1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Bucs

The survivor: Demar Dotson, longest-tenured Bucs player

Now entering his 11th season, the right tackle’s humanity has outlasted all the losing.
Bucs offensive tackle Demar Dotson (69) runs drills during training camp. MONICA HERNDON | Times
Published Aug. 1
Updated Aug. 2

TAMPA – Bucs training-camp regulars Onida Fountain and her daughter, Courtney, waited behind the rope line after practice. Onida held a gift bag of sweets. She waited on her friend, the gentle giant, the cookie monster, the sweetest Buc.

“Dot loves chocolate chips,” Onida said.

Bucs right tackle Demar Dotson, immensely large, immensely friendly, ambled over. The 6-foot-9, 315-pound Dotson swallowed Onida in a hug. That is how Dot rolls.

Onida is the younger sister of iconic Bucs fan Jackie Riles, the legendary “Pillow Lady,” who has knitted pillows for Bucs for decades.

MORE BUCS: Forget Bruce Arians, the Bucs need Todd Bowles to be their miracle worker

“These are our people, we got to remember that,” Dotson said.

Dotson, entering his 11th NFL season, is the longest-tenured Bucs player. He was the longest tenured even before Gerald McCoy left.

“To me, it means God gave me a little more grace,” Dotson said. “When I came here in 2009, God made a way for me, left the door open for me, and it never really closed.”

Dotson is: a survivor. He’s an Easter Island statue on a windswept isle of losing. His Bucs career began in 2009. The Bucs last made the playoffs in 2007.

Bruce Arians is Dotson’s fifth Bucs head coach. He played under Club Raheem Morris, toed the line for Shawshank Greg Schiano, sang along with Auld Lang Lovie Smith and tried to stay loose under uptight Dirk Koetter. Now comes Arians and the promise he brings.

Offensive tackle Demar Dotson (69) has played in 115 games for the Bucs, 91 as a starter. MONICA HERNDON | Times

“I think time will tell,” Dotson said. “Every head coach comes in and tries to impart their mentality of a team. It’s up to the players to buy in. One thing I like about B.A. is that he’s willing to take care of guys. For example, he gave me a day off yesterday. He’s going to take care of you, he’s going to get you to the dance. That makes you appreciate a guy, it makes you go hard out for that guy."

Dotson, who turns 34 in October, joined he Bucs in 2009 as a college free agent from Southern Mississippi. He has played in 115 games for the Bucs, 91 as a starter. Every time someone tries to move Dotson out of his job, he has moved back in.

“I don’t know if it’s anything special about me,” Dotson said. “They’ve stayed with me. I don’t believe I’m a terrible tackle, because if you’re a terrible tackle you can’t stay around. Every year I’ve been a starter, since 2012, I’ve heard it. But the talk doesn’t matter.”

No one is going to confuse Dotson with Forrest Gregg. There are a lot of right tackles who are better. And the Bucs don’t exactly have blocks of granite up front. In fact, Dotson and his aging body, especially from the knees down, are prime suspects on a suspect right side of the line.

And yet every time you see Dotson, you smile. He is there for media, for fans, despite the fact that nobody knows the trouble he’s seen. Or the false hopes, like 10-6 in 2010 under Raheem, like 6-4 in 2012 to start Schiano’s first season, like last year’s 2-0 start before Koetter tuned to dust.

“I can’t really say we had a bad head coach around here,” Dotson said. “What I can say is we’ve had teams that just didn’t buy in. If the players don’t buy in, you’re not going to win.

MORE BUCS: Darcie Glazer Kassewitz sets the tone for NFL gender diversity

“I’m not a wolf, I don’t howl at the moon, but it does get frustrating. I’m getting older. I want to have that playoffs feeling. You don’t want to play all these years and have nothing to show for it. You want to have something to show your kids, hey, we did this.”

Demar Dotson plows on. He’s the kind of guy you pull for, the kind you one day hope to talk to in the bedlam of a playoff-bound celebration.

Jackie Riles’ husband died a few years ago, Dotson attended the memorial, along with Gerald McCoy. No one who was there forgets that.

“I’d be happy for the whole team if they win, but Dot is one of my favorites,” Onida Fountain said.

Jackie Riles isn’t feeling so great these days. Demar Dotson, Bucs lifer, took his bag of chocolate chip cookie into the locker room. He soon emerged with a note for Jackie, all folded up. He pressed it in Onida’s hand.

What did it say?

“That’s between him and her,” Onida said.

The demeanor of Demar Dotson (69) and his 12 seasons as a Buc has made him a fan favorite. MONICA HERNDON | Times

Contact Martin Fennelly at or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly


  1. Jameis Winston is on pace to gain 4,700 yards this season and throw 32 touchdown passes and 27 interceptions. All of which would be career highs. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Franchise-altering decisions loom for Tampa Bay as it nears the halfway point of the season. Among them: Should the Bucs be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline? How much stock should they place in...
  2. Thumbs up: Need 300 passing yards? A couple of touchdown passes? Oatmeal recommendations? Kirk Cousins is your guy. BRUCE KLUCKHOHN  |  AP
    Kirk Cousins and Chase Edmonds lead this week’s list of players you should stash now.
  3. These are unquestionable the three greatest Bucs of all time. But who's the greatest? Tampa Bay Times
    Counting down from No. 25 to 1: Choosing between three Hall of Famers.
  4. What would separate Trent Dilfer from Vinny Testaverde and Jameis Winston? How about a visit to the postseason and a Pro Bowl invitation. Tampa Bay Times
    Counting down from 50 to 26: There will be a debate about the quarterbacks in this group and the receivers.
  5. Steve Young was a supplemental draft pick of the Bucs in 1984 and started 19 games for Tampa Bay in 1985 and 1986 before he was traded to the 49ers for a pair of draft picks in 1987. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Tampa Bay Times
    Counting down from No. 75 to 51: A reminder of how difficult it is to sustain a full NFL career.
  6. Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman turned in some quality seasons, but never reached the playoffs. CLIFF MCBRIDE
    Counting down No. 100 to 76 includes one of the franchise’s biggest flops, an NFL rookie of the year and a future broadcasting star.
  7. Mike Ditka was thrilled about getting a $12,000 salary with the Bears at age 22: "I went out and bought a new car. I had it going.” AP Photo/Matt Slocum
    He’s had a remarkable life as an NFL player, coach, actor and pitchman.
  8. Emphasizing the role of Cameron Brate, who scored against Carolina last week, should just be one change the Bucs coaching staff should consider. ALASTAIR GRANT  |  AP
    Bruce Arians and his staff need to consider making some changes during the bye week to save a 2-4 season
  9. Tampa Bay Lightning center Alex Killorn (17) and right wing Luke Witkowski (28) celebrate with goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) after the Lightning defeated the Boston Bruins 4-3 in a shootout in an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) ELISE AMENDOLA  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay: There was bad news Thursday in the Tampa Bay penalty box, for USF’s Blake Barnett, for the Yankees and the NFL’s reigning MVP.
  10. Teddy Bridgewater (5)  will look to stay unbeaten as Drew Brees' fill-in when the Saints play the Chicago Bears Sunday at Soldier Field. PHELAN M. EBENHACK  |  AP
    Here are our picks for this week’s NFL games.