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Chiefs-Buccaneers: Paul Gruber to be inducted into Ring of Honor

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J. Meric - Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will honor their fourth inductee into the Ring of Honor. After John McKay, Lee Roy Selmon and Jimmie Giles, former offensive tackle Paul Gruber will enter the Ring of Honor today. Gruber started at left tackle for an incredible 12 consecutive seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, yet earned little national recognition during that time.

Gruber didn't enter the league as an unknown player. The Bucs selected him with the fourth overall draft pick in 1988, and he lived up to that status during his career. As Tampa Bay lost game after game, Gruber did his job: he was an outstanding pass protector, and a devastating run blocker. He anchored an offensive line that went through many changes, and an offense that went through many more.

Over his career, the Bucs won few games. But he was there for the end of the creamsicle era and the start of the pewter era. As the Bucs shed off their hideous past and turned toward a Super Bowl win, Gruber continued to start at left tackle. Yet in the biggest game of his life, the 1999 NFC Championship game, he couldn't play because of a broken leg. Without him, the Bucs fell five points short of a Super Bowl berth, and Gruber retired in the following offseason. Could he have made the difference against the Rams? We'll never know.

But today, Gruber finally gets some of the recognition he deserves. 12 seasons of quality play, an amazing 183 starts and one of the most reliable players in Buccaneers history. He enters the Ring of Honor today.