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: Who Is The Most Underrated Bucs Player Of All-Time?
Scott Reynolds: Mayberry Deserves To Be In Bucs Ring Of Honor
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Last week the Pewter Report staff debated whether quarterback Tom Brady deserved to be in the Bucs Ring of Honor after just one season. After all, Brady did set franchise records with 40 touchdown passes and account for the most TDs in a single season (43) in 2020. And he also helped Tampa Bay win Super Bowl LV and was the game’s MVP. Not bad for his Bucs debut. Aside from Brady, defensive end Simeon Rice, middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson and running back James Wilder, another Tampa Bay legend that belongs in the Bucs Ring of Honor is former center Tony Mayberry. He’s also the most underrated Buccaneer in my opinion.
Former Bucs C Tony Mayberry – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Everyone over the age of 35 remembers Tampa Bay play-by-play announcer Gene Deckerhoff’s legendary “Alstott up the gut!” call on the Bucs Radio Network whenever Mike Alstott ripped off a tackle-breaking run up the middle. And who was the middle man that provided Alstott – and running back Warrick Dunn – so many holes to run through back in the 1990s? It was Mayberry, the team’s fourth-round draft pick in 1990. The 6-foot-4, 288-pound Wake Forest product was the perfect mix of intelligence, technique and brute force. Mayberry battled the likes of Bears middle linebacker Bryan Cox, Vikings defensive tackle John Randle and Packers defensive tackle Santana Dotson on a regular basis, and helped propel the Bucs to their first trip to the playoffs in 13 years in 1997, and to an NFC Central division championship in 1999.
Mayberry became the first Bucs offensive lineman in team history to make it to the Pro Bowl. And he is the only Tampa Bay O-lineman to make the Pro Bowl three times (1997-99). That makes him the most decorated lineman in team history. While I agree that Paul Gruber should have made the Pro Bowl at least once in his illustrious career, he did get inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor. While not as talented as Gruber, the underrated Mayberry deserves to be in the Bucs Ring of Honor, too. Gruber is third in Tampa Bay history in games started with 183 and Mayberry is right behind him in fourth place with 145. Mayberry is the second-best lineman in Bucs history.
Mark Cook: CB Donnie Abraham Deserves More Love From Fans
It would be easy to pick defensive end Simeon Rice, but that is too obvious of a choice. Not only has Rice not garnered the Hall of Fame attention he deserves, but he isn’t even in the Bucs Ring of Honor. So I’m going off the charts a little with my pick. There are a number of players that have been very valuable to the franchise who have kind of been forgotten, or played in an era where the younger generation never got to see them in action. Guys like Dave Logan, Hugh Green, Steve Wilson, Mark Cotney, Cedric Brown and others were some of the best to ever wear a Bucs uniform. And a player who got to wear the creamsicles and the red and pewter that is overlooked often is cornerback Donnie Abraham.
Former Bucs CB Donnie Abraham – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
When you play on a team with Warren Sapp, Mike Alstott, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and other stars it is easy to go somewhat unnoticed. But statistically, Abraham was one of the best cornerbacks in team history and his 31 interceptions is still second best in franchise history trailing just Ronde Barber. In six seasons with Tampa Bay, Abraham has two seven interception seasons, one with six, and two season with five picks. Despite being one of the most consistent cornerbacks in the league, Abraham made just one Pro Bowl (2000).
Abraham wasn’t a “look at me” showboating type cornerback, in fact he was fairly quiet but always a treat when dealing with the media. After leaving the Buccaneers in 2001, the “Iceman” as he was dubbed by Scott Reynolds, went on to play three more seasons for the Jets where he added seven more interceptions to his career tally. Abraham finished his NFL career with 441 tackles, 38 interceptions and five touchdowns with most of those numbers coming as a Buccaneer.
Jon Ledyard: Simeon Rice Should Be A Hall Of Famer
Because the Bucs do not have a rich offensive history, many fans and analysts tend to overrate some of their past offensive players. RB James Wilder, FB Mike Alstott, RB Warrick Dunn, WR Mark Carrier and TE Jimmie Giles were fine players, but simply role players/solid starters for most franchises. But in the same breath, the opposite happens on the defensive side of the ball. Because the Bucs had one of the league’s all-time great defenses, not all members of that unit get the praise they deserve.
The most obvious choice is Simeon Rice. For 5-and-a-half seasons, Rice was a terror in Tampa Bay, recording double digit sacks his first five years, including 14 or more three times. In an age where the league was just starting to become more pass-heavy, Rice was ahead of his time, bringing down quarterbacks at an astronomical rate. He also notched four interceptions, 19 forced fumbles and an absurd 37 pass breakups. On passing downs, Rice was as good as anybody.
Yet somehow, Rice was only a three-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro. He had a 15-sack and 16.5-sack season that didn’t generate an All-Pro nod during his career. If Rice played even ten years later, there would have been far more respect for his game. The fact that we don’t even talk about the 20th-ranked sack artist of all-time as a potential Hall of Famer is a crime. Rice’s numbers, tape and career success show a player that should be a shoo-in if the selection process were better.
Matt Matera: Rice Is Underappreciated
Is it possible that a player who ended up on Jon and Mark’s top 10 all-time Bucs list is still underrated? For Simeon Rice, that’s the situation. Rice should without question be in the Bucs’ Ring Of Honor, and he can also make the case for the Hall Of Fame. We posted a video from the Pewter Report Podcast talking about how good Rice was, and Bucs fans were in agreement.
We don't appreciate how great Simeon Rice was with the #Bucs.
Jon and Mark discuss his productivity during his time in Tampa Bay on the Pewter Report Podcast.
During his time with the Bucs from 2001 to 2006, Rice dominated as an edge rusher. Before Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul, there was Simeon Rice. You could sign him up for double digit sacks with ease. Excluding his 2006 season where he was mostly injured, Rice had years of 11, 15.5, 15 12 and 14 sacks. That’s just dominant in the era of football he played in, no argument there. The Bucs defense doesn’t get to where it was without the help of Rice.
And there’s the issue. As great as Rice was, there were even better players on defense. We all think about Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, John Lynch and Ronde Barber before Rice even pops up. It was such a historic defense filled with current and future (because Ronde Barber should be in) Hall Of Famers that Rice tends to get overlooked. All of them have earned it, but when it comes to the accolades, Rice should absolutely be up there with them as well.