The PewterReport.com Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a topic each week that involves the Bucs. This week’s topic: Is Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady already worthy of being inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor?
Scott Reynolds: Yes, Brady Already Belongs In The Bucs Ring Of Honor
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What is the Bucs Ring of Honor? I see it as public recognition for legendary performance playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The enshrined get their names permanently affixed to the inside of Raymond James Stadium as a salute to their service to the Bucs organization. In my mind, players (and coaches) eligible for the Bucs Ring of Honor should have helped contribute to Tampa Bay making the playoffs or winning championships, and/or setting franchise records as one of the best at their position to suit up in a Buccaneers uniform. Despite playing just one season in Tampa Bay so far, quarterback Tom Brady meets both of those criteria.
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today
Under the harshest conditions – no offseason, no preseason and a truncated training camp – Brady shined in his first season with the Bucs. He helped Tampa Bay go 11-5 and end a playoff drought that went back to 2007. Brady was instrumental in helping the Bucs win three playoff games on the road and Super Bowl LV. He was also the MVP in Super Bowl LV. Not to mention the fact that he set a new franchise record with 40 passing touchdowns in a season. He added three more scores on the ground to give him a total of 43 TDs. That’s the most touchdowns in a single season by a Bucs player in team history.
In just one year, Brady broke Bucs records, won a Super Bowl and was the game’s MVP. He’s already done more than some players that have played for the organization for multiple seasons. I’ve been asked before about Gerald McCoy’s worthiness for the Bucs Ring of Honor. It’s not my call, but I wouldn’t endorse his candidacy because it doesn’t meet my criteria. McCoy never played for a playoff team and he didn’t leave his mark on the Bucs’ record book. Yes, he was voted to the Pro Bowl six times, but that’s an individual accomplishment. I think McCoy was a very good player, but not a great player. There’s no doubting Brady’s greatness as a Buccaneer – even after just one season. Brady already deserves to be in the Bucs Ring of Honor.
Mark Cook: Not So Fast My Friend
While like all Bucs fans and most members of the media, I marveled at the ability of Tom Brady to take a floundering franchise, put it on his back, and take it to the NFL mountain top last season, however, I can’t say that Brady is worthy of Ring of Honor accolades – just yet.
QB Tom Brady – photo by: USA Today
There has to be some criteria to being selected and I believe longevity should be one of these. While what Brady did in 2020 was nothing short of remarkable, to be bestowed such an honor there needs to be a longer resumé than just one season. We can’t just start throwing in one-year success stories within the franchise. While clearly Brady had a 20-year run of success prior to coming to Tampa Bay that has proven him to be the best to ever play the QB position in the NFL, those 20 seasons in News England can’t have any bearing on his worthiness as a Ring of Honor member for the Bucs.
Now if you ask will he eventually be inducted, yes, of course I do, But I also believe there is a lot more of we saw in 2020 still to come from Brady. Two more years and another Super Bowl title would cement it for me. But it has to be more than one season of success, or in my opinion, it really cheapens the honor and is a slap in the face to the ones ones who are current members that played or coached for a number of years. There are still quite a few players who, while they didn’t have the immediate success of Brady, meant a lot to the franchise and the community, and put up outstanding numbers. Yes, Glazers, I am talking about James Wilder specifically. But two more years of playoff football and another trip to the Super Bowl and I’ll be the first banging the drum for Brady’s induction.
Jon Ledyard: Doesn’t Get More Impactful Than Brady’s 2020 Season
There are no written criteria for the Bucs Ring of Honor, but if there were I would happily adhere to those. If such a thing were written by the organization, it would likely include more than one year of playing time with the organization. That’s an understandable mark that would give some credence to longevity being critical to making the Bucs Ring of Honor.
But until such stipulations are clarified in writing, Brady should be a lock for the Bucs Ring of Honor. In a COVID-impacted season in which he didn’t even have time to get a full grasp of the Bucs offense until late in the regular season, Brady was magnificent. He was easily the team’s MVP in leading the formerly disaster-ridden franchise out of a losing culture and all the way to their second Super Bowl ring. Yes, plenty of players and coaches deserve credit, but none more than Brady. In an offense that has always put a massive burden on the quarterback to be great, Brady was among the best in the league.
And, although he had a great group around him, Brady’s weaponry wasn’t flawless in 2020. It was probably Mike Evans’ roughest season, partially due to injuries. Chris Godwin missed more than four games with various ailments, and Antonio Brown didn’t play until Week 9. It took Brown awhile to get the offense down after that, and then he was injured for much of the playoffs. O.J. Howard tore his Achilles in Week 4, after becoming one of Brady’s favorite targets. And the Bucs running back room dropped more passes than any group in the NFL.
Brady was brilliant despite it all, putting up massive numbers, leading the team to multiple comeback victories and saving them in the wild card round while almost everyone else in red and pewter struggled that day. Yes, the defense was critical to finishing the job in the playoffs, but they never would have gotten there if not for Brady. It’s hard to argue against his 2020 season being Ring of Honor worthy if there is no requirement for longevity in order to make the list.
Matt Matera: Of Course, Brady Transcended The Bucs’ Turnaround
Before answering about Brady, a quick question. Did you know that the Miami Heat have Michael Jordan’s jersey number retired? Yes, the Miami Heat, who have all-time greats such as Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal with their jerseys in the rafters of the American Airlines Arena, also have Jordan’s numbers 23 up there. For those that didn’t know, Jordan didn’t play a game for Miami. What Jordan did, though, was transcend the game of basketball to the point that it made other teams shutter at the idea of another player wearing 23. Now, back to Brady. Brady actually played for the Bucs, and in less than one year brought the Bucs to new heights that they couldn’t have dreamed of reaching. Like Jordan, Brady transcends the sport, and he actually played for the team that will retire his jersey.
For starters, Brady is responsible for getting Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette here. That’s just the beginning of it. He didn’t just show up and expect to be great. Brady instilled a work ethic and an aspiration for greatness that this team always wanted, but never believed they had until he showed up. You can’t find that looking at a box score, so let’s bring in the stats now. Brady’s 40 touchdown passes was a franchise record. It took him one year in a season that canceled the offseason workouts for him to accomplish it. Mike Evans had 13 touchdown receptions for a franchise record with 12 of them coming from Brady. Coincidence that he had one of his best years with Brady? I think not.
By the way, Brady was also the Super Bowl MVP for the Bucs’ Super Bowl LV win at home. He’s entering a season where the Bucs are expected to win the division and contend for another Super Bowl again. Should he at least get the Bucs to the postseason, while along the way breaking the NFL’s all-time passing record, then how do you not retire his number? He’ll accomplish offensive milestones that weren’t even thought of in this organization until Brady got here. You can’t have the unquestioned Greatest Of All Time, who you also won a championship with, and not have him in your Ring Of Honor. You just can’t. Let common sense prevail.