FAB 4. Bringing Some Order To The Bucs Ring Of Honor

Congratulations are in order for former Tampa Bay head coach Tony Dungy’s selection for the Bucs Ring of Honor this year. Dungy is credited for turning the franchise around upon his hire in 1996 and ending the Bucs’ playoff drought after 13 seasons in 1997. Dungy hired a tremendous staff that featured four men – Herman Edwards, Lovie Smith, Rod Marinelli and Mike Tomlin – that would go on to become head coaches in the league.

Together with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, Dungy helped build one of the best defenses in NFL history, featuring the likes of Pro Bowlers in Hardy Nickerson, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Ronde Barber. That nucleus, aside from Nickerson, who left the Bucs in 2000, helped lead Tampa Bay to its first and only Super Bowl title in 2002 – the season after Dungy was fired.

Former Bucs head coach Tony Dungy - Photo by: Getty Images
Former Bucs head coach Tony Dungy – Photo by: Getty Images

I won’t step on Mark Cook’s toes after he wrote a very heartful tribute to Dungy by going on about him. Cook’s tribute did him justice in that regard. As some one who covered every minute of Dungy’s tenure in Tampa Bay, I echo a lot of Cook’s sentiments – minus wearing Bucco Bruce footie pajamas.

But what I do object to is the order in which Dungy was selected for induction into the Bucs Ring of Honor. He’ll be the 12th former member of the organization to have his name affixed to Raymond James Stadium and illuminated. I think Dungy’s name should have been called sooner.

In fact, if we could go back in time I would reorder the Bucs Ring of Honor inductees and bring a little more order to the process. The Glazer family, which owns the Buccaneers, doesn’t discuss the selection process publicly, and at times it has seemed to lack some rhyme and reason.
Here is a list of the 12 members of the Bucs Ring of Honor, including Dungy, and the years in which they were inducted.

Order Of Bucs Ring Of Honor Inductees
2009: DE Lee Roy Selmon
2010: Coach John McKay
2011: TE Jimmie Giles
2012: LT Paul Gruber
2013: DT Warren Sapp
2014: LB Derrick Brooks
2015: FB Mike Alstott and QB Doug Williams
2016: SS John Lynch
2017: Owner Malcolm Glazer and Coach Jon Gruden
2018: Coach Tony Dungy

Tampa Bay has inducted one person per year 10 times into the Bucs Ring of Honor, and two people per year twice, including last year when Glazer and Gruden were both inducted in two separate ceremonies. The other time that happened was in 2015 when the curious pairing of Williams and Alstott occurred.

I find that the order with which the Glazers have selected these members is rather curious. I understand that the order in which the members have been inducted isn’t meant to be a ranking of their importance to the team’s history, but perhaps it should have been. Why have Giles third and Gruber fourth ahead of more accomplished Bucs players?

Former Bucs CB Ronde Barber - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Former Bucs CB Ronde Barber – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

I guess the fact that Gruber and Giles have gone in before the likes of more accomplished players like Ronde Barber or Hardy Nickerson – let alone Sapp, Brooks and Alstott – bothers me a bit. The fact that McKay and his .335 winning percentage (44-88) got in head of Dungy or Gruden irks me a little.

I understand that every member of the Bucs Ring of Honor member outside of Jon Gruden has worn the Bucco Bruce logo for at least one year. That tells me the Glazers wanted to recognize the team’s past before putting more recent players like Barber or Simeon Rice that only wore pewter and red into the Bucs Ring of Honor.

I get that, but does that mean that James Wilder, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, all-time leading receiver (in terms of catches) and all-time offensive yardage leader will be left out? If so, that’s a crime.

I’ve written about Nickerson deserving to be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor, in addition to campaigning for Barber to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame – and thus the Bucs Ring of Honor, too. I’ve also had my eyes opened to how dynamic of a player Wilder was for Tampa Bay, and he too deserves inclusion. Will that ever happen?

So I’ve compiled a list of the members I would have put into the Bucs Ring of Honor in the order in which they should have been inducted, while being mindful of when the players hung up their cleats for good. I have no problem putting in players out of chronological order based on the era in which they played.

SR’s Order For The Bucs Ring Of Honor
2009: DE Lee Roy Selmon
2010: LB Derrick Brooks
2011: DT Warren Sapp
2012: Owner Malcolm Glazer and Coach Jon Gruden
2013: Coach Tony Dungy
2014: LB Hardy Nickerson
2015: CB Ronde Barber
2016: FB Mike Alstott
2017: SS John Lynch
2018: DE Simeon Rice
2019: Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin
2020: Coach John McKay
2021: QB Doug Williams and TE Jimmie Giles
2022: LT Paul Gruber
2023: RB James Wilder
2024: RB Warrick Dunn
2025: LB Shelton Quarles
2026: DT Gerald McCoy

Now here is a little explanation. Selmon, Brooks and Sapp are the undisputed top three Buccaneers of all time. They deserved to go in first. Next up is the most successful owner in franchise history in Glazer, followed by the all-time winningest head coach and Super Bowl-winning coach in Gruden.

Dungy comes next for turning the franchise around and taking the Bucs to three straight playoff appearances from 1999-2001, in addition to a playoff year in 1997. Nickerson deserves to be the fourth player to go in as his leadership helped Brooks, Sapp, Lynch and Barber develop their leadership skills under his watch. Barber is the fifth-best Buccaneer of all time and the franchise’s best defensive back, followed by Alstott, the greatest offensive player – in terms of Pro Bowls – and touchdown producer in team history.

Former Bucs LBs Hardy Nickerson and Derrick Brooks - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Former Bucs LBs Hardy Nickerson and Derrick Brooks – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Lynch and Rice round out the Super Bowl greats, followed by Kiffin, who has won more games as a Buccaneer than any player or any coach because his tenure transcended both the Dungy and Gruden eras. McKay is next because in reality he is the third best coach in team history behind Gruden and Dungy – despite being the franchise’s first head coach.

It’s only fitting to have Williams go in right after McKay, and to go with Giles, his favorite target. Gruber, like Nickerson, played several years in orange and white as well as red and pewter, and was a key transition player that helped the team win. Wilder is next, followed by Dunn, who had a good career in Tampa Bay, but not as spectacular as that of Wilder.

Quarles, who ranks fourth all-time on Tampa Bay’s tackle list, goes in next because he helped the Bucs win a Super Bowl and has served the organization well in the scouting department over the last decade since he’s retired. McCoy will have been retired by 2026 and his greatness should be rewarded at that time.

Do you agree or disagree with my list? I want to hear what you think. Leave your thoughts and critiques in the comments section below.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th 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 son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

33 COMMENTS

  1. I like the energy and experience Buckner has!
    On a unrelated subject can anyone tell me what to do with PR I CAN NOT give thumbs up or down. I have emailed them 2 times no response and called no response.

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    • You called them over that?? In addition to 2 emails? It’s such a trivial thing.

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      • Your Opinion is your Opinion.

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    • We are working on it.

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      • Thank You.

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  2. Is Buckner the DC in waiting, and, if so, how long do the Bucs wait?

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    • I believe he is but I don’t know how long they wait. Depends what the defensive production is outside of the d-line!

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    • Buckner may need to be HC in waiting.

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  3. I know one thing, those are some big boys up front now!

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  4. It’s interesting to hear Licht talk about taking guys off the board for character issues, yet he drafted Jordan Whitehead. Whitehead was suspended for three games by Pitt last season for an undisclosed violation of team policy. Also interesting is that there were consensus higher ranked safeties still on the board. I really hope that pick pans out!

    On your podcast last week, Mark and Trevor were adamant that Derwin James would have been the better pick. They kept calling Vea a “complementary” player because he would be on the field less than James. My response: so what? Even though a starting safety is on the field more often, what percentage of plays do they actually affect? Meanwhile, Vea will affect things just about every play he is on the field. Also, James didn’t impress last year. FSU defense was soft and weak, where was James? That’s the reason he slipped to 17.

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  5. Are we there yet? No! But we are pretty close. We’ve had the offensive skill pieces in place and with the addition of a quality RB or two, they have the table set to be a complete offense. A couple of questions remain on the O-Line, but I think those questions will be answered in training camp. The defense on paper looks to be significantly improved – and as Scott opined, the depth is substantial. The secondary is a work in progress, but the draft pieces added will be an upgrade and should benefit from the improvements in the D-Line.

    So what’s left? All eyes should be on the coaching. GM Licht went all out to give them the pieces to be successful. Now it’s incumbent on the coaches to mold and shape this team into a contender. On this front I should be more optimistic, but we shall see. No excuses! Bucs win!

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  6. Good Article Scott! I’ve got a concern as to the third backup QB? Why Griffin and a small guy like Allen? I believe this will force us to use a 3rd or 4th round pick for our back up. We obviously won’t know our answers as to where we stand at CB until a couple games into the regular season. Still not sure where we will actually stand in game wins, but it’s better than last year for sure. Go Bucs!

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  7. David Logan deserves consideration for RoH.

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    • I agree!!!

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  8. There comes a time when mistakes bite you and paying JJP so much money cost Bucs a shot at Dez Bryant .
    Jamies could have used Dez more than any other QB in league .

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    • Did you really just say that? So the Bucs, who had one of the worst pass rushes in NFL history last year, should have not signed JPP, to have a chance to sign a WR Dez Bryant(not a position of need) who’s a complete head case with basically no playoff experience. You realize that Jameis if you just take the games he started and finished, was on a 16 game pace of almost 5000 yards, 30 total TD’s, 64.5%, at 8.2 YPA and a QB Rating of over 100. The Bucs had a top 5 passing offense, as the absolute worst pass rush I’ve seen in a long long time. So yeah let’s take Dez Bryant, over JPP. You’re a clown

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      • Could of wood should does not count in NFL his average rating 88 over three years 92 last year
        I know it not what blind fans want here , you need back out yardage for lost Fumbles and INTs Dammm
        Jamies loses 70% of games he starts because of INT and lost fumbles ,
        You can not bring Defense tired back on field 2 times a game and still have functional Defense and win games . He needs stop throwing INT if Bucs want win.

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    • Bryant is nothing but trouble.

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  9. Dez Bryant!? Are you high?

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    • The Defense needs stay on sidelines more this year , JJP is not the same as he once was Giants dumped him for a reason . Does not seem any one in Bucs land get it
      Giants would have keep him if he was worth the money, they not total stupnickles . New style defense at Giants has nothing to do with it. He was sent to Bucs so Giants could use money get better players.
      Maybe Perter fans think Giants sent him here to make the Bucs a better team cause they are such nice guys.

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      • Who the heck is JJP?

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    • 69 catches for 838 yards is 2017 must be pretty bad in your book

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      • Looks like an over the hill guy to me.
        133 targets were the 12th most in the league and he was the 36th rated receiver in yards.

        Other comparisons.
        Rishard Matthews with 87 targets and 837 yards
        Julio Jones with 148 targets and 1639 yards

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  10. Licht is talking out of both sides of his mouth when he discusses how important character is in the locker room while spending a 4th round pick on a guy in Jordan Whitehead who was suspended, not 1, not 2, but 3 games THIS year due to a violation of team rules.

    Does Whitehead interview well? Sure. So did ASJ. As PR knows all to well, ASJ is great about telling you what he thinks you want to hear. I’m not sure how he is that different from Whitehead, who used questionable judgment in declaring for the Draft early, despite a less than stellar season and multiple week suspension on his resume.

    Don’t forget that MJ Stewart was suspended along with Mike Hughes as a Soph in UNC for punching a guy If you’re going the character route, Licht passed on Shaquem Griffin and A&M Captain and 4-year starter Armani Watts, neither of whom were ever suspended.

    There’s certainly a gray area when it comes to off-the-field problems; you have your busts like Johnny Manziel, Justin Blackmon and Randy Gregory. You also have some all-time good players like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Lawrence Taylor, Cris Carter, Dez Bryant, Aquib Talib and many others who more than panned out for their teams despite their personal problems.

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  11. Great piece Scott, love your ring of honor rankings! And see it just made me revisit the moment they let Warrick Dunn go and how upset I really was over it lol. I’m excited to see what coach Buck can get out of the guys this year. Should be fun to watch!

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  12. Buc ass Bob, you literally have no idea what you’re talking about.

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    • I think he’s a Cowboy ass.

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  13. I literally have no clue how the way the Dline plays is up to the Dline coach and not the defensive coordinator. So Smith let Hayes have them stunt the majority, yet Buck will have them going straight. That stuff affects the whole defense. The fact that Smith didnt stop that nonsense last year is mind boggling to me. He left it to the position coach. He says the 10 yard cushion is up to the DB. Unreal. I just dont get it. The guy had better get it together this year. He needs to make the rules for all the positions or its not gona get better. Get all the different players you want but if theyre not all doing the best thing to complement each other it aint working. Cmon Smitty get it together.

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  14. Great insight as always, Scott. I always look forward to the Fab 5 and the cover 3.

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  15. Great insight as always, Scott!

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  16. I’m excited to see this defense this year! It’s far too early to be sure but right now DL is looking like it’ll give the LB group some competition for strongest unit on the team.

    Hopefully our DC will get together with the position coaches and figure out how to play to the players’ strengths rather than trying to put square pegs in circle holes as he did last year. Smith had a good year in 2016 so if he can get back to that we will be dangerous!

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  17. Can’t wait to see that 3,206-pound Syracuse try-out safety get onto the field. I bet he can redirect the route of any receiver in the league.

    Fab 5 is an entertaining read, as always. Man, NFL off-season goes on too long!

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  18. The Ring of Honor selection process has as much to do with the popularity of the guys selected as it is about the perceived magnitude of their actual contribution to the team, don’t you think, Scott?
    How else do you explain the fact that Alstott and Lynch are already enshrined? They were both very good players, but certainly not great players. They were both popular as hell with the fans, though.

    The fact that Wilder has been forgotten by so many fans is a real shame. I think it comes down to him playing during a time when the Bucs just absolutely sucked! For several years, Wilder was the only real offense the Bucs had.

    As for McKay – I don’t see how you can even begin to compare his ‘worthiness’ of inclusion into the Ring with Dungy’s. They coached in two completely different eras, for two completely different owners. McKay had to deal with an expansion franchise, no free agency, and cheap-ass owner Culverhouse signing (or NOT signing) the checks. McKay built that mess into a conference contender in four years. Dungy faced his own hurdles, but you can’t say he was worthy of earlier inclusion in the Ring. McKay was here first, so McKay was honored first. Both McKay and Dungy deserve to be in the Ring, and both will be, now.

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