What are the best moments for each NFL franchise? Yahoo Sports provides our opinion, which you are free to disagree with (and we’re sure you will).
5. Right call at the top
Lee Roy Selmon’s NFL career was marked by a lot of firsts: the initial Buccaneer named to the Pro Bowl, earn All-Pro honors, win AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year and be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. All of this came, of course, after he was the very first draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – the No. 1 overall selection of the 1976 draft.
Selmon and the Buccaneers endured many struggles in the early years, including the 26 straight losses, but they reached the postseason three times in his nine-year career.
4. Franchise’s first win
At some point, the Buccaneers were due to get their first franchise win, but this pursuit had become beyond dire.
After a winless inaugural 1976 campaign, things were even uglier in Year 2. Through their first 12 games of the ’77 season, the Bucs had been limited to seven points twice, three points on two other occasions and were shut out six times. However, they got some extra motivation from New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning before the teams’ Week 13 meeting.
Manning was quoted as saying, “Losing to the Bucs would be a disgrace.” Tampa responded by sacking Manning five times and intercepting six passes (including three returned for touchdowns) during a 33-14 victory.
3. Closing the Vet
Ronde Barber not only punched the Bucs’ ticket to Super Bowl XXXVII – he also turned out the lights on Veterans Stadium.
With the Philadelphia Eagles driving and attempting to cut the deficit to one score in the fourth quarter of the 2002 NFC title game, Barber intercepted Donovan McNabb and returned it 92 yards for a touchdown in Tampa’s 27-10 victory. It was the Eagles’ final game in the Vet before moving to Lincoln Financial Field the following season.
Overshadowed by the interception return is that Barber also had a sack, forced fumble and four pass breakups in the game.
2. Striking gold in 1995 draft
Two Hall of Famers emerged from the first round of the 1995 NFL draft, and the Buccaneers selected both of them.
Defensive tackle Warren Sapp, a projected top 5 pick from the University of Miami, fell to the Buccaneers at No. 12 after reports surfaced a month earlier that he failed multiple drug tests. Tampa then sent a pair of second-round picks to the Dallas Cowboys to move up and select Derrick Brooks from Florida State at No. 28.
The tandem arguably makes up the best two players in Tampa history. Sapp is the team’s all-time leaders in sacks (77), Brooks is the leader in tackles (1,297) and the two played huge roles in turning the Bucs into a perennial playoff team that finally won it all.
1. Chucky’s revenge
After four playoff appearances and four in five seasons ended in defeat, Tampa management had enough of the team’s underwhelming offense and fired head coach Tony Dungy in January 2002. After being spurned by big-name candidates or internally not being on the same page with whom to hire, the Bucs sent four picks and $8 million to the Oakland Raiders to acquire coach Jon Gruden.
In Year 1, Gruden had the Buccaneers in their first (and only) Super Bowl … against the Raiders. The battle of No. 1 defense vs. No. 1 offense was one-sided – Gruden, clearly with a feel of the Raiders’ playbook, had his defense ready. Regular-season MVP Rich Gannon was intercepted five times, two by game MVP Dexter Jackson and three more that were returned for touchdowns, as the Bucs and a prancing Gruden rolled to a 48-21 victory.