TAMPA — When you rank the 100 greatest Bucs players of all time, you reach a tipping point.
You have an idea about who belongs in the top 50, but where and how do you rank one higher than the other. 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.
Consider the three quarterbacks in this third tier: Jameis Winston, who holds all the team’s passing records: Vinny Testaverde, who held most of them, and Trent Dilfer, who played a part in the team’s resurgence and twice helped the team reach the postseason — although a demotion and injury cut short his work in 1999.
We put them close together, but gave Dilfer an edge because of the playoff appearances.
Fair? No? Hey, you be the judge. And when you’re finished, take this down to the barbershop and start all over again.
Check back tomorrow morning to find our final installment with the top 25 Bucs players of all time.
50. Donovan Smith (2015-2018)
Smith has started every game at left tackle in four-plus seasons since being selected in the second round out of Penn State. The 6–foot–6, 338–pound left tackle is noted for us great agility and footwork. Jameis Winston has been relatively healthy during his time with the Bucs, and that’s a tribute to Smith.
49. Brad Culpepper (1994-1999)
For a franchise known for its defenses, Culpepper ranks fifth all-time sacks list with 33. His post-football career hasn’t gone too poorly either (See Survivor: Blood vs. Water, Survivor: Game Changers and his trial lawyer television commercials).
48. Chidi Ahanotu (1993-2000, 2004)
Ahanotu was a versatile defensive linemen who started 109 games for the Bucs and recorded 34.5 sacks, fourth all-time in franchise history.
47. David Logan (1979-1986)
Logan, a defensive tackle, started 108 games and recorded 28 sacks over the course of his career. In retirement, he developed into a popular local broadcaster and Bucs game-day radio analyst before shockingly passing away at the age of 42 in 1999.
46. Barrett Ruud (2005-2009)
Rudd worked his way into a starting role over two seasons and then averaged 128 tackles over a four-year span.
45. Donald Penn (2007-2013)
Penn made 108 starts during his seven-year stint and earned a Pro Bowl invite in 2010. From 2007 to 2013, Penn played in every single game, starting all but four. He remains in the league with the Washington Redskins.
44. Davin Joseph (2006-2013)
Joseph was a two-time Pro Bowler who started 99 games for the Bucs.
43. Micheal Spurlock (2007-2011)
Only three players in Bucs history have returned a kickoff for a touchdown, but Spurlock was the first, snapping a streak that spanned 32 seasons. Spurlock returned a touchdown 90 yards, virtually going untouched on Dec. 16, 2007. Dec. 16 should be declared Micheal Spurlock day.
42. Vernon Turner (1993-1994)
Only seven players in Bucs history have returned a punt for a touchdown, but Turner was the first. On Oct. 2, 1994, he raced 80 yards against the Detroit Lions, breaking a scoreless punt return streak that had stood 18 seasons.
41. Karl Williams (1996-2003)
He returned a franchise-record five punts for touchdowns. Also averaged 22.3 yards on kick returns and produced 1,700 receiving yards. Fans called him “The Truth,” a nickname borrowed from a boxer who held the same moniker, but the Bucs’ Karl Williams always gave an honest effort.
40. Vinny Testaverde (1987-1992)
Testaverde lost his spot as the team’s all-time passing leader this season, but in the preseason he got a chance to see his son start a game for the Bucs. Like many former Bucs signal-callers, he’s remembered for what he did after he left the team.
39. Jameis Winston (2015-present)
Winston has yet to reach the playoffs and has only one winning season. But he’s the team’s career leader in TD passes, completions and passing yards. After his performance in London, fans will want to know how he ranked this high.
38. Trent Dilfer (1994-1999)
Dilfer’s Bucs career was sporadic, but he twice helped the team reach the playoffs and in 1997 he earned an invite to the Pro Bowl. After leaving Tampa Bay, he went on to help the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl, triumphantly raising the trophy in Raymond James Stadium after going 12-of-25 for 153 yards in the game.
37. Cadillac Williams (2005-2010)
Rushing for 1,178 yards, Williams won the AP Rookie of the Year Award after a stellar 2005 season, but injuries negated the rest of his career.
36. David Lewis (1977-1981)
Lewis was another defensive stalwart that helped the Bucs have the league’s best unit in 1979. Lewis earned a Pro Bowl trip in 1980. He was noted as much for his tackling prowess as his ability to drop back into coverage. He had 10 career interceptions for the Bucs.
35. Scot Brantley (1980-1987)
Brantley, a former Gator, played his entire career with Tampa Bay, started 71 games. His hit against Detroit quarterback Eric Hipple remains legendary. After retiring, Brantley, a former Florida Gator, became a popular radio host in Tampa Bay.
34. Cecil Johnson (1977-1985)
Johnson played in 111 games for the Bucs and in 1981, he racked up 10 or more tackles in 11 games to help the Bucs win the NFC Central title. Johnson racked up nine career interceptions, five in 1981.
33. Ricky Bell (1977-1981)
Bell was one of the highlights of the 1979 season, rushing for 1,263 yards. Tragically, he died from a rare muscular disease in 1984 at the age of 29.
32. Joe Jurevicius (2002-2004)
He played only three seasons with the Bucs, but the team’s Super Bowl story can’t be told without him, including a critical 71-yard reception in the NFC Championship game.
31. Cedric Brown (1976-1984)
Brown’s 29 interceptions rank third on the Bucs career list. He tallied nine in 1981 with 215 return yards and two defensive touchdowns. That single-season interception mark stood as a franchise record until Ronde Barber surpassed it with 10 in 2010.
30. Tony Mayberry (1990-1999)
Mayberry earned three Pro Bowl bids during his career with the Bucs. He’s actually the first Buccaneer offensive lineman ever to make the Pro Bowl, being chosen as an all-star three consecutive times from 1997-99.
29. Martin Gramatica (1999-2004)
The team’s all-time leading scorer with 592 points, he missed only two extra points in his Bucs career. Gramatica proved key to the Bucs’ defensive-oriented effort, often winning games with multiple field goals.
28. Doug Martin (2012-2017)
The Bucs’ No. 4 all-time leading rusher had ups and downs, but he rushed for more than 1,400 yards in 2012 and 2015, made the Pro Bowl each season and was All-Pro in 2015. Greater consistency could have vaulted Martin even higher on this list.
27. Joey Galloway (2004-2008)
An ageless wonder, Galloway accounted for 3,912 yards and 28 touchdowns in five seasons after joining the team at the age of 33. Galloway had his best season, hauling in 83 passes (fifth in team history) for 1,287 yards (second in team history) and 10 touchdowns. Before Mike Evans, he was the only Bucs receiver to have three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
26. Keyshawn Johnson (2000-2003)
Some might say he was more flashlight than star, but Johnson hauled in 298 receptions for 3,828 yards in his Bucs career, including a pivotal TD catch in the 2002 NFC Championship game. He’s the only Bucs player to have more than 100 receptions (106 in 2001) in a single season.
Contact Ernest Hooper at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @hoop4you