Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
It’s time to kick off the Bucs Bracket competition, where we seek to determine the most popular Tampa Bay Buccaneer of all time. We start off today with the play-in games, just like the NCAA Tournament, which are the final players to enter the bracket. Our staff of writers submitted their picks for players to be included, and the first eight were chosen. These eight will face off for the right to move on to the opening round of the Bucs Bracket to face the number five seeds, Brad Culpepper, Tony Mayberry, Doug Williams, and Anthony McFarland.
Let’s get things started with our first matchup. We start off with Jeff Garcia versus James Brooks. Both are more well-known for their exploits outside of Tampa Bay, but hold a place in the hearts of some of the members of our staff. Let’s break down exactly what these two players did for the Buccaneers:
Jeff Garcia, Quarterback, 2007-2008
Brought in by Jon Gruden to add more veteran leadership to the quarterback position, Garcia was able to compete for and win the starting quarterback job in 2007. He started off very well and held the job all season, but suffered from injuries that would keep him off the field from time to time, and he did miss games near the end of the season. Garcia was a Pro Bowl Alternate who wound up making his way onto the field in Hawaii due to injury in 2007. In 2008, after all of the Brett Favre drama put a strain on the relationship between Gruden and Garcia, Jeff would lose his job after one week, only to re-gain it due to injury. Garcia would finish with a 14-10 record in his 24 starts for the Buccaneers and boasted at completion percentage of 64.4 with 25 touchdowns as compared to 10 interceptions.
James Brooks, Running Back, 1992
Much like Garcia, Brooks had a storied career before coming to Tampa Bay, and would never see the field as a starter after leaving Tampa. The four-time Pro Bowler only played in two games for Tampa Bay, but was a selection by a member of the staff to be included. I think Garcia will probably take this matchup, but we will include Brooks anyways.
Vote below for your favorite between James Brooks and Jeff Garcia:
Our next matchup features two defensive backs who were a part of the Buccaneers during the last decade.
Corey Ivy, Cornerback, 2001-2004
Ivy was not drafted and failed to catch on in the NFL right out of college, making a name for himself in the XFL, leading the league in interceptions in the only year the XFL existed (making him the all-time record holder for the league in the category). That was enough for the Buccaneers to bring him in and give him a chance, and he would appear in one game in 2001 before assuming a bigger role on the World Champion 2002 team. He appeared in all 16 games in 2002 through 2004, starting two games, and playing very well on special teams.
Dexter Jackson, Safety, 1999-2002, 2004-2005
It’s strange that a Super Bowl MVP would be so low in the seeding, but Jackson had such a short time as a prominent player with the Buccaneers that his valuable performance in the Super Bowl was a rare highlight. Jackson appeared in 73 games for the Bucs, logging eight interceptions and forcing three fumbles. It was his two interceptions in the Super Bowl against the Raiders that are more well-remembered, and cemented his name in the team’s history books.
Pick your favorite Buccaneer between Jackson and Ivy below:
Our next matchup is two players who made completely different impacts on the Bucs:
Matt Bryant, Kicker, 2005-2008
Bryant is most well-known for his 62-yard game-winning field goal to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles in 2006, but the kicker who got his first real chance in Tampa after being booted from the NFL by the Giants had an 83.1% field goal accuracy during his time in Tampa Bay. He struggled from beyond 50 yards, but was solid inside of 50, which makes his 62-yard game-winner that much more surprising. He endured an awful event during his career, playing shortly after the death of his infant son in 2008, but showed the resilience that made him one of our staff’s favorite Buccaneers.
Keenan McCardell, Wide Receiver, 2002-2003
He wasn’t in Tampa Bay for very long, but he was in town for the Super Bowl season, and left an impact on our staff as a result. The former Jaguar moved across the state to join the Bucs in 2002, and Keenan would cap off his first season in Tampa with two scores in the Lomardi Trophy winning effort. He would catch 14 touchdowns in his two years in Tampa Bay, and move on to less successful years in San Diego and Washington.
Pick your favorite in the poll below:
Our final matchup features two players who came to Tampa Bay for some of the down years recently, but still made their presence felt.
Micheal Spurlock, Wide Receiver, 2007-2008, 2009-2011
Spurlock was the first Buccaneer to return a kickoff for a touchdown in the regular season in the history of the franchise, breaking an extremely long drought. There’s not much more to say.
Kellen Winslow Jr., Tight End, 2009-2011
Winslow was a controversial figure, but was picked up at a time when the Buccaneers had few other options in the passing game. He would flourish, catching 218 passes in 3 seasons in Tampa, including 12 touchdowns. He was not a part of Greg Schiano’s plans, and was traded before the 2012 season, but he was certainly productive while he was in Tampa Bay.
PIck your favorite in the poll below:
Leave your comments below to tell us which players you feel strongly about, and we’ll use them as tiebreakers just in case! These polls will remain open for a week, so get your votes in, and share this article with friends so they can vote as well.