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.
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?
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.
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.