture of being a Buccaneer forever cemented in Tampa Bay lore. In this four-part article series, I would like to breakdown the best Buccaneers in their respective jerseys.
Here in part one, we’ll talk about the best players to wear the infamous Creamsicle jersey that gave the Bucs the nickname, “The Yucs.” Since their breakout season in 1976, Buccaneer fans all around Tampa still wear the loud jerseys.
The order of the players are in no particular order, I’m not putting one over the other. So, let’s sit back and head back to the past and look at the best of the Creamsicle.
Hardy Nickerson Sr. (1993-1999), LB
Nickerson, who was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1987, and made his Bucs debut in 1993. In his first year in Tampa Bay, he was selected to his first Pro Bowl. Along with his Pro Bowl selection, Nickerson was a First-Team All-Pro.
Although he had very high accolades in 1993, 1996 is where he had his best season. In 1996, Nickerson had two interceptions, 3.0 sacks, and 76 solo tackles. He was again selected to the Pro Bowl. And in 1997, he was chosen as a First-Team All-Pro, again.
Overall, Hardy Nickerson was one of the Bucs best defensive players in their history, ending his last three seasons with Pro Bowl appearances. After his time in Tampa, he played with the Jacksonville Jaguars for two years. Then played with the Green Bay Packers for one year.
Nickerson retired after the 2002 season. He retired with a lifetime stat line of 21.0 sacks and 1,272 solo tackles.
Ricky Bell (1977-1981), RB
A year after their inaugural season, the Buccaneers selected Ricky Bell out of USC in the 1977 draft. Being the first overall draft pick in 1977, Bell had some solid years in Tampa Bay.
His best year with the Bucs was in 1979 where he rushed for 1,263 yards and ran in seven touchdowns. He helped lead the Bucs to a division championship. That was the only time in his NFL career where he ran for over 1,000 yards. The year before, 1978, Bell ran for 679 yards and six touchdowns.
Bell added a much-needed swagger to the Bucs. He was a tough runner, athletic, and was effective at breaking tackles.
His last season with the Bucs he ran for a mere 80 yards. In 1982, Bell went cross-country to play for the San Diego Chargers. He retired with 3,063 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Jimmie Giles (1978-1985), TE
The Houston Oilers drafted Jimmie Giles in 1977 and only played one year for them. When he moved to Tampa, he made an immediate impact. In 1978, his first year as a Buccaneer, he had 324 yards with two touchdowns.
As the years went on, Giles got better, becoming a four-time Pro Bowler. His best year with the Bucs was in 1981. In ’81, he compiled 786 yards and six touchdowns. Giles went on to have several successful years in Tampa.
In 1985, his last year in Florida, he had 673 yards and eight touchdowns. After the ’85 season, Giles played for multiple teams, eventually retiring after the 1989 season as a Philadelphia Eagle.
Giles’ time with the Bucs earned him a spot in the “Ring of Honor,” which is home to 11 other legendary Buccaneers and coaches. Giles’s final career stats were 5,084 yards and 41 touchdowns.
Doug Williams (1978-1982), QB
Williams was the 17th pick of the first round of the 1978 draft, selected by the Buccaneers. He went 4-6-0, throwing for 1,170 and seven touchdowns in his first season as a Buccaneer. However, as his numbers grew, so did his popularity.
His best season with Tampa came in 1981 where he went 9-7-0 with a 50.0% completion percentage. Williams threw for 3,763 yards, 14 interceptions, and 19 touchdowns. The year previous, he broke 3,000 passing yards for the first time in his career.
Williams was one of the best quarterbacks in Bucs history. After his brief time in Florida, he went to Washington to play for the Redskin, where he retired. Williams’ career numbers are nothing to balk at, throwing for 16,998 yards, 100 touchdowns, and a 38-42-1 record.
Lee Roy Selmon (1976-1984), DE/ DT
Lee Roy Selmon needs no introduction. One of the most popular players in the history of Tampa Bay sports. In Tampa’s inaugural year, they selected Selmon out of Oklahoma.
Selmon, a six-time Pro Bowler, and a First-Team All-Pro was a force on the Bucs defensive line. His best year with Tampa was in 1983 where he had 11.0 sacks. From 1979 to 1984, Selmon made the Pro Bowl.
In addition, he holds 23.0 sacks, and 10 fumbles recovered in his career. In 1979, he even scored his first and only touchdown. Because of his amazing years with the Bucs, Selmon was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995.
Above all, Selmon’s legacy is still present at Raymond James Stadium. Easily one of the first prominent Buccaneer players. Besides his brilliant play, even after his untimely death in 2011, Selmon set the standard for the Bucs defense.
As a result, Lee Roy Selmon has an expressway in Tampa named after him. Without a doubt, Selmon is the first true Buc to instill fear in opposing defenses.
In conclusion, we looked at some great Buccaneers from early in the franchise’s history. The early years of the Buccaneers had its ups and downs for sure, but they definitely proved themselves as a tough team to beat, and set a standard for future teams.