As I walked through the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 2005 on the day before Tampa Bay’s 17-16 win over the Packers at Lambeau Field I wondered why the Buccaneers did not have a Hall of Fame. True, the Bucs’ past is not as old or rich as the Packers’ history.
But with a Super Bowl championship, six division titles and a span from 1997-2007 in which the Buccaneers reached the playoffs seven times thanks to a handful of potential Pro Football Hall of Famers, there is enough history to begin to celebrate a franchise that will embark on its 33rd season in 2008.
While taking in the Cheesehead atmosphere at Lambeau Field two years ago and witnessing the legendary names around the stadium and the retired jersey numbers from the golden era of Titletown, USA, I realized that the Bucs’ own golden era was about to come to an end. It wouldn’t be long before the likes of safety John Lynch, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, fullback Mike Alstott and linebacker Derrick Brooks hung up the cleats for good.
When that happened, the time would be right for the franchise to begin to publicly recognize the great gridiron warriors that represented the Tampa Bay area so well and donned the colors of orange and white and red and pewter since 1976. Sapp and Alstott have announced their retirement from the NFL. Lynch, a 15-year veteran, is pondering retirement. Brooks may only play a year or two more before he retires.
The time to honor the legends of the Buccaneers has come and – with your help and the help of other passionate Tampa Bay fans – Pewter Report will champion the cause to persuade the Glazers to build a Bucs Ring of Honor and/or a Bucs Hall of Fame.
We are doing this with the Pewter Petition on PewterReport.com. Stories could be written and unscientific Web site polls could be used to demonstrate interest, but that is not a true, accurate measure of demand for a Bucs Ring of Honor or a Bucs Hall of Fame.
Pewter Report has crafted a petition in which Bucs fans can electronically sign to show their enthusiasm for honoring the best Buccaneers of all time. Your name, address and contact info is necessary to validate the petition in lieu of a signature, and prevent duplication and multiple voting. Your personal information will be kept confidential and will not be sold or distributed to a third party.
Pewter Report’s goal is to collect thousands of electronic signatures to present to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the conclusion of the 2008 season, showing the organization how much fan support there is for a Bucs Hall of Fame or Bucs Ring of Honor. This petition is not sanctioned by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers nor the NFL. Pewter Report cannot guarantee that the Buccaneers will act on this petition once it is received.
However, former Bucs quarterback Doug Williams and Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks have pledged their support for the Pewter Petition.
“I think that’s a great idea,” Williams said. “When you think about it, there is a Lee Roy Selmon restaurant and a Lee Roy Selmon expressway. That’s history right there. He was a Buccaneer before new ownership. New ownership was one of the greatest things to happen to this franchise. And you have to take your hat off to the ownership for taking the time and spending the money they did for the Alumni Reunion. I’d like to see their names at the stadium. I think there is enough room over at the stadium for a Hall of Fame. It all boils down to what the owner wants to do. When you go to the Redskins stadium you do see their names around there in a Ring of Honor. That’s where it should start. If you want a Hall of Fame building where fans can walk through and see the memorabilia, that’s a different ball game.
“The Bucs actually had [a Krewe of Honor at Tampa Stadium], but they did away with it. It would actually be very befitting for the Buccaneers to have a Ring of Honor. Let’s face it, there is history with the Buccaneers and there is going to be a lot more history with guys like Shelton Quarles, Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp. You just can’t start a Ring of Honor or a Hall of Fame at that juncture. You have to look at the NFL teams that have those Rings of Honor and they all go way back. You have to start with Lee Roy Selmon, Doug Williams, Jimmie Giles, Batman Wood, David Lewis and Ricky Bell and work your way up.”
Brooks has been very passionate for this cause and pledged his support for this idea when he spoke with Pewter Report about it during the 2007 training camp.
“Sign me up as one of the first guys that really wants that type of recognition for our organization. I think it’s important in establishing our team history and our team tradition. It’s there, but more people need to be aware of it and not ashamed of it. The success that we plan on having here in the future can only bring that much more appreciation of the past. The more awareness we can bring to it, hopefully the organization will feel the need to want start it.”
Brooks would not be opposed to retired jerseys or a Bucs Hall of Fame, but would like to see the organization start with a Bucs Ring of Honor first.
“I’m more of a Ring of Honor guy because that’s what I see at other stadiums that I go to,” Brooks said. “Again, it would be another sign of showing that we are proud of our history and we’re not ashamed of our history. I think that’s the overall message that we sending. I’m definitely in favor of a Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium. We had our first big Alumni Weekend last year and I think that is something to build on and move towards a Ring of Honor.”
Who doesn’t want some of the best players from the days of Bucco Bruce to be recognized? Who doesn’t want some of today’s players who brought a Super Bowl championship to Tampa Bay to be immortalized?
Not only will you get to vote for your choice of a Bucs Hall of Fame or a Bucs Ring of Honor (hopefully the franchise elects to do both over time), but you will also get to record your opinion for which jerseys the team should retire next and which players should be first ballot Hall of Famers.
After participating, Pewter Report asks for you to let all of the other Bucs fans in your life – family, friends and co-workers – know about the Pewter Petition. The more names we get on the Pewter Petition the more support the team will see that a Bucs Ring of Honor or Bucs Hall of Fame.
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LISTEN to Pewter Report's Jim Flynn each Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. on the Pewter Pulse with Dan Sileo on WDAE 620 AM The Sports Animal, and catch Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds each Wednesday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. on the PewterReport.com Buccaneer Blitz with Steve Duemig on WDAE 620 AM The Sports Animal.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org