|Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Established April 24, 1974
First season: 1976
Play in Raymond James Stadium
Headquartered in One Buccaneer Place
|General manager||Jason Licht|
|Head coach||Dirk Koetter|
Conference championships (1)
Division championships (6)
|Playoff appearances (10)|
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (usually shortened as the Bucs) are a professional American football franchise based in Tampa, Florida. The Buccaneers currently compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member team of the National Football Conference (NFC) South division. Along with the Seattle Seahawks, the team joined the NFL in 1976 as an expansion team. The Bucs played their first season in the American Football Conference (AFC) West division as part of the 1976 expansion plan, whereby each new franchise would play every other franchise over the first two years. After the season, the club switched conferences with the Seahawks and became a member of the NFC Central division. During the 2002 league realignment, the Bucs joined three former NFC West teams to form the NFC South. The club is owned by the Glazer family, and plays its 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; all three accomplishments occurred 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 and 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.
Over the course of 41 seasons, the Buccaneers have compiled an overall record of 256-402-1, with a regular-season record of 250-393-1 and a playoff record of 6-9.
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, such as the Buccaneers, Rowdies, Rays, Lightning, Storm, and the former Mutiny, denotes that they represent the entire region, not just Tampa.
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 José Gaspar, a mythical pirate who is said to have terrorized the Spanish Main from his hidden base on Florida's west coast. 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 Florida State 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° 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.
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 schedule of playing each division opponent twice, the Buccaneers played every conference team once, plus the Seahawks.
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 were the worst team in NFL history. Their losing streak caused them to become the butt of late-night television comedians' jokes. Their first win came in December 1977, on the road against the New Orleans Saints. The Saints' head coach Hank Stram was fired after losing to the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay only needed one more week to get their second victory, 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 the 1979 season. With the maturation of quarterback Doug Williams and future four-time Pro Bowl tight end Jimmie Giles, the first 1,000-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 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 won the Central Division in a tiebreaker over the 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. 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. It 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 win for the Bucs. In the playoffs, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Bucs, 38-0, in the divisional round.
The 1982 season started 0-3 for the Bucs, 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 Dallas, losing 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. The Bucs lost their first nine games of the 1983 season en route to finishing 2-14, the first of 12 consecutive seasons with at least ten losses--an NFL record. Included was the drafting of Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson with the first pick in the 1986 draft. Jackson had let it be known that he would never play a down for Hugh Culverhouse at Tampa Bay. Making good on his threat, he opted instead to play baseball for the Kansas City Royals and 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 Washington, 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 Baltimore Ravens.
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, and when they did it was more attributed to a strong visiting team with a large following in the area, such as the Chicago Bears or Green Bay Packers.
John Lynch, a future Pro Bowl strong safety, was drafted in 1993. In the 1995 NFL draft the Buccaneers drafted two future Hall of Famers: Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks. Pro Bowl Fullback, Mike Alstott, was drafted the next year in the 1996 draft.
Despite the profitability of the Buccaneers in the 1980s, Culverhouse's death in 1994 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 informed Tampa Bay area citizens its current stadium deal would not support the record paid amount and that a new stadium would be required. The Glazers convinced Hillsborough County voters to raise sales taxes to fund the construction of Raymond James Stadium 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).
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 Sam 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 1997 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 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 Washington 14-13 in the Divisional round, before losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion St. Louis Rams in a low-scoring NFC Championship Game, 11-6. The Bucs' loss was controversial, highlighted by the reversal of a pass from King to WR Bert Emanuel, which ended the Bucs' chances at continuing their last-minute drive. In league meetings following the season, the NFL changed the rules regarding what constituted an incomplete pass.
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 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).
Dungy was fired by the Buccaneers following a 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 (and former Buccaneers quarterback) 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; however, he was still under contract with 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 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, changing over 50% of the starting offense. With a new Tailback, Wide Receiver, Two Tight Ends, Left Tackle, and Left Guard, Gruden put his stamp on the teams offense to remove the term "Dungy's Team" label. 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 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 scored more points in two playoff wins over the 49ers and Eagles than in Bucs playoff history combined. The Philadelphia Eagles were a thorn in Tampa Bay's side, having eliminated the Bucs each of the last two seasons' wild card games, and were heavy underdogs to the Eagles again, but the Bucs persevered after falling behind early and won in dramatic fashion with a last second interception return for a touchdown. The Bucs then went on to rout Gruden's former team, the Raiders, who had the league's number 1 offense, by a score of 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII, nicknamed 'The Pirate Bowl'.
Soon after the Super Bowl victory, a growing number of press reports indicated Gruden's lack of patience with general manager McKay, a major architect of the Bucs' rebuilding effort over the previous ten years. McKay, 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 Martín Gramática 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 Carnell "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. 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 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 Washington.
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 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 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 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 the disappointing 2006 season, 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, 2007, the Buccaneers drafted Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams with the 4th overall pick in the 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 conference. 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 Gruden and general manager 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 their 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.
Raheem Morris was named the replacement for Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator in December 2008. A month later, after the huge collapse that ended the 2008 season, the Buccaneers fired Jon Gruden and swiftly elevated Morris to the head coach position. Bruce Allen was also let go, with Mark Dominik his successor as general manager. Several veterans were released including Derrick Brooks, Joey Galloway, and Jeff Garcia. The new staff traded for tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., signed quarterback Byron Leftwich, and drafted Josh Freeman with the 17th overall pick.
The 2009 squad started out 0-7, behind Leftwich and later Josh Johnson. Following their bye week, the team elevated Freeman to starting quarterback, resulting in the team's first win of the season. The team finished 3-13, the worst record since 1991.
In 2010, the Buccaneers surprised many, producing the greatest single-season turnaround in franchise history, going 10-6. This was largely behind the stellar performances of Freeman, rookie receiver Mike Williams, and LeGarrette Blount. Despite the effort, the team narrowly missed the playoffs, losing out on the wild card tiebreaker to eventual Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay.
Tampa Bay began the 2011 season with high hopes, adding several key defensive players through the draft. After a 4-2 start, however, the Buccaneers collapsed, dropping ten consecutive games to finish 4-12. The day after a 45-24 loss to Atlanta in their final game of the season, the team fired Morris, offensive coordinator Greg Olson and the rest of his corresponding staff. During the Morris era, the lack of on-the-field success, along with several contributing factors, including the recession, saw attendance slip, precipitating local television blackouts for the first time since the mid-1990s. All 8 regular season home games were blacked out in 2010, and 5 of 7 were blacked out in 2011 (one "home" game was played in London).
About three weeks after firing Raheem Morris, the Buccaneers hired Greg Schiano from Rutgers as the new head coach. During his introductory conference he stated "There will be Buccaneer men, and there will be a Buccaneer Way." The phrase "The Buccaneer Way" became a slogan amongst fans and local media, describing the new regime and attitude. The team filled out the coaching staff with new faces, including Mike Sullivan, Bill Sheridan, and Butch Davis. In 2013, Dave Wannstedt was also added as special teams coach. In the first day of free agency, the club signed top prospects Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks, as well as Eric Wright. The $140 million 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 team would finish the 2012 season at 7-9, notably ranking first in rushing defense. Furthermore, the rushing offense was highlighted by the breakout performance of Doug Martin. After two seasons of game day local television blackouts, the improved team began seeing increased attendance and attention, and some blackouts lifted. 6 games were blacked out in 2012. For the three-year period of 2010-2012 the Bucs led the NFL in local television blackouts with 19 (Cincinnati was second with 11). Schiano's strict and regimented coaching style, however, drew criticism at the end of the game against the Giants, ordering his defense to continue to aggressively tackle the offense as the quarterback was taking a knee to end the game.
Coming into the 2013 season, fans and analysts had better than average expectations for Tampa Bay. They were expected to improve their record, and potentially make a playoffs run. The predictions proved unfounded, as numerous issues on and off the field saw the team collapse. During training camp, a reported rift began to divide Schiano and quarterback Josh Freeman. After an 0-3 start, Freeman was benched, and ultimately released. Schiano started rookie Mike Glennon, but the team continued to lose. The fans' confidence of Schiano began to decay rapidly, and after an 0-8 start, the team finally got its first win of the season on a Monday night against Miami. A brief win streak saw improvements with Glennon at quarterback, and Bobby Rainey took over at running back with stellar numbers after Doug Martin went down with a shoulder injury. There were no blackouts in 2013, as the Glazers bought up the necessary tickets for two of the games to get to the 85% threshold needed to prevent local blackouts.
Despite some individual improvements, and some impressive performances by members of the defense, the team dropped the last three games of the season, and finished 4-12. The team ranked last or near the bottom in almost every offensive category. On December 30, 2013, Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik were fired.
On January 1, 2014, Lovie Smith was hired as the new head coach of the Buccaneers, replacing Greg Schiano. Smith had previously spent 5 seasons with the Buccaneers from 1996 to 2001 coaching the linebackers under Tony Dungy. During his first news conference with the Bucs, Smith talked about restoring the quality of the team from the late 1990s and early 2000s: "There was a certain brand of football you expected from us," Smith said. "You know we would be relentless. There was a brand of football that you got from us each week at Raymond James Stadium. It was hard for opponents to come in and win. We have gotten away from that a little bit, and it's time ... for us to become a relevant team again."
On January 21, 2014, Jason Licht was hired as the new general manager, replacing Mark Dominik. He was officially introduced at One Buc Place on January 23, 2014. In his first news conference, Licht talked about his philosophy: "Our philosophy is going to be to build through the draft. That's where we find our stars. That's where we find the next generation. But also in the short term and long term we're going to supplement our roster through free agency but we're going to look for value. We're going to spend wisely."
After signing veteran free agent Josh McCown and many more free agents, many analysts predicted that the Buccaneers could be the surprise team of the year and possibly make a playoff run. Those predictions soon went away after the Bucs began the season 0-3, including a 56-14 blowout against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football. McCown was injured in that game, and second year quarterback Mike Glennon was named the starter. His first start of the 2014 season ended with the Bucs earning their first victory of the season in Pittsburgh against the Steelers 27-24. The Bucs lost the next 4 games, including two overtime losses against the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings, one blowout against the Baltimore Ravens, and a 5-point loss against the Cleveland Browns. Going into week 10 at 1-8, McCown returned as the starter. Mathematically, the Bucs were still in playoff contention only being 3 games out of first place in the division. McCown's first game back ended with a 27-17 loss to the Falcons but won the following week in a 27-7 blowout against struggling Washington. The Bucs would lose the next three games and were officially knocked out of playoff contention in week 14. The Bucs would finish 2-14, winning 2 less games than the previous season and secured the first-overall draft pick for the 2015 NFL draft.
Despite the team's record, first-round draft pick wide receiver Mike Evans had more than 1,000 receiving yards and he became the youngest NFL player to record more than 200 receiving yards in a single game. Vincent Jackson also had more than 1,000 yards receiving, which represented Tampa Bay's first pair of 1,000 yard receivers in a season. Second-year CB Johnthan Banks led the team with 4 interceptions and has 50 tackles. Danny Lansanah flourished in the Tampa 2 system with 81 tackles, 1.5 QB sacks, and 3 interceptions, with 2 of those interceptions returned for touchdowns for the 2014 season. Jacquies Smith, who was signed from Buffalo after waiving rookie DE Scott Solomon a month into the season, had 17 combined tackles, 13 solo tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble in only 8 starts for 2014.
In December 2014, a report surfaced that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used homeless people to sell beer and did not pay them.
After the conclusion of the 2014 season, Tampa Bay hired Ben Steele to become the team's new offensive quality control coach as well as former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter, to be their new offensive coordinator after parting ways with QB coach and interim offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo. Having a 2-14 record, tied for the worst record in the NFL in 2014, Tampa gained the 1st overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft. They also made some headlines when they released QB Josh McCown on February 11, 2015 to save $5.25 million in cap space. With the first overall pick in the NFL draft, the Buccaneers selected Jameis Winston from Florida State. Throughout the offseason, there was much debate whether the Buccaneers should pick Jameis, or Oregon QB Marcus Mariota.
On January 6, 2016, Smith was fired by the Buccaneers after posting a record of 8-24 in his two seasons, including a 6-10 record in the 2015 season.
The teams' record sat at 3-5 following a blowout loss to the Atlanta Falcons in a nationally televised Thursday Night Football matchup. Playoff chances grew increasingly more unlikely. However, following the loss, the Buccaneers rattled off five straight victories, the longest winning streak since the 2002 season. During the streak, the Buccaneers earned upset victories over the heavily favored Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks. The Buccaneers ended their 2016 season with a 9-7 record, but lost the NFC's sixth seed to the Detroit Lions due to tiebreakers.
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. Three Buccaneer players have been named the AP Defensive Player of the Year, and the team has led the league in total defense on three occasions. All four of the Buccaneers Hall of Fame inductees are defensive players or coaches.
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.
The team drafted franchise cornerstones John Lynch in 1993, and Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks in 1995 to go along with All-Pro linebacker Hardy Nickerson. That was followed by the hiring of innovative defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin in 1996. The new-look 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 ten every year but one, including eight top-5 finishes, and two top-ranked efforts. Kiffin along with head coach Tony Dungy created the "Tampa 2" defense, a modified version of the established Cover 2 scheme.
Kiffin's defenses were known as gang tacklers with tremendous team speed with a front four 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 the Buccaneers experienced led by numerous Pro Bowlers and Hall of Famers. The Tampa Bay defense featured future Hall of Famers, Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp, and Pro Bowlers, John Lynch, Ronde Barber, Hardy Nickerson, Simeon Rice, Shelton Quarles, Donnie Abraham, and Super Bowl XXXVII MVP Dexter Jackson. Sapp and Nickerson were named to the 1990s All-Decade 2nd Team while the 2000s All-Decade Team featured Sapp and Brooks as 1st Team players and Ronde Barber on the 2nd Team.
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 Tampa Bay led the league in total defense (252.8 ypg), points allowed (196), first downs allowed (14.8 pg), passing (155.6 ypg), interceptions (31), interceptions returned for touchdowns (5), opponent passer rating (48.4), and shutouts (2). They also finished third in opponent rushing average (3.8 ypc), and sixth in sacks (43). Derrick Brooks was awarded AP Defensive Player of the Year as the defense led the way to a 12-4 regular season. The team was even better in the postseason allowing only 37 points in three games combined - all against top ten offenses. In those three playoff games, they intercepted 9 passes - returning 4 for touchdowns - and collected 11 sacks.
In Super Bowl XXXVII, the Buccaneers delivered one of the most impressive 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, allowing 2 offensive touchdowns while returning 3 interceptions for touchdowns. The defense set two records in the 48-21 blowout, one for most interceptions in a Super Bowl (5), and one for most interceptions returned for touchdowns in a Super Bowl (3). In 19 total games in 2002, the Buccaneers recorded 40 interceptions, 53 sacks, and 9 defensive touchdowns.
In 1975, the Buccaneers built a small practice complex with offices near Tampa International Airport called One Buccaneer Place. As other NFL teams replaced or upgraded their respective facilities, Buccaneers players and coaches stepped up their complaints about the constant aircraft noise, cramped offices, small locker rooms, and decrepit condition of One Buc Place. Then-head coach Jon Gruden sarcastically referred to the facility as "The Woodshed," and some of the coaches' offices were actually converted broom closets. For much of the team's existence, the Buccaneers 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 Buccaneers unveiled a new $30 million training facility. Conveniently located across the street from Raymond James Stadium (on the former site of Tampa Bay Center), the state-of-the-art complex (145,000-square-foot (13,500 m2) facility on 33 acres (13 ha)) is one of the largest in the NFL. Its features include offices and meeting rooms, three natural grass practice fields, a theater 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. An indoor practice field, featuring artificial turf, was completed in 2017. 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.
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 challenge 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 moustached pirate donning a plumed slouch hat, with a large hoop earring, clutching a dagger in his teeth. The pirate appeared to be winking. For a very brief time he was referred to as "Morgan," and coach John McKay called him "Errol Flynn." Local St. Petersburg Times sportswriter Hubert Mizell coined the somewhat belittling nickname "Bucco Bruce" in a February 1976 column, noting almost immediately the mascot's unintimidating and "cavalier" appearance. The nickname stuck, while the logo and the name "Bucco Bruce" became symbols and reminders of the club's ongoing futility. Sports writer and commentator Nick Bakay once said that Bucco Bruce was a pirate who "struck fear in the hearts of no one."
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, following Culverhouse's death, 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 Buccaneers 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 wind-swept flag displaying a white pirate skull and crossed sabres which is a modified Jolly Roger (similar to that of Calico Jack). The flagpole was another larger 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 staged a ceremony at The Pier on April 7, 1997 in which Bucco Bruce walked the plank of the pirate ship Bounty docked in Tampa Bay. But not after 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 loosely 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 trousers. The white-on-white combination has been used numerous times during preseason and early regular season games, while the red-on-white combination has been used much less sparingly. The red-on-white has been used for some prime time home games, and other selected home games. Most games, home and away, have utilized pewter trousers.
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. For 2005, the uniform featured a patch commemorating the club's 30th season.
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 wear 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 games that kick off at 1:00 p.m. Eastern games. The west sideline is in the shade. In 1989, the Buccaneers started to wear white at home to accommodate Vinny Testaverde's color blindness. Vinny Testaverde had bad performances in the darker (orange) uniforms and persuaded head coach Ray Perkins to change the team's home uniform to white. In certain years such as 1989-1991, 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 last few home games, and for nearly all night home games. In the preseason, the Bucs may or may not wear white for their 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 instead, 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 California state court, the lawsuit was tossed out because only federal courts have jurisdiction on intellectual property issues.
The Buccaneers unveiled a slightly altered logo and helmet on February 20, 2014. On March 3, 2014, they unveiled the entire new uniform to be used starting in the 2014 season. The jersey numbers feature a high-vis reflective outline, the helmet logo has been revamped, and the facemask now has a chrome-effect coating. The Bucs' original Creamsicle shade of orange has been reintroduced to the uniform.
Following the uniform change in 1997, the Buccaneers did not wear the old uniform, even during popular league-sponsored "throwback" weekends. The old uniforms were mostly eschewed by the club, and the sale of team merchandise in the old color scheme was scuttled for several years. In 2008, the team revealed that they would be wearing 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 throwback game was to become an annual tradition, but has been on hiatus since 2013 due to league-wide restrictions suggesting players wear the same helmet throughout the season for safety reasons.
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. They remained the only NFL team in the modern era to experience a winless season until Detroit went 0-16 in 2008, and then Cleveland also went winless in 2017.
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pro Football Hall of Fame Members|
|63||Lee Roy Selmon||DE||1976-1984||1995|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers retired numbers|
|63||Lee Roy Selmon||DE||1976-1984|
In 1991, the organization initiated the "Krewe of Honor" to recognize top players, and featured a mural of the first class of three members. The display was located on the east side of the stadium. Quarterback Doug Williams was inducted September 6, 1992, and owner Hugh Culverhouse on September 5, 1993. No additional members were added before Tampa Stadium was closed and demolished; when the stadium was demolished in 1998, so was the Krewe.
|Tampa Stadium Krewe of Honor|
|1991||63||Lee Roy Selmon||DE||1976-1984|
|--||John McKay||Head Coach||1976-1984|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ring of Honor|
|2009||63||Lee Roy Selmon||DE||1976-1984|
|2010||--||John McKay||Head Coach||1976-1984|
|--||Jon Gruden||Head Coach||2002-2008|
Many former and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers players have represented the franchise in the Pro Bowl:
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pro Bowl selections|
|No. of Pro Bowls||Player||Position||Tenure||Pro Bowls|
|11||Derrick Brooks||LB||1995-2008||1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008|
|7||Warren Sapp||DT||1995-2003||1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003|
|6||Lee Roy Selmon||DE||1976-1984||1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984|
|6||Mike Alstott||FB||1996-2007||1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002|
|6||Gerald McCoy||DT||2010-present||2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017|
|5||Hardy Nickerson||LB||1993-1999||1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999|
|5||John Lynch||SS||1993-2003||1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002|
|5||Ronde Barber||CB||1997-2012||2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008|
|4||Jimmie Giles||TE||1978-1986||1980, 1981, 1982, 1985|
|3||Tony Mayberry||C||1990-1999||1997, 1998, 1999|
|2||Hugh Green||LB||1981-1985||1982, 1983|
|2||Warrick Dunn||RB||1997-2001, 2008||1997, 2000|
|2||Simeon Rice||DE||2001-2006||2002, 2003|
|2||Davin Joseph||G||2006-2013||2008, 2011|
|2||Doug Martin||RB||2012-present||2012, 2015|
|1||Dave Moore||TE||1992-2001, 2004-2007||2006|
|John McKay||1976-1984||45-91-1 (.332)||1979, 1981||1982||1979 (vs. 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 (.359)|
|Tony Dungy||1996-2001||56-46-0 (.549)||1999||1997, 2000, 2001||1999 (at 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||2012-2013||11-21-0 (.344)|
|Lovie Smith||2014-2015||8-24-0 (.250)|
|Dirk Koetter||2016-present||14-18-0 (.438)|
A Triumph of the Heart: The Ricky Bell Story is a made-for-television movie that recounts the life of the late Buccaneer running back Ricky Bell. The movie takes place through a dramatic reenactment of the 1981 season, including actual footage of gameplay around the dramatized role by Mario Van Peebles playing Bell himself. Bell finds himself befriending an impaired child who inspire each other to become better in their own ways. It also includes other former Buccaneer players, like Lee Roy Selmon, Charley Hannah, and Doug Williams (only through gameplay footage).
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."
The Buccaneers' current flagship radio stations are WXTB 97.9 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 on ESPN and Thursday night games on NFL Network are simulcast locally on WMOR-TV, who also previously carried the Bucs' Sunday Night Football games when they were televised on ESPN and TNT; previously, the Bucs' appearances on the cable networks were seen locally on WFLA-TV and WFTS.
WFLA was the previous home to Buccaneers 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 Monday Night Football for 2007. Charles Davis also served as color commentator from 2007 to 2008.
WTOG channel 44 also previously broadcast Buccaneers 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 Buccaneers 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.