|Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
Play in Raymond James Stadium
Headquartered in One Buccaneer Place
|Team colors||Red, Pewter, Black, White, Florida Orange (medium shade)
|Chairman||Bryan Glazer, Edward Glazer, Joel Glazer|
|General manager||Mark Dominik|
|Head coach||Greg Schiano|
|League championships (1)|
|Conference championships (1)
|Division championships (6)
|Playoff appearances (10)|
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (often shortened as the Bucs) are a professional American football franchise based in Tampa, Florida, U.S. They are currently members of the South Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL) – they are the only team in the division not to come from the old NFC West. The team, along with the Seattle Seahawks, joined the NFL in 1976 as an expansion team. The Bucs played their first season in the AFC West as part of the 1976 expansion plan. After the season, they switched conferences with the Seattle Seahawks and became part of the NFC. The club is currently owned by Malcolm Glazer. They play their home games at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
The Buccaneers are the first post-merger expansion team to win a division title, win a playoff game, and to host and play in a conference championship game, this was accomplished during the 1979 season. They are also the first team since the merger to complete a winning season when starting 10 or more rookies, which happened in the 2010 season. In 1976 & 1977, The Buccaneers lost their first 26 games. After a brief winning era in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the team suffered through 14 consecutive losing seasons. Then, for a 10-year period, they were consistent playoff contenders and won Super Bowl XXXVII at the end of the 2002 season, but have not yet returned to the Super Bowl; thus the Bucs along with the New Orleans Saints and New York Jets are the only NFL teams to win their lone Super Bowl appearance.
The name "Tampa Bay" is often used to describe a geographic metropolitan area which encompasses the cities around the body of water known as Tampa Bay, including Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Bradenton and Sarasota. Unlike in the case of Green Bay, Wisconsin, there is no municipality known as "Tampa Bay". The "Tampa Bay" in the names of local professional sports franchises (Buccaneers, Rowdies, Rays, Lightning, Tampa Bay Storm, etc.) denotes that they represent the entire region, not just Tampa or St. Petersburg.
The Buccaneers joined the NFL as members of the AFC West in 1976. The following year, they were moved to the NFC Central, while the other 1976 expansion team, the Seattle Seahawks, switched conferences with Tampa Bay and joined the AFC West. This realignment was dictated by the league as part of the 1976 expansion plan, so that both teams could play each other twice and every other NFL franchise once during their first two seasons. Instead of a traditional division schedule of playing each division opponent twice, the Buccaneers played every conference team once, plus the Seahawks.
The Tampa Bay expansion franchise was originally awarded to Tom McCloskey, a construction company owner from Philadelphia. McCloskey soon entered a financial dispute with the NFL, so the league found a replacement in Hugh Culverhouse, a wealthy tax attorney from Jacksonville. Culverhouse's handshake deal to purchase the Los Angeles Rams from the estate of Dan Reeves was thwarted by Robert Irsay's purchase of the team, which he then traded to Carroll Rosenbloom in exchange for the Baltimore Colts, a complete trade of teams between two owners. Culverhouse had long been alleged to be in line for an expansion franchise through a settlement of his antitrust lawsuits in which he accused the owners of conspiracy to prevent his purchase of the Rams. A name-the-team contest resulted in the nickname "Buccaneers", a reference to the pirate legends of Southwest Florida. The team name was opposed by St. Petersburg businessmen on the grounds that it emphasized Tampa at the expense of other Bay Area cities, until NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle himself met with them to encourage their support. Their uniforms and "Bucco Bruce" winking pirate logo were designed by Tampa Tribune artist Lamar Sparkman, with colors drawn from the state's four major college teams: orange from the universities of Miami and Florida, and red from FSU and the University of Tampa. They were one of the few teams to wear white home uniforms, forcing opponents to wear their dark uniforms in Tampa's 90-degree fall heat. The team's first home was Tampa Stadium, which had recently been expanded to seat just over 72,500 fans. Steve Spurrier was the quarterback for Tampa Bay during their expansion season.
Tampa Bay did not win their first game until the 13th week of their second season, starting with a record of 0–26 (though the Bucs had beaten the Atlanta Falcons 17–3 in a 1976 pre-season game before their first regular season). Until the Detroit Lions in 2008, the 1976 Bucs held the dubious title as the least-winningest team in NFL history. Their losing streak caused them to become the butt of late-night television comedians' jokes. Their first win came in 1977 on the road against the New Orleans Saints. Saints Head Coach Hank Stram was fired after losing to the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay only needed one more week to get their second win, a home win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1977 season finale. The Cardinals also fired their coach, Don Coryell, shortly afterward. The team continued to improve in 1978, although injuries to several key players kept the team from achieving the winning record promised by McKay.
The Bucs' situation improved rapidly in 1979. With the maturation of quarterback Doug Williams and future 4-time Pro Bowl tight end Jimmie Giles, the first 1000-yard rushing season from running back Ricky Bell, and a smothering, league-leading defense led by future NFL Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon, the Bucs kicked off the season with five consecutive victories, a stunning performance that landed them on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
With four games left in the season, the Bucs needed to win only one of them to make the playoffs. In the first, STP was put all over the goal posts in Tampa to prevent the goalposts from being ripped down in the event of a celebration. Four blocked kicks later, the Bucs wasted the oily substance, falling to the Minnesota Vikings 23–22. STP was wasted again the following week as the Bucs were shut out 14–0 by the Chicago Bears, and in O. J. Simpson's final home game in San Francisco, Tampa Bay lost its third straight attempt to clinch a division title against a 49ers team which came in with a 1–13 record. However, in the season finale at home against the Kansas City Chiefs, which was played in the worst downpour in Bucs history, Tampa Bay pulled out a 3–0 victory. Finishing with a 10–6 record, the Bucs had their first winning season in franchise history, and also won the Central Division in a tiebreaker over the Chicago Bears. In an upset, the Bucs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24–17 in the divisional round of the playoffs. Because the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Dallas Cowboys in the other NFC playoff game, the Bucs hosted the NFC Championship Game the following week in Tampa. The Bucs lost to the Rams 9–0, thanks to great defense by the Rams. In their fourth season, the Bucs seemed on the verge of fulfilling McKay's five-year plan.
The Bucs made the playoffs again by winning their division in the 1981 season. The 1981 season came down to a thrilling final game at Detroit. The winner would take the Central Division crown and the loser would miss the playoffs. The Lions had not lost at home all season. Although the Bucs trailed early, an 84-yard touchdown bomb from QB Williams to WR Kevin House and a fumble recovery for a touchdown by DT David Logan sealed the shocking win for the Bucs. The Dallas Cowboys rewarded the Bucs' efforts with a 38–0 blowout in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The 1982 season started just as poorly for the Bucs, as they went 0–3 before a player's strike shut down the NFL for seven weeks. When the league resumed play, the Bucs were nicknamed the "Cardiac Kids" for winning five of their next six games all in the final moments to go 5–4 and qualify for the expanded playoff slate. In the first round, the Bucs once again faced the Cowboys at home in Dallas, but the Bucs put up a much better fight, leading the game at the half. Tampa Bay lost 30–17. As it turned out, this would be the last winning regular season under Culverhouse's ownership.
Before the 1983 season, Williams bolted to the United States Football League in a salary dispute. Without Williams, the Bucs were a rudderless team. They promptly bottomed out at 2–14, the first of 12 consecutive 10-loss seasons—an NFL record for futility. Included in their misery was the drafting of Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson with the first pick in the 1986 draft. Jackson had let it be known he'd never play a down for Tampa. Making good on his threat, he opted instead to play baseball for the Kansas City Royals. Jackson would later return for parts of football seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders. Along with Williams, who later was a Super Bowl champion QB for the Redskins, two other Buc quarterbacks during this era led other teams to Super Bowl wins. Steve Young won with the 49ers and Trent Dilfer won with the Ravens.
The Bucs' struggles were due in large part to how Culverhouse ran the team. Under Culverhouse, the Bucs were one of the NFL's more profitable teams during the 1980s. However, this was largely because he kept the payroll among the lowest in the league, hampering their ability to sign quality players. Attendance also sagged; at one point the Buccaneers went parts of three whole seasons without having a home game televised locally.
Despite the profitability of the Buccaneers in the 1980s, Culverhouse's death revealed a team close to bankruptcy, which surprised many observers. His son, Miami attorney Hugh Culverhouse, Jr., practically forced the trustees of his father's estate to sell the team, which cast doubt on the future of the franchise in Tampa. Interested parties included New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, the latter of whom publicly declared he would move the team to Baltimore, as the city did not have an NFL franchise at that time. However, in a last-minute surprise, Malcolm Glazer outbid both of them for $192 million, the highest sale price for a professional sports franchise up to that point. Glazer immediately placed his sons Bryan, Edward, and Joel in charge of the team's financial affairs, and the family's deep pockets and serious commitment to fielding a winning team finally allowed the Bucs to become competitive. The team's performance dramatically improved when the Glazers hired Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Tony Dungy as head coach, jettisoned the old uniform designs (see below), and convinced Hillsborough County voters to raise sales taxes to fund the construction of Raymond James Stadium.
During Dungy's first season in 1996, the team continued to struggle, starting the season 1–8. But in the second half of the season they finished 5–2, primarily due to the performance of a defense ranked seventh in the NFL led by Hardy Nickerson and the maturing of Wyche's draftees Brooks, Lynch, and Sapp. Dungy, with his even-tempered personality, quickly brought balance and morale to the team, and his Cover 2 defensive scheme, sharpened to perfection by defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and linebackers coach Lovie Smith, became the foundation for Tampa Bay's future success. Their version of Cover 2 was so successful that it became known as the Tampa 2. It has been brought to the Chicago Bears by Smith, Detroit Lions by Rod Marinelli, Kansas City Chiefs by Herman Edwards and to the Indianapolis Colts by Dungy himself, and copied by several other teams.
The team started the season 5–0, picking up where they left off the previous year, and this quick start once again landed them on the cover of Sports Illustrated twice. The Bucs went 10–6 for their first winning season and playoff appearance since 1982, as a wild-card team. In the Bucs' final home game at Houlihan's Stadium (formerly Tampa Stadium), the team defeated the Detroit Lions 20–10. They lost at Lambeau Field to the eventual NFC champion Green Bay Packers 21–7. Still, there was reason for optimism, and the expectations were high for the following season.
The 1998 season, the first to be played in the newly constructed Raymond James Stadium, saw the Bucs lose several close games en route to a disappointing 8–8 record. The Bucs had to play the first 6 football games of the year (including preseason) on the road as the new stadium was not quite finished.
The 1999 season brought much better fortune. On the strength of the NFL's number 3 overall defense and a surprising performance by rookie QB Shaun King, the Bucs finished the season with an 11–5 record and won their third NFC Central Division Championship. They beat the Washington Redskins 14–13 in the Divisional round, before losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion St. Louis Rams in an unusually low-scoring NFC Championship Game, 11–6. The Bucs' loss was controversial, highlighted by the unusual reversal of a pass from King to WR Bert Emanuel, which ended the Bucs' chances at continuing their last-minute drive for a possible win. In league meetings later that year, NFL later changed the rules regarding what constituted an incomplete pass, which was considered a backhanded admission that the reversal was incorrect.
While the Bucs played well in 2000 and 2001 and made the playoffs in each season, they were unable to fulfill their primary goal of a Super Bowl victory. The wild card spots that Tampa Bay earned forced them to go on the road for their postseason opener in each year, and unfortunately for the warm-weather team, both road games took them into frigid Philadelphia to play the Eagles. The two losses also continued an unusual losing streak for Tampa Bay: they remained winless all-time in games played when the temperature was less than 32°F (0°C).
2002: Super Bowl champions
Dungy was fired by the Buccaneers following a disappointing loss to the Philadelphia Eagles 31–9 in the Wildcard Round of 2001 and soon thereafter hired as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, while the Bucs mounted a prolonged and much-maligned search for his replacement. Several potential candidates were offered the job, including University of Florida head coach Steve Spurrier, former New York Giants head coach Bill Parcells, and Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis. Spurrier jumped to the Redskins when he was offered the most lucrative salary package ever offered to an NFL head coach, and Parcells eventually passed on the Bucs' offer—the second time he had done so in the history of the franchise. Bucs general manager Rich McKay threw his support behind Lewis. The Glazer brothers were so displeased with the selection of yet another defensive-minded coach that they overruled McKay and took control of the candidate search themselves. They made it clear that their top choice was Jon Gruden. The problem was that he was still under contract to the Oakland Raiders.
While talks with the Raiders were secretly under way, the Glazers publicly pursued another respected offensive mind, San Francisco 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci. Just when initial reports indicated that Mariucci had agreed to become both the Bucs' head coach and their general manager, Raiders owner Al Davis agreed to release Jon Gruden to Tampa Bay.
The Glazers' shrewd move eventually paid off in acquiring Gruden, but it was costly. The team hired Gruden away from the Raiders on February 20, 2002, but the price was four draft picks, including the Bucs' first and second round picks in 2002, their first round pick in 2003, and their second round selection in 2004, along with $8 million in cash; the league as a result prohibited any further trading of draft picks for coaches. Gruden was frustrated by the limitation of his coaching authority by Davis and was more than pleased to return to Tampa Bay. His parents lived in Carrollwood, and he had spent part of his childhood in Tampa in the early 1980s when his father was a running backs coach and later a scout for the Bucs.
Upon his arrival in Tampa, Gruden immediately went to work, retooling a sluggish offense. The league's sweeping realignment sent the Bucs to the new NFC South Division, along with the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints.
Led by the league's top defense, the 2002 campaign was the Buccaneers' most successful season to date. Linebacker Derrick Brooks was named the 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year with a tendency to make big plays. They won the NFC South title with the team's best ever record, 12–4, and went on to rout Gruden's former team, the Oakland Raiders who had the league's number 1 offense, by a score of 48–21 in Super Bowl XXXVII, nicknamed "The Pirate Bowl".
2003–2008: Period of peaks and valleys
Soon after the Super Bowl victory, a growing number of press reports indicated Gruden's lack of patience with general manager McKay. McKay was a major architect of the Bucs' rebuilding effort over the previous ten years, and he, like Gruden, had long-established ties to the Tampa Bay area. However, during the 2003 season, the Gruden-McKay relationship deteriorated as the Bucs struggled on the field. In November, Keyshawn Johnson was deactivated by the team ten games into the season for his conduct, which included sideline arguments with Bucs coaches and players. Johnson was eventually traded to the Dallas Cowboys for wide receiver Joey Galloway, who later in his career played for the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Washington Redskins.
In December, the Glazers allowed McKay to leave the Bucs before the end of the regular season, and he promptly joined the Falcons as president and general manager. Thus, McKay watched his first game as a Falcons executive sitting next to owner Arthur Blank in a Raymond James Stadium skybox. The Falcons defeated the Bucs 30–28. The Bucs suffered a sluggish start and finished the season 7–9. With the Raiders' dismal 4–12 performance, neither Super Bowl team reached the playoffs that year.
For 2004, Bruce Allen was hired as general manager. After Allen's arrival, both John Lynch and Warren Sapp were released, stunning many Buccaneer fans. The distracted Buccaneers began the 2004 season with a 1–5 record, their worst start under Gruden. The fading accuracy of kicker Martin Gramatica did not help matters, as the team lost many close games en route to a 5–11 record.
In the 2005 season, the Buccaneers celebrated their 30th season in the league, and returned to their winning ways. The Bucs selected Cadillac Williams in the first round of the 2005 draft, and the rookie would provide a running game the Buccaneers had not possessed since the days of James Wilder in the 1980s. Cadillac Williams would later go on to receive the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. After starting 5–1, the team entered a midseason slump hampered by a season-ending injury to starting QB Brian Griese. Replacement starter Chris Simms struggled early, but came into his own leading to the team to a last-minute win over the Redskins. The Bucs won the NFC South Division finishing 11–5. The season ended abruptly, however, with a 17–10 loss in the Wild Card round, in a rematch with the Redskins.
After winning the division in 2005, the Bucs suffered through an abysmal 2006 season. The season was plagued by injuries, with starters such as guard Dan Buenning, wide receiver Michael Clayton, running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, defensive end Simeon Rice, cornerback Brian Kelly, and quarterback Chris Simms all being placed on injured reserve at some point in the season. The season also saw a lot of rookies starting for the Bucs, such as quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, tackle Jeremy Trueblood, and guard Davin Joseph.
The Bucs started off the season 0–3, with QB Chris Simms throwing only 1 touchdown to 7 interceptions. In the third game of the season, a last-minute loss to the Panthers, Simms's spleen was ruptured, and he was placed on injured reserve for the balance of the season. After their bye week, the Bucs elected to start rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, a 6th-round pick from Toledo. After nearly beating the Saints, Gradkowski led the team to last-minute wins over the Bengals and Eagles. The success was short-lived, however, and the Bucs lost five of the next six games. Tim Rattay replaced Gradkowski as quarterback late in the season, and the team finished 4–12. The aged defense, with 5 starters who had played there for a decade or more, was ranked 17th overall, the first time a Tampa defense was not ranked in the top ten since 1996.
After a disappointing 4–12 effort in 2006, the Buccaneers for the first time in several seasons had money to spend in free agency. They brought in quarterback Jeff Garcia, offensive tackle Luke Petitgout, defensive end Kevin Carter, and linebacker Cato June. On April 28, the Buccaneers drafted Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams with the 4th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. After the draft the Buccaneers picked up tight end Jerramy Stevens and defensive tackle Ryan Sims.
The offseason changes resulted in the Buccaneers winning the NFC South title in the 2007 season, finishing with a 9–7 record, and the 4th seed in the NFC. The division crown was the second one in three seasons under Gruden. In the Wild Card round of the playoffs held on January 6, 2008, the Buccaneers lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants by a final score of 24–14.
During the 2008 offseason, the Bucs re-signed head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen through the 2011 season. They also acquired former players Warrick Dunn, who had spent the last 6 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, and Brian Griese who was the starting quarterback for the team in 2005 until a knee injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year. Chris Simms was finally released, having not played in a game since his injury in 2006. The Bucs got off to a great start in 2008, with a 9–3 record going into the final month of the season, tied for first place in the division, with a chance at the top seed in the conference. On December 2, it was announced that defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin would be leaving the team after the season's end, for the same job at the University of Tennessee, serving under his son Lane Kiffin, who had just been named the new head coach at the school. After the announcement, the Buccaneers would lose the final four games of the season to finish 9–7 for the second consecutive season. Unlike 2007, it was not enough to secure the division championship, nor a playoff appearance.
2009–2011: The Raheem Morris Era
In January 2009 the Buccaneers fired Jon Gruden and made Raheem Morris the head coach after having just named Morris the replacement of Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator. Bruce Allen was also let go, with Mark Dominik his successor as general manager. On February 25, the Bucs released veterans Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn, Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard, Jeff Garcia, and Cato June. They traded for tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. on February 27 for a 2nd round pick in the 2009 draft, and a 5th round draft pick in 2010. They signed running back Derrick Ward, from the New York Giants, to a four-year, $17 million contract. They signed quarterback Byron Leftwich to a two-year deal. They drafted Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman 17th overall in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. 2009 was one of the Bucs' worst years in recent memory. They started the season 0–7, behind veteran quarterback Byron Leftwich for the first three games, and Josh Johnson, who had never made an appearance in an NFL game prior to the season, for the next four. Following their bye week, Tampa Bay made another quarterback switch, this time to Josh Freeman. Freeman's first career start resulted in the team's first win of the season, a comeback win in which Freeman threw for two touchdown passes in the final quarter. Freeman remained the starting quarterback for the rest of the season, but the team won only two more games. Finishing 3–13, it was their worst record since 1991.
In 2010, the Buccaneers surprised everyone by producing the greatest single-season turnaround in franchise history, going 10–6. This was largely made possible by the breakout performances of second-year quarterback Josh Freeman, rookie receiver Mike Williams, and undrafted rookie running back LeGarrette Blount.
Freeman started all 16 games, throwing for 3,451 yards while completing 61.4% of his throws. He also had the ninth best TD/INT ratio in NFL history, throwing 25 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions. Williams, who was drafted by the Buccaneers in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, caught 65 receptions for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns. His 11 touchdowns were also a Buccaneers franchise record for all receivers. LeGarrette Blount rushed for 1,007 yards and 6 touchdowns, becoming only the second undrafted rookie in NFL history to break the 1,000 yard mark. He accomplished this despite not seeing significant playing time until Week 7.
On the one hand, they achieved double-digit wins just one season after finishing last in their division. On the other hand, they ended up outside the playoff race despite their 10 wins. They lost a close game against the non-playoff Detroit Lions which ended up hurting them in the end as they would have made the playoffs as a wild card in place of the eventual Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay Packers. The Buccaneers' schedule on their way to a 10-win season was also under debate, as their combined opponent win percentage was 0.477, good for 11th easiest in the league that season. This was partly a result of playing the entirety of the NFC West, which had a combined record of 25–39 and whose division winner, the Seattle Seahawks, ended their own season with a losing record of 7–9. In comparison, the Cincinnati Bengals, who had the toughest 2010 schedule, had a combined opponent win percentage of 0.582.
The Buccaneers would begin the 2011 season with high hopes after adding several key defensive players through the draft. After a 4–2 start however, the Buccaneers, would collapse by losing 10 games in a row and finishing the season 4–12. Quarterback Josh Freeman would go onto have his worst statistical year since being drafted and the Buccaneers defensive squad would struggle due to several mediocre performances and a variety of injuries/losses of key players such as defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, linebacker Quincy Black, in addition to safeties Cody Grimm and Tanard Jackson.
2012: "The Buccaneer Way"
Almost three weeks after letting go of Raheem Morris, the Buccaneers announced the hiring of Rutgers's Greg Schiano as their new Head Coach. Thanks to his introductory conference in which he stated "There will be Buccaneer men, and there will be a Buccaneer Way", the phrase "The Buccaneer Way" has become almost a slogan among fans and the local media for his new tenure as head coach of the team.
A few weeks later, the Buccaneers brought along New York Giants quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan to fill-in their offensive coordinator position, Bill Sheridan (who also coached for the Giants in 2010) as their defensive coordinator and long-time friend of Schiano dating back to his days with the University of Miami, University of North Carolina's ex-head coach Butch Davis to fulfill the role of main advisor to the head coach.
In the first day of the NFL Free Agency period, the Buccaneers signed two out of the top 3 free agents available: WR Vincent Jackson, G Carl Nicks and alongside them, CB Eric Wright. The total of $140 million dollars committed to the team during that 24-hour period is considered the largest investment the Glazer family has put into the team going back almost a decade.
The Buccaneers would finish the 2012 season with a 7–9 record. Notably, the Buccaneers finished first against the run in the NFL and had three pro-bowlers, WR Vincent Jackson, DT Gerald McCoy and RB Doug Martin.
In 1975, the Buccaneers built a small practice complex with offices near Tampa International Airport called One Buccaneer Place. As other NFL teams upgraded their facilities, Bucs players and coaches stepped up their complaints about the aircraft noise, cramped offices, small locker rooms and run-down condition of One Buc Place. Even then-head coach Jon Gruden has sarcastically referred to the facility as "The Woodshed." For much of the team's existence, the Bucs held training camp on the University of Tampa campus, then at the expansive and better-equipped Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando (2002—2008).
In August 2006, the Bucs unveiled their new training facility. Conveniently located across the street from Raymond James Stadium (on the former site of Tampa Bay Center), this state-of-the-art complex (145,000-square-foot (13,500 m2) facility on 33 acres (13 ha)) is the largest in the NFL. Its features include offices and meeting rooms, two natural grass practice fields, a theatre for meetings and press conferences, an expanded weight room, a fully equipped kitchen and dining room, a rehabilitation center with three separate pools and a locker room twice the size of the former location. The building is capped off with a giant five-story glass and steel football as a key design element. A third practice field, featuring artificial turf, was also planned. In 2009, the team began holding training camp at the new upgraded facilities in Tampa.
In the second week of September 2007, statues of important figures from the Bucs 2002 Championship season were moved into the lobby area in an exhibit called "Moment of Victory". The life-size statues included players Mike Alstott, Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks, Brad Johnson, John Lynch, Shelton Quarles, Simeon Rice, Warren Sapp, and head coach Jon Gruden. The statues are modeled after images from the sideline towards the end of Super Bowl XXXVII.
Practices at the currently unnamed facility will remain closed to the public, although the existing mall parking on the west side of the property is still available for use on game days. The facility is still referred to as One Buc Place, or sometimes by local media as One Buc Palace.
Logos and uniforms
When the team began play in 1976, Culverhouse initially picked team colors of red, green, orange and white. However, the shade of green was too close to that used by the Miami Dolphins. A medium shade of "Florida Orange" was substituted for green. Home uniforms included orange jerseys with white numerals outlined in red—the now-infamous "Creamsicle" uniforms. Road white jerseys originally had orange numerals outlined in red, but these colors were reversed for year two and beyond. The color swap provided better visibility, especially for television coverage purposes.
Long-time Tampa Tribune cartoonist and Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla member Lamar Sparkman designed the first team logo. Faced with the difficulty of designing a logo that did not closely resemble that of the other "pirates" in the league, the Oakland Raiders, Sparkman came up with a pirate in a plumed hat and a dagger in his mouth. The pirate appeared to be winking. He came to be known as "Bruce the Buccaneer" or "Buccaneer Bruce" (sometime shortened to "Bucco Bruce"). Sports writer and commentator Nick Bakay once said that Buccaneer Bruce was a pirate who "struck fear in the hearts of no one."
However, there was controversy over where the cartoonist received inspiration for his Buccaneer. Beloit College, located in Beloit, Wisconsin, received a notice from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the college's illegitimate use of their mascot. Beloit College's buccaneer is the mirror image of the Tampa Bay buccaneer, with the creamsicle colors replaced with Beloit's school colors. Athletic Director Ed DeGeorge said Beloit's Buccaneers have used the logo since the early 1980s, when he chose it from a book while ordering decals for the football team's helmets. The NFL's Buccaneers joined the league in 1976. However, the Buccaneers withdrew their claim against Beloit College because of the independent decision to redesign the logo.
In 1992, the Buccaneers introduced orange pants to be worn with the white jerseys. Prior to the team's season finale in 1995 against the Lions, lame-duck coach Sam Wyche suggested that the Buccaneers wear the orange pants with their orange jerseys. The idea was vetoed by, among others, Pro Bowl linebacker Hardy Nickerson.
For the 1993 season, the Buccaneers added a commemorative patch to the right sleeve of their orange, away uniforms, which read, "Mr C" in cursive script.
For the 1997 season, the Glazers worked with the NFL to develop a more marketable and intimidating look in order to improve the team's image. The Buccaneers changed their team colors to red, pewter, black and orange. "Bucco Bruce" was replaced by a red flag displaying a white pirate skull and crossed sabres which is a modified Jolly Roger (similar to that of Calico Jack). The flag was mounted on another sabre. The "Buccaneers" team name was written in a new font, Totally Gothic, and was either red with shadows of pewter or red and white. Orange pinstriping, and an orange football, was used to maintain a visual link to the former colors. Chris Berman nicknamed them "the pirates in pewter pants," a play on the Gilbert and Sullivan opera The Pirates of Penzance. The Buccaneers planned to stage a ceremony in which Bruce was to walk the plank of a pirate ship in Tampa Bay, but he was pardoned at the last minute by Governor Lawton Chiles.
The new uniforms were adopted while Raymond James Stadium was still under construction, and the new colors would be prominent at the new facility. This new color scheme closely resembled that of the Tampa Bay Bandits, the USFL team that played in the region from 1983 to 1985 and had a color scheme of red, silver, black and white.
The new uniforms provided a combination of either red or white jerseys with either pewter or white pants. The red-on-white combination has been used sparingly, but was brought back for a SNF home game against the Seattle Seahawks in 2008; and it was worn again for a home game against the New Orleans Saints in 2009. In 2010, the Buccaneers wore the white pants primarily with both the red and white jerseys, but have since reverted to pewter pants with both jerseys under current head coach Greg Schaino.
In 2003, the Buccaneers introduced a practice jersey that featured orange piping. In 2004, a pewter practice jersey was used, with numerals in the Totally Gothic font.
Like many other NFL teams located in subtropical climates, the Buccaneers traditionally wear their white road jerseys at home during the first half of the season — forcing opponents to suffer in their darker colors during the hot summers and autumns in Tampa. Additionally, the visitors' bench of Raymond James Stadium is located on the east side of the stadium, which is in direct sunlight for 1 p.m. eastern games. The west sideline is in the shade. In the 1980s and in 1996, the last year of the original uniforms, the Bucs generally wore white at home for the entire season including preseason. Since the new uniforms were adopted, the Bucs wear the red jerseys for the final four home games, and for nearly all night home games. In the preseason, the Bucs typically wear white for one of their two home games. The Bucs have worn their red jerseys for all home postseason games except for a January 6, 2008 playoff match against the New York Giants, where the Bucs wore white, as the temperature that day was unseasonably high.
The Buccaneers' 1997 uniform change prompted a 2003 lawsuit by the Raiders, who claimed that the NFL and the Buccaneers had infringed upon key trademark elements of the Raiders' brand, including the Raiders' pirate logo. In the same suit, the Raiders challenged the Carolina Panthers' color scheme, which included silver and black. The Raiders wanted the courts to bar the Buccaneers and Panthers from wearing their uniforms while playing in California. However, since the lawsuit was filed in a state California court, the lawsuit was tossed out because only federal courts have jurisdiction on intellectual property issues.
Following the uniform change in 1997, the Buccaneers did not wear the old uniform, even during popular league-sponsored "throwback" weekends. Team merchandise in the old color scheme was also eliminated for several years. In 2008, the team revealed that they would be wearing the orange throwback uniforms for at least one game in the 2009 season. Their use was in conjunction with the creation of a Buccaneers Ring of Honor, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the 1979 division championship team.
Throwback merchandise went on sale in the summer of 2009, and referred to the orange color, not as "Florida Orange," but as "Orange Glaze." Considerable research was done using photographs and old uniforms to match the original color schemes. The dagger-biting pirate was given a cleaned-up look, and the orange, red and white uniforms debuted against the Green Bay Packers (Tampa Bay's former division rival) on November 8, 2009. Raymond James Stadium was also transformed via orange banners and classic field logos and fonts back to the classic Tampa Stadium look of the late 1970s. The Buccaneers won their first throwback game (their first victory of 2009) behind rookie quarterback Josh Freeman's first-career NFL start. The single throwback uniform game has since become an annual tradition.
Throughout their history, the Buccaneers have been known for their suffocating defense. It started with the drafting of Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon with their first pick ever in 1976. 3 Bucs have won the AP Defensive Player of the Year award, and they have led the league in total defense 3 times. Both of the Buccaneers Pro Football Hall of Famers are defensive players.
Led by Selmon, Linebackers Dewey Selmon, Richard Wood, Dave Lewis, and Mike Washington, Mark Cotney, and Cedric Brown in the secondary, the early years Buccaneers quickly earned an identity as a defensive team. Their 3-4 defense peaked in 1979 when they led the league in total defense, points allowed, and first downs allowed. Lee Roy Selmon was voted NFL Defensive Player of the Year, but they eventually fell 10 points short of the Super Bowl as the offense held them back in the NFC Championship game in a 9-0 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
1997-2008 The "Tampa 2"
By drafting franchise cornerstones John Lynch in 1993, and Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks in 1995 to go along with All-Pro linebacker Hardy Nickerson, followed by the hiring of innovative defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin in 1996, the Buccaneers set the stage for one of the greatest defensive runs in NFL history. From 1997 to 2008, the Buccaneers defense finished in the league's top 10 every year but one, including 8 top 5 finishes, and 2 top ranked finishes. Kiffin along with Head Coach Tony Dungy created the "Tampa 2" defense known for its simple format, speed, and the aggressive mentality of its players. Kiffin's defenses were known as gang tacklers with tremendous team speed with a front 4 that could pressure the quarterback consistently, fast sideline to sideline linebackers, and a hard hitting secondary that caused turnovers. Many teams have copied the Tampa 2, but none have come close to the success of the Buccaneers as the the Buccaneers had either current or future Hall of Fame players in Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Ronde Barber, and Simeon Rice performing as well as pro bowl players Hardy Nickerson, Donnie Abraham, and others.
The 2002 Buccaneers defense is widely regarded as one of the greatest defenses in NFL history, rivaled only by the 2000 Ravens, 1985 Bears, 1976 Steelers, and few others. In the regular season the Buccaneers led the league in Total Defense (252.8 ypg), Points Allowed (196), First Downs Allowed (14.8 pg), Passing (155.6 ypg), Interceptions (31), Interception Touchdowns (5), opponent QB Rating (48.4), and Shutouts (2), as well as finishing 3rd in Opponent Rushing YPC (3.8), and 6th in Sacks (43). Linebacker Derrick Brooks was awarded AP Defensive Player of the Year as the defense led the way to a 12-4 regular season. As dominant as they were, they were even better in the postseason allowing only 37 points in 3 games combined all against top 10 offenses. In those 3 games, they intercepted 9 passes returning 4 for touchdowns and collected 11 sacks.
In Super Bowl XXXVII, the Buccaneers delivered one of the most dominant defensive performances in Super Bowl history. Playing against the #1 offense in the league led by league MVP Rich Gannon, the defense actually outscored the Raiders offense limiting them to only 2 offensive touchdowns while returning 3 interceptions back for touchdowns. The defense set 2 records in the 48-21 blowout, one for most interceptions in a Super Bowl with 5, and one for most interceptions returned for touchdowns in a Super Bowl with 3. In 19 total games in 2002, the Buccaneers recorded 40 interceptions, 53 sacks, and 9 defensive touchdowns.
Facts and records
The expansion Buccaneers lost all 14 games during the 1976 regular season, and the first 12 games of the 1977 season, for a record 26 straight losses. Even after the season expanded to 16 games in 1978, they remained the only NFL team in the modern era to experience a winless season until the Detroit Lions went 0–16 in 2008. A twenty-game road losing streak against AFC teams finally ended with a 17–10 victory over the Denver Broncos on December 26, 1993. In 1980, after beating the Bengals at Riverfront Stadium, the Buccaneers began a 27-game losing streak of games played outdoors on AstroTurf. The streak was broken in 1995, with a victory over the Eagles at Veterans Stadium. From their inception, they lost 20 consecutive games in which the temperature at kickoff was below 40 °F (4 °C). The streak ended in the final week of the 2002 regular season, when they beat the Bears at Champaign (Soldier Field was under renovation at the time).
- Matt Bryant's 62-yard, game-winning field goal against the Eagles in 2006 was the second-longest game-winning field goal in NFL history. The NFL record is 63 yards.
- The Buccaneers are the first post-merger expansion team to win a division title, win a playoff game, and to host and play in a conference championship game. This was accomplished during the 1979 season.
- They are the first team since the merger to complete a winning season when starting 10 or more rookies, which happened in the 2010 season.
- Until December 16, 2007, the Buccaneers were the only NFL team to have never returned a kick-off for a touchdown during the regular season. This distinction ended when Micheal Spurlock returned the 1,865th try 90 yards for the score during the week 15 game against the Atlanta Falcons.
- The Buccaneers hold several distinctive NFL defensive streaks set during a period from 1999–2003.
- A record 69 consecutive games with at least one sack. The record (previously 68 by Dallas) was broken on November 9, 2003 against Carolina. The streak ended the following week on November 16, 2003 against Green Bay.
- 50 consecutive games with at least one sack and one forced turnover. The streak ended on November 16, 2003 against Green Bay.
- 54 consecutive games with at least one forced turnover (interception or forced fumble). The streak ended December 14, 2003 against the Texans. The all-time record was 71 consecutive games by the Eagles.
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers retired numbers|
|63||Lee Roy Selmon||DE||1976–1984|
|99||Warren Sapp ||DT||1995–2003|
Pro Football Hall of Famers
Tampa Stadium Krewe of Honor
In 1991, the organization initiated the "Krewe of Honor," which featured a mural of the first class of four members. No additional members were added before Tampa Stadium was closed and demolished.
Ring of Honor
- 2009: Lee Roy Selmon (30th anniversary of the 1979 team)
- 2010: John McKay
- 2011: Jimmie Giles
- 2012: Paul Gruber (15th anniversary of the 1997 team)
- 2013: Warren Sapp
Many former and current Tampa Bay Buccaneer players have represented the franchise in the Pro Bowl:
All-time first-round draft picks
Coaches of note
|John McKay||1976–1984||45–91–1 (.332)||1979, 1981||1982||1979 (vs. L.A. Rams)|
|Leeman Bennett||1985–1986||4–28–0 (.125)|
|Ray Perkins||1987–1990||19–41–0 (.317)|
|Richard Williamson||1990–1991||4–15–0 (.211)|
|Sam Wyche||1992–1995||23–41–0 (.354)|
|Tony Dungy||1996–2001||56–46–0 (.549)||1999||1997, 2000, 2001||1999 (at St. Louis Rams)|
|Jon Gruden||2002–2008||60–57–0 (.513)||2002, 2005, 2007||2002 (at Eagles)||2002||XXXVII (vs. Raiders)|
|Raheem Morris||2009–2011||17–31–0 (.354)|
|Greg Schiano||2012–present||7-9-0 (.438)|
Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff
Special Teams Coaches
Strength and Conditioning
The Bucs created an official cheerleading squad in their first season, called the "Swash-Buc-Lers." In 1999, they were renamed as the "Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders."
Radio and television
The Buccaneers' current flagship radio stations are WFUS 103.5 FM and WDAE 620 AM. The play-by-play announcer since 1989 has been Gene Deckerhoff. Former Bucs tight end Dave Moore joined Deckerhoff as analyst for the 2007 season. T. J. Rives works as the sideline reporter.
Broadcast legend and former Green Bay Packers' announcer Ray Scott was the play-by-play man for the Bucs' inaugural season of 1976, and from 1977 to 1988 Mark Champion, who became the voice of the Detroit Lions (1989–2004) and now the Detroit Pistons (2001–present), held that position with the Bucs.
Former Buccaneer Hardy Nickerson served as color commentator for one season in 2006, until he signed with the Bears as a linebackers coach on February 23, 2007. Nickerson had replaced Scot Brantley, who was the commentator from 1999 through 2005. Jesse Ventura, the famous professional wrestler, actor, and former governor of Minnesota, was Deckerhoff's partner on the Bucs radio broadcasts for one year, 1990, and former Buc David Logan held that position after Ventura until his death after the 1998 season. Dave Kocerek and Fran Curci were also color commentors for the Buccaneers during their earlier years.
Ronnie Lane previously worked as a sideline reporter.
While regular season and post-season games in the NFL are all broadcast by national television contracts on CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and NFL Network, the television broadcasts are for the most part handled by the individual teams. Effective with the 2011 season, preseason games not picked up for national broadcast are seen on WTSP Channel 10. WFTV Channel 9 simulcasts the broadcast in the Orlando area.
CBS, Fox and NBC games are shown respectively in Tampa Bay on WTSP, WTVT channel 13 and WFLA Channel 8, while they are shown respectively in Orlando on WKMG, WOFL and WESH. Monday Night Football games are simulcast locally on WFTS. Previously, NFL Network games were seen locally on WFLA-TV.
WFLA was the previous home to Buccaneer preseason games, where they have been televised from 2003 to 2010. At WFLA, Chris Myers was the play-by-play announcer with John Lynch as color commentator. Both Myers and Lynch work nationally with Fox Sports. Ron Jaworski previously served as color commentator, until he signed with MNF for 2007. Charles Davis also served as color commentator from 2007 to 2008.
WTOG channel 44 also previously broadcasted Buccaneer preseason games for many years, ending in 2002. Former CBS play-by-play and ESPN golf broadcaster Jim Kelly was the play-by-play announcer for many of those games in the 1980s, and Joe Namath was a commentator.
In the early years of the franchise, WTVT, then a CBS affiliate, broadcast some Buccaneer preseason games. Sports anchor Andy Hardy handled the play-by-play, and for one game in 1978, his broadcast partner was his friend, Florida State alumni and movie actor Burt Reynolds.
Notes and references
- Mizell, Hubert. "Economics chase McCloskey out". St. Petersburg Times. 6 December 1974
- Zier, Patrick, and Bill Clark. "Bucs' Ownership Part Of Settlement?". The Lakeland Ledger. 2 Feb 1976
- Awosika, Mary, and Mark Zaloude. "Pirate State (of mind); When bad boys make for good fun: Pirates have shed their villainous image in Florida". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 3 February 2003
- Martz, Ron. "Red carpet treatment for Bay Bucs". St. Petersburg Times. 25 Apr 1975
- Gurney, Jack. "Tampa Bay Bucs Announce Colors: Orange-Red-White". The Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 15 Jun 1975
- Underwood, John. "A Three-hour Time Difference". Sports Illustrated. 23 August 1976
- Bishop, Greg. "Bucs Who Went 0 for the Season Do Not Want a Repeat". The New York Times. 2 December 2007
- Litsky, Frank. "John McKay, U.S.C. and Buccaneers Coach, Dies at 77". The New York Times. 11 June 2001
- Martz, Ron. Tampa Bay traded their number one draft pick in the 1978 draft to Houston for Jimmy Giles, and a few other picks; one of which was used to pick Doug Williams. "McKay's one-word summary of '78 season: frustration". St. Petersburg Times. 19 December 1978
- SI.com – Sports Illustrated Covers – October 1, 1979
- SI.com – Sports Illustrated Covers – January 7, 1980
- SI.com – Sports Illustrated Covers – September 8, 1997
- SI.com – September 29, 1997
- Mills, Roger. "It will feel like coming home for Gruden". St. Petersburg Times. 19 February 2002
- Bucs release Brooks, Dunn, Galloway, Hilliard, June
- Roy Cummings (January 8, 2011). "Bucs reward Morris for turnaround season". Tampa Tribune. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
- Sun, Sept 94:25 PM ET (1988-01-13). "Josh Freeman Stats, News, Videos, Highlights, Pictures, Bio - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
- Rick Stroud (January 3, 2011). "Freeman's season 9th all-time in TD/INT ratio; Dominik: "He is a franchise quarterback"". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
- Sun, Sept 94:25 PM ET (1987-05-18). "Mike Williams Stats, News, Videos, Highlights, Pictures, Bio - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
- "On the Record". Tampa Bay Buccaneers. January 17, 2011. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
- Sun, Sept 94:25 PM ET (1986-12-05). "LeGarrette Blount Stats, News, Videos, Highlights, Pictures, Bio - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
- Brian P (January 3, 2011). "Winning the Games You're Scheduled to Play". Retrieved November 14, 2011.
- "2010 NFL Preseason Divisional Standings - National Football League - ESPN". Espn.go.com. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
- Bucs: Bucs' moment of victory is permanently set
- Gershman, Rick. "101 Gasparilla". St. Petersburg Times. 28 January 2005
- "Beloit College Buccaneers". MASCOTdb.com. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
- "Sports | Beloit College: A Logo Pirateer? | Seattle Times Newspaper". Community.seattletimes.nwsource.com. 1997-01-09. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
- Jake Jahimiak (May 2010). "Collecting game-worn Buccaneer jerseys". Bucpower.com. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- Sports: Bucs free to use pirate logo after Raiders suit is tossed
- Bucs to create Ring of Honor, wear orange uniforms in 2009
- The Color of Victory!
- Fred Goodall (December 26, 2010). "Bucs go Seahawk hunting, win 38–15". Fox Sports Florida. Associated Press. Retrieved December 27, 2010.
- "Surprise! Buccaneers to Retire Number 99" at Buccaneers website, 2 May 2013
- Werder, Ed (1991-12-05). "Tampa Initiates Krewe Of Honor". Tampa Bay (Orlando Sentinel). Retrieved 2011-11-17.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers Take Selmon for Their Ring of Honor
- Buccaneers.com | Cheerleaders
- St. Petersburg Times: "WTSP-Ch. 10 to air Tampa Bay Buccaneers preseason games, as rival WFLA-Ch. 8's Pewter Partnership ends", July 26, 2011.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Official Web Site
- Buccaneers team history page Pro Football Hall of Fame
- 1976 NFL expansion history page Pro Football Hall of Fame
- "Tampa Bay Buccaneers Historical Moments" E-Cyclopedia.com
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New England Patriots
2003 and 2004