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PewterReport.com has periodically published its’ Top 25 All-Time Greatest Bucs list, updating the rankings due to recent inductions into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Buccaneers Ring of Honor, in addition to the emergence of star players on Tampa Bay’s current roster. The last time we published this list was the summer of 2014. Now, it’s time the PewterReport.com staff re-examined the careers of the most elite Tampa Bay players once again. We’ve re-ranked the list and expanded it to the Top 30 All-Time Greatest Bucs.

In this 10-part series, PewterReport.com’s Scott Reynolds analyzes each Bucs legend and offers up commentary on some of the best players in Tampa Bay history. Some of the rankings – and omissions – will likely cause some controversy among the Bucs fan base.

Let us know what you think. Bucs fans and PewterReport.com readers are encouraged to leave their opinions in the article comments section, on the Pewter Report message boards and on Pewter Report’s Twitter page, or Pewter Report’s Facebook page.

• All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 28-30
• All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 25-27
All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 22-24
All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 19-21
All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 16-18
All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 13-15
All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 10-12
All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 7-9
All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 4-6

It’s here – Pewter Report’s Top 3 All-Time Greatest Bucs. This list has been shuffled around since its last publication in 2017. Read on to see which player is deemed the greatest Buccaneer.

3. Buccaneers DE Lee Roy Selmon – 1976-85
Previous No. 3: DT Warren Sapp

As time has moved on, we’ve decided to move Selmon down one spot to No. 3. This has less to do with him. It’s just that Warren Sapp (2013) and Derrick Brooks (2014)– the next two Buccaneers inducted into the Hall of Fame after Selmon became the first in 1995 – accomplished more with winning Super Bowl XXXVII in 2002. Selmon still holds the all-time franchise record for career sacks with 78.5. Sapp (77) nearly broke that record, but fell two sacks short.

Selmon was the franchise’s first-ever draft pick as the No. 1 overall selection in 1976, and was an absolute hit. He recorded five sacks as a rookie and then established a single-season record for sacks with 13 in 1977. That record stood for decades until Sapp beat it with 16.5 in 2000. Selmon made his first of six Pro Bowls in 1979 and was also named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year after recording 11 sacks and 117 tackles. He led the league’s No. 1 defense that got the Bucs to the NFC Championship Game in 1979. Selmon was the first Buccaneer to have his jersey (No. 63) retired.

Bucs legendary DE Lee Roy Selmon

Bucs legendary DE Lee Roy Selmon – Photo: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Oklahoma product saw his career end abruptly after a back injury at the Pro Bowl in 1984. Selmon was a three-time first-team All-Pro, and was also named to the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team and the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team. Selmon was inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor in 2009. After his pro career was over, Selmon helped bring college football to Tampa as the University of South Florida athletic director before dying from a stroke at the age of 56.

Reynolds’ Take: “Selmon was called the ‘Gentle Giant’ because of his quiet and friendly demeanor off the field and his brutal, violent ways on the field attacking quarterbacks. Selmon was a tremendous athlete with a quick first step, great strength and long arms. He was a tenacious pass rusher and it’s a testament to how great he was that neither Warren Sapp nor Simeon Rice could top his all-time career sack record in Tampa Bay.

Selmon’s career was unexpectedly cut short in 1984, and his life was unexpectedly cut short in 2011 due to a fatal stroke. Selmon would have had more to give the Bucs and the NFL if not for his back injury, and he had more to give USF and the Tampa Bay community if not for his tragic, untimely death.”

2. Buccaneers LB Derrick Brooks – 1995-2008
Previous No. 2: DE Lee Roy Selmon

Brooks has held the top spot in previous rankings because he’s been the most decorated Buccaneer of all-time. Those accolades haven’t changed. Brooks is still atop the awards list with 11 Pro Bowl berths and five first-team All-Pro honors. Brooks was also a member of the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, as well as being named to the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team.

The 6-foot-1, 235-pound linebacker was selected in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft along with Sapp. He wound up playing 14 seasons in Tampa Bay through the 2008 season, setting several records along the way. When he retired, Brooks’ 221 starts were the most in team history. Now Ronde Barber owns the record with 232. Brooks’ 2,198 career tackles are still the most in Bucs history. Brooks’ 25 career interceptions rank as the fifth-most in Tampa Bay history.

Bucs Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks & Lee Roy Selmon - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks & Lee Roy Selmon – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Brooks turned in a season for the ages in 2002 as he recorded 118 tackles, forced five fumbles, intercepted five passes and returned three of those picks for touchdowns. The former Florida State star also returned a fumble recovery for a touchdown and then added another pick-six in Super Bowl XXXVII to help seal the Bucs’ win over the Raiders. Brooks was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2002.

Reynolds’ Take: “Brooks was nicknamed ‘The Don’ as in ‘The Godfather’ for his leadership role in Tampa Bay. He was a steadying influence in the huddle on game day, in the locker room and on the practice field for over a decade.

Brooks was one of the fastest linebackers in the NFL and could have had monster sack seasons if Monte Kiffin had blitzed him more. Instead he had just 13.5 career sacks because he was too valuable in coverage, usually erasing opponents’ tight ends and running backs, while breaking up 84 passes and picking off 24 others. Brooks was the prototype weakside linebacker in the Tampa 2 scheme and one of the most elite Bucs of all-time.”

1. Buccaneers DT Warren Sapp – 1995-2003
Previous No. 1 LB Derrick Brooks

Sapp is the greatest Buccaneer of all-time. For years Brooks was the greatest Buccaneer of all-time due to his illustrious 14-year playing career in Tampa Bay. The record-setting Brooks made 11 Pro Bowls and was the 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year in the Bucs’ Super Bowl season. So what made Sapp move ahead of Brooks four years later when we re-evaluated the Top 25 Greatest All-Time Bucs and expanded the list 30? Answer this question – if you were to start a franchise with Sapp, Brooks or Selmon – which player would you choose?

The answer is Sapp for many reasons. Great pass-rushing defensive tackles are hard to find – even harder to find than linebackers and defensive ends. Sapp was elite. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler and a four-time first-team All-Pro in his nine years in Tampa Bay. Sapp had three double-digit sack seasons, including a 16.5-sack campaign in 2000, which broke Selmon’s single-season team record. His 77 career sacks in Tampa Bay were two short of breaking Selmon’s career record, but they are the most for any Bucs defensive tackle.

Bucs Hall of Fame DT Warren Sapp

Bucs Hall of Fame DT Warren Sapp – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Sapp was brash, bold and nasty. Opponents feared him and Bucs fans loved him. He couldn’t be intimidated and his fiery leadership style was more akin to Hardy Nickerson’s than Brooks’ or John Lynch’s.

Sapp teamed with Brooks and Simeon Rice to help lead the Bucs to a Super Bowl XXXVII win in 2002, recording a sack in the championship game. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1999 when he recorded 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Sapp was named to the NFL 1990s and 2000s All-Decade Team. Sapp’s No. 99 jersey is retired and he was inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor after making the Hall of Fame.

Reynolds’ Take: “For years Mark Cook and I debated whether Sapp or Brooks was the best Buccaneer in team history. He would always ask me if I were starting a franchise – which player would I want? I knew the answer was always Sapp, and I finally got around to admitting that.

Sapp ruled the Bucs locker room with an iron fist and was the fire-starter and tempo-setter in practice. He willed the Yucs into becoming the Bucs in 1996 with the sheer force of his alpha personality and his ability to get to the quarterback. Sapp was an absolute game-wrecker and one of the best 3-technique defensive tackles to ever play the game. He’s also the best Buccaneer in team history.”

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

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: sr@pewterreport.com
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deeznuts
2 months ago

(1) Brooks,
(2) Selmon,
(3) Barber,
(4) Sapp,
(5) Lavonte David,
(6) Nickerson,
(7) Alstott,
(8) Gruber,
(9) Lynch,
(10) Wilder.

Captain Sly
2 months ago

The question “if I was starting a franchise who would I choose? Well 11 pro bowls vs 7 pro bowls originally swayed me to vote Derrick Brooks but then I started really thinking about the question. Who would I start my franchise with? Well Duh! 7x SB rings, 3x nfl mvp, 5x SB mvp, 14 Pro Bowls, The Greatest QB Of All Time, oh wait! Not supposed to talk about him because you ranked him 11th on your list. Sorry Tom

Dy-nasty D
Reply to  Captain Sly
2 months ago

Absolutely. And why isn’t Revis on this list? Where’s Steve Young?
As far as greatest Buc, it’s definitely Brooks, no question.

NC Greenbeard
2 months ago

I would have gone Brooks, Sapp, Barber, Selmon… but all had great careers and were obviously the cream of the crop for the franchise. While the argument is ultimately pointless, it’s fun to debate. I agree with Sly… I’d start the franchise with Brady if given the choice (and if we had him from his rookie year). But I think we have some good ones to pick from as far as best Bucs career. Hopefully in 7 more years we have more new blood in the rankings… means we’ve been successful! Go Bucs

Dy-nasty D
2 months ago

Wildly inconsistent. If we’re using the measure of who would you start a franchise with, where would that leave Alstott? Would he even break the top 20? 30? Seriously, pick a criteria and stick with it.

bucballer
Reply to  Dy-nasty D
2 months ago

The post is about the top 3 greatest Buccaneers of all time. Again, Selmon, Brooks, and Sapp! They named a freaking toll road after him. Lee Roy was a beast!

bucballer
2 months ago

Selmon, Brooks, and Sapp.

Horse
Reply to  bucballer
2 months ago

Exactly!

ScottC543
2 months ago

Mr Derrick Brooks.

Because character matters.

bucballer
Reply to  ScottC543
2 months ago

There was no greater character guy than Lee Roy Selmon!

Dman
2 months ago

I’d go with 99, but take those top three or top ten and we can have some fun debating it. All were great players!

Horse
2 months ago

Nobody ever dominated Lee Roy Selmon in any game. At times, even 3 blockers couldn’t stop him. He was the greatest DE of all time and his playing time was cut short due to an injury in the Pro Bowl game. I wish some of you could have watched him play; He never let up and went 100% once the ball was hiked. No way Sapp passes him!
Shame on you Scott. You hit another low for me.

gcolerick
Reply to  Horse
2 months ago

In your opinion, which is wrong by the way.

James Taylor
Reply to  gcolerick
1 month ago

Actually, his opinion is right. If you were going to start a franchise who would you pick? In 1976 the Buccaneers picked Lee Roy Selmon. In just four years with Selmon they would have the #1 defense, he would be NFL defensive player of the year, and the Bucs would make the NFC Championship game. Selmon was a two-gap 30 defensive end and is widely considered to be the greatest 30 of all time (by folks like Mean Joe Greene and Bill Belichick). Selmon took on two offensive lineman every play to maintain those two gaps. Sapp was a 3-technique… Read more »

Benjamin
2 months ago

Most of ya’ll who post on here have no idea how the game of football is played do you? When building a team you want to build it from the inside out not the outside in, why you ask? because a sack getting stud at 3-tech is harder to find than a DE, than a OLB. So Sapp should be #1 but Paul Grubber is #2 if you are having the team building debate. A stud LT is harder to find than a OG, a C, even Tristian Wirfs would be in contention at #2 for me.

Brandonges
2 months ago

You guys had it right last time. The greatest Buccaneer of all time is Mr. Derrick Brooks. Positional value shouldn’t be taken into consideration.

bucballer
Reply to  Brandonges
2 months ago

Lee Roy Selmon is the greatest Buc of all time! Case closed. Derrick Brooks is next. Followed by Sapp. Lee Roy was the consummate pro. The number one draft choice…as in THE first draft pick ever, in Buccaneer history. He was a dominating pro and a wonderful human being. Often referred to as the father of University of South Florida football and growing into a solid program. He was an icon in Tampa. Loved by all. Much deserved. RIP Mr. Selmon!

scubog
Reply to  bucballer
2 months ago

There are a hand-full of players whose careers were worthy of being the absolute best. Sadly, many of the frequent commenters here never witnessed #63 leading a team of other team’s cast-offs to the NFC Championship game with the NFL’s # 1 Defense. I try to respect the opinions of everyone else since they’re…….just opinions and “their truth”. Doesn’t make them or mine a fact. I don’t need statistics to judge a player. I watch the game. In my opinion, and I’ve seen them all live and in living color, Lee Roy is # 1. The rest you can arrange… Read more »

bucballer
Reply to  scubog
2 months ago

Agree scubog! Watching Selmon brothers play was awesome. These guys were cut from a different cloth! Gentlemen off the field and absolute beasts on the field!

Buc-Up
2 months ago

Selmon literally was the first Buccaneer ever and he lived up to the hype immediately! He was unstoppable and never took plays off. He made the players around him better. He did all of this as a DE in a 3-4 Defense. Imagine him as a DE in a 4-3 Defense and the impact he would’ve made. He would’ve set the NFL Sack Record. Brooks is second based on his career accomplishments and leadership. Sapp is third because he himself has said Selmon is the Greatest Buc of All-time and Brooks is second. “He set the standard way before me,… Read more »

bucballer
Reply to  Buc-Up
2 months ago

U r correct sir! I saw all the games Selmon played and he was a beast! A well respected beast. Of the highest of character as well. The young fans know nothing of the Selmon brothers. Dewey was a solid player as well!

Theerealdiehl
2 months ago

Scott, I’ll leave you with this:
I see your argument with who you’d rather start a franchise with and raise you with the question…

”who’s your favorite player????”

Mr. Derrick Brooks

James Taylor
2 months ago

Respectfully, anyone who saw Lee Roy Selmon play would call him the greatest Buccaneer player of all time. The Bucs DID start a franchise with him and he lead them to the NFC Championship in four seasons. The only knock on Selmon is the lack of longevity. So maybe you place Brooks in front of him, but not Warren Sapp. Selmon was game planned against every week and regularly double and triple teamed and he still made plays. He was a game wrecker who single handedly raised a ragtag group of cast offs and young players to the #1 defense… Read more »

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