Who is the best Buccaneer not in the Hall of Fame?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been an NFL franchise for 43 years and has played in NFC championship games in three different decades but only have three players enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Should there be more? That’s what we’re asking our listeners and readers in our weekly Talk of Fame Network poll – who’s the best Buccaneer not enshrined in Canton? Here are your options:
Mike Alstott, FB. One of the last of the old-school fullbacks whose legs were as important as his hands in the passing game and his blocking in the run game. He rushed for 5,088 career yards and 58 touchdowns and caught 305 passes for 2,284 yards and 13 touchdowns. Alstott was a six-time Pro Bowler who rushed for seven 100-yard games and is the franchise’s all-time leader in touchdowns with 71. His best seasons were 1999 when he rushed for 949 yards for a Tampa Bay team that reached the NFC title game and 2001 when he rushed for 10 TDs. He was enshrined in the franchise Ring of Honor in 2015.
Ronde Barber, CB. The franchise leader in career games (241), starts (232) and interceptions (47). One of the best defensive playmakers of his era, Barber scored 14 career touchdowns on eight interceptions, four fumble recoveries and two blocked kicks. He returned an interception 92 yards against Donovan McNabb and the Eagles in 2003, then returned two more interceptions of McNabb in a 2006 game. He played 16 seasons, all with the Bucs, went to five Pro Bowls and was a member of their 2002 NFL champions.
Jimmie Giles, TE. A four-time Pro Bowler who caught 279 passes for 4,300 yards and 34 touchdowns. He played nine seasons and averaged 15.4 yards per career catch. Giles caught 40 passes for 579 yards and seven touchdowns in 1978 as the Bucs reached their first NFC title game. He could stretch defenses, catching passes of 81, 80 and 66 yards in his career. Giles scored a career-best eight touchdowns in 1985 and was the first offensive player enshrined in the franchise Ring of Honor in 2011.
Hugh Green, OLB. The seventh overall pick of the 1981 draft, Green had a dynamic start to his career with Pro Bowl appearances in two of his first three seasons. He intercepted five passes and returned two of them for touchdowns. But he was injured in a car wreck during the 1984 season, suffering a facial fracture that ended his season after eight games. He was traded to the Miami Dolphins midway through the 1985 season and wound up playing 11 years, but never again with the impact he had during his Pro Bowl seasons of 1982 and 1982.
Paul Gruber, OT. The fourth overall pick of the 1988 draft, Gruber started all 183 games he played in his 12-year career and was a two-time team MVP (1992, 1994). A left tackle, Gruber played 4,850 consecutive snaps over the first five seasons to start his career. He also played the entire 1989 season without allowing a sack. In his final season the Bucs reached the 1999 NFC title game. Gruber was enshrined in the franchise Ring of Honor in 2012.
John Lynch, S. Lynch went to five Pro Bowls in his 11 seasons with Tampa Bay and four more Pro Bowls in his final four seasons with the Denver Broncos. A thumper, Lynch collected 1,277 tackles and was a captain of Tampa’s 2002 NFL championship team. Lynch has been a five-time Hall of Fame finalist and was enshrined in the franchise’s Ring of Honor in 2016.
Doug Williams, QB. Tampa’s first round draft pick in 1978, Williams passed for a franchise-record 80 touchdowns and 12,648 yards in his five seasons. He quarterbacked the Bucs to their first NFC title game in 1979 and also to a division title in 1981. Williams passed for 300 yards 10 times, including a career-best 486 yards and five touchdowns in a 1980 game against the Minnesota Vikings. Williams would also play in the USFL for the Oklahoma Outlaws and the Washington Redskins, with whom he was a Super Bowl MVP in 1988. Williams was enshrined in the franchise Ring of Honor in 2015.