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michael89156

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: January 27, 2013, 12:31:31 AM



Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 12-step plan to 2002 glory






 2003, TRIBUNE
Dwight Smith and the Bucs were always a step ahead of the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.




 By IRA KAUFMAN| The Tampa Tribune
Published:  January 26, 2013 - 12:06 AM



TAMPA --

When the smoke and the confetti cleared 10 years ago today, it all seemed worth it.
 
All of the Johnny Carson jokes, the paper bags covering the heads of fans at Tampa Stadium, the bad trades, the inept draft picks, the Bo Jackson fiasco, the unprecedented 14-year stretch of losing football all of it.
 
All was forgiven because on the afternoon of Jan. 26, 2003, in San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrated as Super Bowl XXXVII winners after a 48-21 rout of the AFC champion Oakland Raiders.
 
The next evening, as the team charter circled Raymond James Stadium, the Bucs and head coach Jon Gruden peered down and saw a packed facility awaiting their arrival.
 
"We parked the buses in the tunnel and walked out,'' recalled Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer. "My father walked first, with Jon, and he was holding the trophy as he came onto the field. It was so loud and deafening, you couldn't hear the cannons going off on the pirate ship.''
 
Last month, when players and coaches from the 2002 club gathered in Tampa to mark the 10-year anniversary with a reception at Bucs headquarters, powerful memories came flooding back.
 
Almost everyone showed up, including Gruden, running back Mike Alstott, quarterback Brad Johnson and the nucleus of the NFL's No. 1 defense defensive tackle Warren Sapp, linebacker Derrick Brooks and safety John Lynch.
 
"What you saw that night was a microcosm of what we saw during the 2002 season,'' said former Tampa Bay defensive tackle Anthony "Booger'' McFarland, now a local sports radio host. "You saw everybody's personality.
 
"You could still hear Sapp, everywhere. Brooks was in a quiet meeting somewhere. Lynch is the guy who was going to be the spokesman. And Gruden's over there in the corner, huddling up with Brad they're trying to figure something out.''
 
Bucs fans will always remember where they were when Monte Kiffin's marauding defense returned three Rich Gannon interceptions for touchdowns as Gruden raced down the sidelines in glee.
 
Here's the 12-step plan of how it happened and what it meant.
 
1. OLD WOUNDS
 
The 1999 Bucs dropped an 11-6 decision at St. Louis in the NFC title game and their next two playoff appearances ended with drab losses in Philadelphia. The '02 club exacted its revenge by closing down Veterans Stadium with a 27-10 victory to become conference champions for the first time.
 "You'd get your hopes up and then Philly would ruin your dreams.'' FB Mike Alstott
 "The region was suffering because the Bucs couldn't get over the hump. When I came in as a free agent, I quickly realized this is the place I wanted to be. I felt it was my job to help these guys win it all.'' WR Keenan McCardell
 
2. STAR POWER
 
The 2002 Bucs placed seven players on the NFC Pro Bowl roster FB Mike Alstott, LB Derrick Brooks, QB Brad Johnson, S John Lynch, LB Shelton Quarles, DE Simeon Rice and DT Warren Sapp.
 "We had special players, eventual Hall of Fame players.'' QB Brad Johnson
 "I don't know that any team has had that amount of talent on one roster.'' co-chairman Bryan Glazer
 "From Simeon, with his astrological thinking, to me and Brooks, we had something for everybody.'' DT Warren Sapp
 
3. CHEMISTRY 101
 
For every Pro Bowler, the Bucs had a role player who contributed to a 15-4 record.
 "Anytime you have Sapp, Rice and Keyshawn Johnson, you know we had characters, but we also had character.'' general manager Rich McKay
 "When somebody went out, guys stepped up and played their part." LB Shelton Quarles
 "There were a bunch of stars on that team, but also a bunch of lunch-pail guys.'' G Cosey Coleman
 "We all jelled and respected each other. We never wanted to disappoint a teammate." DT Chuck Darby, who filled in for an injured McFarland in the postseason
 
4. BRAD
 
In his second year with the Bucs, Johnson overcame a flurry of injuries to lead the NFC with a 92.9 passer rating.
 "We didn't give up sacks or turnovers and we grew with the system." QB Brad Johnson
 "Brad could take all of Jon's stuff and handle the volume. He was one smart quarterback.'' Raiders QB Rich Gannon, the 2002 NFL MVP
 "Brad doesn't get the attention he deserves. He got the job done and made smart decisions. He was a tough guy, but not a 'me' guy." co-chairman Bryan Glazer
 "I really felt Brad was our MVP that year." coach Jon Gruden
 
5. DEFENSE
 
The Bucs led the league in total defense and pass defense that season, registering 31 interceptions while allowing only 10 touchdowns through the air.
 "For so many years, we played three yards and a cloud of dust offense and some serious defense. Jon wasn't going to have it. When our offense came alive in the playoffs, it was over." DT Warred Sapp
 "I think our defense that season was better than the '85 Bears and the 2000 Ravens." LB Derrick Brooks
 
6. REDEMPTION
 
Only die-hard Bucs fans believed Tampa Bay could go into frigid Philadelphia and upset the Eagles in the NFC title game. A 71-yard catch-and-run by Joe Jurevicius proved critical and Ronde Barber sealed the decision with a 92-yard interception return against Donovan McNabb in the closing minutes.
 "When we won at Philly, that's when I said we're on it now." FB Mike Alstott
 "It's almost like we played two Super Bowls. It seemed like everything was stacked against us in Philly." LS Ryan Benjamin
 
"That Philly game changed on that one play by Joe Jurevicius. We all knew what he was going through with his infant son and it felt for the first time that it was meant to be for us." S John Lynch
 
"That Philly game was bigger than the Super Bowl." DT Chuck Darby
 
7. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS
 
Years of postseason disappointment faded when the Bucs hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy, emblematic of NFL supremacy.
 "That was a very smart group, with Hall of Fame players at every level." Raiders QB Rich Gannon
 
"I was hurt, but I flew out with the team to San Diego. I knew how bad Brooks wanted it, how hard Sapp worked for it. Not days, not months. They put years into it." DT Anthony McFarland
 "It was the culmination of a lot of hard work and it meant so much. Our fans had stuck with us through thick and thin. To finally win it all gave validation to us as a team, knowing that all the work was worth it.'' S John Lynch
 
8. LEGACY
 
Despite winning their three postseason games by a combined 106-37 margin, the 2002 Bucs are rarely mentioned among the most dominant clubs of the Super Bowl era.
 
"That's one of the best teams ever and I don't think we get the credit we deserve." LB Derrick Brooks
 
"That was a unique group of guys who all bought into a system. We believed in what we were doing and the more I see the success of aerial attacks today, I appreciate our group even more." CB Brian Kelly
 
9. REGRETS
 
Tampa Bay opened their championship defense with a 17-0 victory at Philadelphia in the 2003 opener, spoiling the first game at Lincoln Financial Field. But Tampa Bay finished 7-9 amid turmoil.
 "That 2002 team was magnificent and unique, but we should have won more Super Bowls. Coming off that championship, I felt we were poised to win another one." DE Simeon Rice
 
"We had too good a team not to win a championship over that course of time. I'm still disappointed we didn't win more." LB Derrick Brooks
 "It was fun to be part of a Super Bowl run, but we wanted multiple championships. It felt like we had two or three in us, but everyone wanted to do his own thing." WR Keyshawn Johnson
 
10. LASTING BONDS
 
Until last month's reunion, many of the members of the 2002 club hadn't seen each other for years. Still, the attachment among the players and between that club and the community remain strong.
 "People fell in love with that team because they saw us as more than players. They liked us as people, and that's a connection you can't buy." LB Derrick Brooks
 "Those players will live forever here in Tampa. It was a beloved group of players who were together for a long period of time." co-chairman Bryan Glazer
 "Monday through Saturday, me and Brian Kelly had nothing in common. On Sunday, we were brothers." DT Warren Sapp
 
11. AFTERMATH
 
Since winning it all, the Bucs are 69-91 with zero playoff wins. Jon Gruden and his successor, Raheem Morris, were fired and Tampa Bay has finished in the NFC South basement four times in the past seven seasons.
 "You win the Super Bowl and you think you're going to do it again and again. Then you eventually realize how difficult it is." co-chairman Bryan Glazer
 
12. IMPACT


 "That game has become a trademark day in the history of Tampa Bay. Lots of people I meet can still remember the plays and the formations like it was yesterday." coach Jon Gruden
 "We were part of something special. It's special to share a championship. When I got here, it was 12 straight double-digit loss seasons. To stand here 10 years after the fact is pretty gratifying." DT Warren Sapp
 "Time has flown by and 10 years have passed very quickly. We went through such an amazing year. To go up to Philly when nobody gave us a chance and we punched them in the mouth and closed the Vet in spectacular fashion. Our offense got better as the season went on and it all came together that afternoon in San Diego." co-chairman Bryan Glazer

bucinnj

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#1 : January 27, 2013, 11:41:18 AM

Now that was a quality piece.
So many solid truths.

Turn the page.

1sparkybuc

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#2 : January 27, 2013, 01:11:43 PM

I love the quote by Meshawn. He uses "we" and "us" like he actually understands the concept.

bucinnj

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#3 : January 27, 2013, 01:15:26 PM

I love the quote by Meshawn. He uses "we" and "us" like he actually understands the concept.

Agreed.

This was my favorite line from Key.


"It felt like we had two or three in us, but everyone wanted to do his own thing." WR Keyshawn Johnson

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