Who should be next in Bucs Ring of Honor?
The Bucs announced Wednesday that tackle Paul Gruber would become the fourth person inducted into the team's Ring of Honor, joining former players Lee Roy Selmon and Jimmie Giles and former coach John McKay. Here's a look at the next five who should go into the Ring of Honor.
1. Derrick Brooks
How can this guy not already be in? You could make an argument that Brooks is the best player in team history. At the very least, he's the second-best player in franchise history behind Selmon.
Imagine the Bears having a Ring of Honor and three players going into it before Walter Payton. How far down on the list would the 49ers go before inducting Joe Montana?
Here's the thing: Gruber most certainly deserves to be in a Bucs Ring of Honor. Selmon, McKay and Giles deserve it, too. This isn't to suggest that Gruber or any of the others were bad selections or undeserving in any way. But put it this way: right now, the Bucs have, in effect, a Mt. Rushmore and Brooks isn't on it.
2. Doug Williams
Through the first three selections to the Ring of Honor, it kind of looked as if the Bucs were sort of going chronologically, although the Bucs say that isn't the case and that all deserving candidates will someday get in, regardless of when they played. Still, the Ring of Honor started with Selmon, the first pick in team history and the first (and only, so far) Hall of Famer. Next up was McKay, the first coach in team history. Then it was Giles, a four-time Pro Bowl player who played with the Bucs from 1978 to 1986.
So, by that rationale, you might think the next selection should not have been Gruber, but former quarterback Doug Williams, who played only five seasons in Tampa Bay but led the team to its first three playoff appearances. The Bucs were lousy before Williams showed up, generally good while he was here and lousy after he left.
But the relationship between the Bucs and Williams always has been shaky at best. Are the Bucs worried Williams would say something negative at his induction or, perhaps, not even show up? Or do they honestly believe Williams is not worthy of induction, at least at this time?
It looks as if the selection of Gruber bridges the gap between the old Bucs and the more modern day Bucs. If that’s the case, it would appear that the Bucs, for now anyway, have skipped over Williams, James Wilder and Richard “Batman’’ Wood.
3. Tony Dungy
Gruber's selection bridges the gap between generations of the Bucs. Gruber dates to the old creamsicle days and into the pewter days. That means the Bucs can now name Dungy, the coach who broke the streak of 14 consecutive losing seasons and made the Bucs respectable. In fact, it would seem natural to induct Dungy before addressing many of the great players that Dungy coached -- Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Mike Alstott and, eventually, Ronde Barber.
4. Malcolm Glazer
This probably wouldn't go over too well with the fans, especially seeing as how the Glazer family ultimately chooses who goes into the Ring of Honor. Putting owners or front-office types into such hallowed places as halls of fame and rings of honor is never thrilling, not like inducting actual players. Some might even say it's flat-out wrong. After all, no fan wears a jersey with an owner's name on the back.
But let's not dismiss the impact the Glazer ownership has had on the Bucs. Buying the franchise following the death of previous owner Hugh Culverhouse, the Glazers resurrected a franchise that was wandering aimlessly through the wilderness and even in danger of moving. They spent money, let the football people make the football decisions and, lickity split, the team became a perennial winner and Super Bowl champ.
5. Warren Sapp
Come to think of it, there's really no reason why the Bucs have to do this one person at a time.
Wouldn't it be neat to induct Brooks, Sapp, Barber and Lynch -- the leaders of that Tampa 2 defense -- at the same time? Or think of how much fun it would be if the Bucs added to the whole Tony Dungy-Jon Gruden debate by having both go on the ring simultaneously. Maybe former defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin could join them. There are still old-schoolers left to induct, such as Wood, Wilder, Ricky Bell and Hardy Nickerson. Mike Alstott deserves a spot.
But Sapp is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. Only Selmon and Brooks were better Bucs.