As a lifelong Buccaneers fan, I love the Ring of Honor inside Raymond James Stadium. Seeing the names of the franchise’s greatest players and coaches up there is something I enjoy. It’s nostalgia at its best.
Granted, I’ve only been alive since 1998. So, I didn’t get the pleasure of watching Lee Roy Selmon, John McKay, Jimmie Giles, Paul Gruber or Doug Williams. I didn’t see the early years of Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Mike Alstott, John Lynch or Ronde Barber. But I did get to watch those guys light it up for the Bucs when I was first falling in love with football. Regardless, it’s all nostalgia. If it’s nostalgia for me as a 21-year-old, I can’t imagine the emotions and memories that come with the Ring of Honor for those that have been around for much longer than myself.
Seeing so many from the 2002 Super Bowl team get inducted in the last few years has been fun. But with Barber getting his name up there this year, who’s left? What’s the future of the Ring of Honor going to look like? The more I think about it, the more I realize that there aren’t all that many worthy candidates left.
I’ve made my feelings known on James Wilder needing his honors soon. Hardy Nickerson is another one that should get his as well. But after that, where do we go? Simeon Rice could be a fringe guy, but beyond that, the Bucs run the risk of being overly inclusive. The distinction gets cheapened if the organization gets to a point of simply selecting guys because they need someone for a given year. There just aren’t enough legends in the franchise’s history to do that.
Have the Bucs had some very good players? Of course. But the Ring of Honor should be exclusive. When Lee Roy Selmon was the first man inducted back in 2009, the bar was set high.
There have been plenty of good players in Tampa Bay’s history. But there isn’t an infinite number of Ring of Honor types. Even on the current roster, there are some very good players. Lavonte David has been very good throughout his career, but I don’t see him as a Ring of Honor guy. Gerald McCoy has been great at times and just good at others, and with the way his time with the organization is about to end, he doesn’t seem like a candidate either.
The only current Buc that seems on track for Ring of Honor glory in the future is Mike Evans. He already owns a number of the franchise’s receiving records, and he’ll get more. But beyond him, who else is there on this roster?
This can go one of two ways. The Bucs can treat the Ring of Honor as a true honor and be OK with not having new inductees every single year, or the prestige of the whole thing could be lessened.
Thoughts, Bucs fans? Who else truly deserves a Ring of Honor spot after Wilder, Nickerson and potentially Rice? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.