There are almost certain to be three Buccaneers players from the last 15 years voted into the NFL’s Hall of Fame once their required time has elapsed from retirement. There have been some borderline great Bucs who may have Hall of Fame resumes, but to me, three distinct players stand out. Those same three players stood out to the same people who vote for the NFL’s Hall of Fame Selection Committee. Yesterday, before the Pro Bowl, the NFL named its All Decade Team. Ronder Barber, Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp all were distinguished with that honor. Former Head Coach Tony Dungy was also one of the two coaches chosen.
Derrick Brooks - During the decade, he made Pro Bowls in every year except 2007 and 2009. He was a first team All-Pro 4 times, in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2005. He led the NFL in non-offensive TD’s in 2002 with 4, the same year he won the Defensive Player of the Year and the Bucs won the Super Bowl. That same year, he was 10th in the league in INT’s at 5, the only non-defensive back in the top 15. A good judge of players in all sports is a similarity score that is used in baseball mainly to determine “like” players. For DB his similar players are Mike Singletary, Lawrence Taylor, Jack Ham, Ray Lewis and Junior Seau. A Hall of Fame lock.
Ronde Barber – The only defensive back in NFL history with over 25 sacks and 25 INT’s, Ronde Barber has been one of the leagues premier defensive backs for over 10 years. He finished every season with at least two INT’s and 1 sack in the decade except for in 2006 and in 2009. In 2001 he led the league with 10 INT’s. He had over 50 tackles every year in the decade. He was named to Pro Bowl teams in 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008. He was a First Team All-Pro in 2001, 2004 and 2005. He is first in the league in active NFL players in non-offensive TD’s with 13. He is number in NFL history in non-offensive TD’s with 13. He is 3rd in NFL history in Fumble Return TD’s with 4. He is 8th in NFL history with 7 INT’s for TD. His similarity scores compare him to Herb Adderley, Lem barney, Willie WOod, Night Train Lane, Aeneas Williams, Mel Blount, Champ Bailey and Deion Sanders. All of those guys are Hall of Famers, or soon to be Hall of Famers. A Hall of Fame lock.
“Obviously, this is quite an honor,” said Barber. “To be singled out among the thousands of players who have played during the 2000s is pretty special. What it means to me is that the hard work I’ve put in all these years has paid off, and I’ve been fortunate to have a pretty successful career. I think the fact that it started, really, at top of this decade with a big year and has continued since then shows my resiliency. I think I’ve had a pretty good career and it’s rewarding to be recognized for it.”
Warren Sapp – One of the most disruptive interior pass rushers in NFL History, in my opinion, the real cog in our great defenses and the reason that we won a SB. He made Pro Bowls in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. He was a First Team All Pro in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He’s 28th in NFL History in Career Sacks. He is second in NFL history in sacks for interior lineman. Not only was he a great pass rusher, he was equally great at stopping the run. While he probably peaked near the start of the 2000′s he was still a dominant enough force to be named to the team. His similarity scores compare him to players like Deacon Jones, Henry Jordan, Dan Hampton, Willie Davis, Jack Youngblood, Randy White and Joe Greene, all of whom are Hall of Famers. In my mind, Sapp is a Hall of Fame lock. The fact that he was a prick might leave him off the first ballot, but he will eventually get in.