TAMPA — The images of Jimmie Giles playing tight end for the Bucs flashed on a screen at the start of a news conference Wednesday, and once again the 6-foot-3, 239-pound tight end was running past or bulldozing through defenders en route to the end zone.
After being introduced as the third member of the team's Ring of Honor, Giles walked slowly to a podium at One Buc Place. The toll from all those collisions has rendered the 56-year-old permanently disabled with knee and back problems, but he made it clear the honor was worth the wait.
"Lee Roy (Selmon) talked last year about the number of years we've been here and how long it's taken to get to this stage of our career," Giles said. "I'll tell you, it's good to be able to see everybody now as opposed to not being able to see them if they just come view me some other way. … I'm very thrilled, beyond words."
Giles will join Selmon and John McKay, the team's first coach, in the Ring of Honor in a halftime ceremony Dec. 4 during the Bucs' throwback game against the Panthers.
Bucs vice chairman Bryan Glazer said Giles was an obvious choice because he played nine of his 13 seasons in Tampa Bay and was named to four Pro Bowls, the team's first offensive player to receive that honor. Giles was a receiver in a tight end's body but also a dominant run blocker. He caught 279 passes for 4,300 yards and a franchise-record 34 touchdowns for the Bucs and was a key member of their playoff teams in 1979, '81 and '82.
Wednesday's news conference was attended by several of Giles' teammates, including Hall of Famer Selmon, Richard "Batman" Wood, Kevin House, Steve DeBerg and coach Wayne Fontes.
"Back then Jimmie was underutilized, like all of our receivers," House said. "We ran the ball a lot. He would be a mega-star in today's game."
The memory Giles said he relished the most was celebrating with teammates after they upset the Eagles to reach the NFC Championship game. "One of the things that will never elude me is the elation that came over me when (linebacker) David Lewis and I were rolling in the mud after the 1979 game," Giles said. "That was the beginning of Tampa Bay being recognized by the National Football League."
During his 10-minute address, Giles credited his parents for his work ethic. His dad worked two jobs as an electrician and making carpets in Greenville, Miss. Drafted by the Dodgers, Giles said he turned down a baseball scholarship at Michigan to play football at Alcorn State and woo his future wife, Vivian Davis.
Giles was drafted by the Houston Oilers in 1977 but traded to Tampa Bay for a first-round pick after his rookie season following an encounter with Bucs player personnel director Ken Herock. Giles said he agreed to a workout arranged by a man he knew as "Lyin Tom," who promised him a year's worth of free barbecue if he didn't "fall out." Giles didn't know Herock was in attendance.
While Giles' selection to the Ring of Honor was inevitable, quarterback Doug Williams, who left the organization last year to coach at Grambling State, still remains a likely candidate.
"Doug is a more popular name," Glazer said. "He's a name that everybody talks about. Jimmie led his life kind of quietly but made four Pro Bowls. There's room for everybody."
Staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report.