While we gear up for the draft which is sure to cause 19587 to the 3rd power more interest than Free Agency, I thought a little diversion is in order. Your thoughts in the comments are welcomed if you can correct me and replace someone I have nominated as a better candidate in his position.
I take into effect not only stats, but how they played the game. Size, speed is of no concern, because players from 2009 would obliterate those from 1979 in sheer size. The Bucs offensive line in 1979 was considered one of the better ones, yet its the size of the average NCAA O-line today.
No Bucs fans, this list is made up of the best of the best in each position. At time when there is simply a need, a reserve is allowed because two players from different eras simply cannot be left off the list.
And so I bring you, the ALL TIME, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team:
QB- Doug Williams- Forget being a trend setter by being the first full time African-American starter at the position, Williams had a canon arm, and a physique that wouldnt go down. He was sacked less than ten times in 1979 for example. The knock on Doug was his low completion percentage, but you have to remember, he played in a day that predawned the West Coast Offense. Doug would heave the ball rather than take a sack, and take the hit on the stat sheet. He threw a TD by the seat of his pants, and a flick of his wrist would shoot the ball downfield over 50 yards. No Bucs QB has been to as many Playoff games, and when he left in 1983 after 3 of 4 playoff years, the Bucs didnt go back to the dance until 1997.
FB- Mike Alstott- What can you say about the A train, he bulled you over, and when you thought he was going to do it again, he side-stepped you! Mike was an instant success in the NFL and in Tampa, when the Bucs were a laughing stock for being soft, he was the tough guy you couldn't make fun of. He could catch the ball out of the backfield, or get you that first down on 3rd and 2. Alstott played the FB position, but really didnt learn to block as well as the best until the later days of his career. He was pretty much a hybrid at the position, but it earned him multiple trips to the pro-bowl, and even more highlight reel clips on ESPN, as Chris Berman would say, "your in good hands with Alstott".
TB-James Wilder- "Born to Run" would blast over the Tampa Stadium loudspeaker when he would get the ball, and get the ball he did. In 1984 Wilder was a handful of yards shy of the NFL single season all purpose yardage record. He currently holds the Bucs record for most yards in a season with 1,544, and followed that up with 1,300 in 1985. He did that last year with a 2-14 Bucs team that was out of most games by halftime, when defenses knew he was going to get the ball.
Tight End- Jimmy Giles- Number 88 had it all as a Tight End, Size, Strength, Speed, and a pair of hands that would catch even Doug Williams bullets. The big man has 34 TDs and averaged 15.4 yards per catch; as a Tight End. On his watch, Ricky Bell and James Wilder both rushed for over 1,000 yards too. Since 1976, only two other players have more receiving yards than Jimmy Giles, the Bucs best TE ever.
Wide Receiver-(Opps, thanks for pointing out the oversight!)- Mark Carrier- Was the only receiver to ever have more than 200 yards in a game until Antonio Bryant did it in 2008; however Carrier's 215 is still the record. Only Wilder has more receptions, and while his lead is oh so slight over Kevin House in yardage, he did that with one less season, He played his entire career with Vinny Testeverde too.
Kevin House- Averaging a full 2 yards per catch more than Carrier, the Bucs had average receivers until House came to the team in 1980. The blazing speed was a perfect match for Doug Williams' canon arm. In 1981 House scored 3 TDs of 70 yards or more. Honorable Mention: Joey Galloway- The only WR ever in Bucs history to have 3 back to back to back 1,000 yard Seasons (2005-07) and was the primary deep threat during this time. Keyshawn Johnson was the first Bucs WR in a long time that gave the offense an identity of which the defense had for many years with their stars.
Left Tackle- Paul Gruber- Drafted during the low days of Buccaneers history, he suffered on many poor Bucs teams, and never received the adulation he would have had he been on a better team or bigger market. But Gruber stood up tall against some of the best Defensive Ends in the business, and time and time again performed at an exceptional level. Gruber started 183 Bucs games in a row, surpassed only by this list's outside linebacker, one No. 55. Gruber got to taste a bit of winning, being on the 1997 and 99 playoff squads, but broke his leg in the season finale in '99, he appeared as Captain in crutches on the floor of the NFC Championship game, his farewell appearance in either Orange or Pewter.
Left Guard- George Yarno- 1979-83/85-87- Yarno has one unique place in Bucs history: in the 1983 season finale, HC John McKay was so fed up with his placekicker, that he send Yarno out to kick the Extra Point of the final TD scored in the game. He straight kicked it through, and then was mugged by his OL team-mates. Honorable Mention: Frank Middleton.
Center- Tony Mayberry- In 1999, the Bucs had only seen 3 centers in the past 22 years. Mayberry held the position throughout the 90s starting 145 games in a row, having only been passed by Ronde Barber in recent history. Honorable Mention: Randy Grimes and Steve Wilson.
Right Guard- Ian Beckles- A stalwart on the right side of the line next to Mayberry, A very good pulling guard, Beckles helped solidify the middle of the Bucs line during the 90s. Honorable Mention: Sean Farrell: 1982-1986
Right Tackle- Charlie Hannah- Brother to famous O-lineman John Hannah, HC John McKay used to love to take guys and move them to the other side of the ball. Hannah was a defensive end. He started most of 1978 as RE opposite LeeRoy Selmon. Then in 1979 he started as the Left Tackle, and never looked back. He dominated from the get-go, and teamed with rookie Greg Roberts, Hannah helped pave the way for Ricky Bell and the 1979 NFC Championship team.
Place Kicker- Matt Bryant- if his 83% successful career FGs made doesnt impress you, his perfection (100%) of FGs in the 30-39 range should. The only knock on Bryant was his deep kicks, going only 2 of 10 in 50+ kicks, but he makes up for that with the second longest kick for a game winner in NFL history in 2006 with his 62 yard kick. Honorable Mention: Steve Christie: who was able to go 9/11 from 40+, was a plan B free agent casualty that Sam Wyche left unprotected because he gave his word he would not leave.
Punt Returner- Karl The Truth Williams
Kick Returner- TIE- Michael Spurlock, Clifton Smith