Editor's Note: This was an article Niko wrote, that I had to copy and paste into a new article. It's showing up under my name, but credit goes to him.
He came here when 'Here' was a joke; a third world country as a famous defensive tackle likes to say. He came here when we had too many Keith McCants, and not enough Santana Dotsons. Too many Milton Macks, and not enough Ricky Reynolds. He is the guy a little green man would have been brought to if he landed at the old One Buc Place.
You know..."take me to your leader?"
Hardy Nickerson came, he saw, and he passed on the torch, he just passed it to the wrong position. For 7 years Hardy was the heart and soul of this defense, and not just because of the position he played. Hardy was the Mike, or middle linebacker. The position is the quarterback of the D, the one that calls out the signals, Points out the protections. Just so happens sometimes in Bucs history, the Mike linebacker is also the emotional leader on the club too!
Derrick Brooks took that role when the Bucs did not bring Hardy back after the 1999 season. Brooks played the week side, and a couple of different players assumed the role of the Mike LB; Jamie Duncan, Mike Webster, all preformed well. That is until Jon Gruden took over and recommended (before I start a flame war that smokey the bear would be proud of, the information was confirmed during a Monte Kiffin interview) Shelton Quarles move to middle linebacker, that he was made for the role on the field.
By 2007 Quarles was released by the Buccaneers, and Barrett Ruud was put in the spotlight. He performed like a champ. With Brooks getting let go this offseason, it created a void that Ruud must now step in. And whether he is capable of handling the responsibilities of being a team leader, Barret Ruud is the guy who the young new generation of Bucs heroes will turn to for answers. The Talibs, Macks, and Millers, will all look to Ruud for guidance. And once again, the leader of the Bucs is in the Middle Linebacker!
Probably no surprise..most quarterbacks are Captains of their teams. It takes leaders to lead. But with this new generation of Bucs, we can look back and see a progression of Men who wore the uniform proudly, rose up to the call of duty, and sounded off when needed to do so as to keep the team in line.