Former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman once replicated Michael Jackson’s famous Thriller photo for a calendar. That’s appropriate because for this exercise, we “wanna be starting something.”
Let’s be honest, any effort that calls upon you to subjectively rank players from different teams and different eras invariably leads to debate. But that’s why we love sports. That’s why we bang our fists on dining room tables, hurl obscenities in the bar and — when we’re really fired up — reduce it to personal insults.
But like they say on the Geico commercial, it’s what we do.
By ranking the 100 Greatest Bucs players of all time to commemorate the NFL’s 100th season, we don’t want to incite a riot, but we expect a degree of healthy banter. We consulted long-time fans, folks who have covered the team past and present and then factored in career statistics, playoff appearances, Pro Bowl nominations and that unqualified “it factor” that some possess and others don’t.
We’re presenting the Bucs 100 countdown in four tiers leading up to our No. 1 selection. Check between now and 6 a.m. on Sunday as we roll out the list in four parts.
Let us know what you think by emailing us at email@example.com. And be kind to us ... and each other.
100. Josh Bidwell (2004-2008)
The only punter in team history to make a Pro Bowl, he averaged 45.6 yards a kick in 2005. That season proved to be the crowning achievement for a career that began with Green Bay and a triumph over testicular cancer in 1999. Bidwell signed as a free agent with the Bucs in 2004 and spent five seasons with the team.
99. Darrelle Revis (2013)
The Bucs traded first and fourth-round picks for what turned out to be one season of Revis. The cornerback recorded only two interceptions but made the Pro Bowl. At the end of the season, the Bucs hired Lovie Smith and with the team transitioning to the zone-oriented Tampa 2 defense, Revis’ fit came under question.
98. Antonio Bryant (2008-2009)
In a star-crossed career disrupted by a drug test controversy and injury, Bryant signed with Tampa Bay and emerged as a star. For a year. In 2008, he produced one of the best single-season receiving efforts in team history: 83 receptions, 1,248 yards and seven touchdowns. The year included a nine-catch, 200-yard effort on Monday night against Carolina.
97. Mark Robinson (1988-1990)
Robinson made up one half of a memorable safety tandem with Harry Hamilton, who starred with Robinson on the 1982 Penn State national title team. He started 40 games in his Bucs career and had 12 interceptions. He later spent many years as an analyst for USF football games.
96. Harry Hamilton (1988-1991)
Hamilton started 50 games for the Bucs at free safety, recording 17 interceptions. He also made his mark in Tampa Bay through community service, including work with former Tampa Bay defensive end Tyrone Keys. In a 2018 poll of Penn State fans, Hamilton and Robinson were listed among the school’s 10 best defensive backs of all time.
95. Wayne Haddix (1987-1991)
Wayne Haddix will always have 1990. Haddix had a Pro Bowl season in 1990, producing seven interceptions and returning three for touchdowns as a starting cornerback. He never recorded another interception, but that superior season made him a star on the Nintendo game Tecmo Super Bowl. He told the Ringer the video success helps him in his current role as a financial adviser.
94. Jeremy Zuttah (2008-2013)
The Rutgers graduate played guard and center and eventually worked his way into a role that saw him start 76 games before leaving in free agency. Many considered allowing Zuttah to leave one of the Bucs’ biggest mistakes during that period. He signed with Baltimore, started 41 games and made a trip to the Pro Bowl as a Raven in 2016.
93. Clifton Smith (2008-2009)
In 2008, Smith earned a Pro Bowl trip by averaging 14.1 yards on punt returns and 27.6 yards on kick returns. He returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns that season. With touchdown kick returns proving to be such a franchise rarity, Smith earns a spot.
92. Logan Mankins (2014-2015)
The former Patriots guard started 31 games in his two seasons and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in his final season. Mankins leads a group of veteran linemen acquired by the Bucs since 2000, acquired late in their career, who made contributions to the Bucs. Hall of Famer Randall McDaniel and former Gator Lomas Brown also fall into that category.
91. Gerald Carter (1981-1987)
One of the team’s all-time top 10 receivers, Carter had 239 receptions for 3,443 yards and 17 touchdowns. Sadly, the Bucs went only 16-63 during Carter’s best years, including three seasons in which they went 2-14.
90. Jermaine Phillips (2002-2009)
Phillips, a University of Georgia standout, earned a Super Bowl ring as a rookie and eventually started 55 games at strong safety after John Lynch left for Denver. His career was cut short by injury, a broken arm in 2008 and a broken thumb in 2009, his last in the league.
89. Josh Freeman (2009-2013)
Arguably the most enigmatic player in team history, Freeman ranks third on the franchise’s passing list. He is the last quarterback to help the Bucs to a 10-win season. Although clashes with new coach Greg Schiano, played a role, Freeman’s downward spiral out of the league remains a bit of a mystery.
88. Reggie Cobb (1990-1993)
Cobb ranks seventh on the team’s all-time rushing list. Had his best season in 1992 with 1,171 yards and nine touchdowns. A long-time NFL scout, he died in April at age 50 while working for the 49ers.
87. Ron Hall (1987-1993)
Hall, a University of Hawaii product who spent his off time while with the Bucs surfing, biking and golfing, enjoyed his best season after Sam Wyche took over Tampa Bay in 1992. Hall caught 39 passes for 351 yards and four touchdowns. He had 209 receptions for 2,422 yards during his Bucs career. The receiving yardage is second all-time among Bucs tight ends.
86. Michael Pittman (2002-2007)
In six seasons with the Bucs, Pittman rushed for 3,362 yards and scored six touchdowns. He’s best remembered for his 124 yards rushing on 29 carries in Tampa Bay’s 48-21 victory over Oakland in Super Bowl 37.
85. Steve Wilson (1976-1985)
One of the original Bucs, the center started 104 games during his tenure with the team. Was a member of the 1979 Bucs offensive line that allowed only 12 sacks in 16 games.
84. Ron Holmes (1985-1988)
The former University of Washington All-American was the Bucs’ first pick in 1985. Holmes had 17.5 sacks from his defensive end spot in his four seasons with the Bucs, but didn’t fulfill his potential. He passed away in 2011.
83. Marcus Jones (1996-2001)
Jones, whose well-sculpted body appeared to be ripped from the pages of a Marvel comic book, never quite fulfilled his potential, but the defensive end he had a break-out season in 2000, tallying 13 sacks. Jones also enjoyed a brief career as a mixed martial arts fighter.
82. John Cannon (1982-1990)
Cannon was a steady player during his nine seasons, ranking among the franchise’s best in fumble recoveries with 11. The defensive end also had 22 sacks. Cannon went on to become a successful triathlete and Tampa paramedic.
81. Wally Chambers (1978-1979)
Started all 16 regular-season games at defensive tackle when the Bucs went to the 1979 NFC Championship game. Chambers passed away last month in Saginaw, Mich., where he had lived for several years.
80. Santana Dotson (1992-1995)
The 1992 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year had 10 sacks that season. In just 46 starts with the Bucs, the defensive tackle recorded 195 tackles, 23 sacks and five forced fumbles. Dotson went on to play in two Super Bowls with Green Bay.
79. Dave Moore (1992-2006)
Only Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber have played more games for the Bucs than Moore’s 190. He doubled as a tight end and long snapper during his heydey. Since 2007, Moore has served as the color analyst on the Buccaneers Radio Network.
78. Martin Mayhew (1993-1996)
In four seasons, Mayhew recorded 297 tackles and eight interceptions. He was a member of Washington’s 1991 Super Bowl championship team and played an understated role in helping change the team culture in Tampa Bay.
77. Anthony McFarland (1999-2005)
You know him as “Booger,” current color analyst of ESPN’s Monday Night Football. In Tampa Bay, he started 95 games over an eight-year span, recording more than 200 tackles as a steady defensive tackle playing alongside hall of famer Warren Sapp.
76. Ian Beckles (1990-1996)
Sources: buccaneers.com, profootballreference.com. Contact Ernest Hooper at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @hoop4you