Remembering the Super Bowl XXXVII Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers


I can tell you nearly every player on the defensive side of the Super Bowl XXXVII champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers off the top of my head. Forgive me, but it was 12 years ago today.

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We had our own “Legion of Boom” in Ronde Barber, Brian Kelly, John Lynch and Dexter Jackson, led by future Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. There were few weak spots on the defensive line, especially when you have guys, like Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice, being instructed by Rod Marinelli. You may have heard of him, too? Then, there was my favorite player of all-time, Derrick Brooks, along with Shelton Quarles. The ringleader of the entire defense was the man who popularized the Tampa 2 scheme, Monte Kiffin.

I absolutely love a good defense. I admire the grittiness and the crunch you would hear in a good, clean tackle. I loved the entire make-up of that team.

There were what you would call stars on the team, but the role players proved time and time again that they were also an extraordinarily vital piece to the Buccaneers’ success. And on that incredible January 26, 2003 night against the Oakland Raiders, the D gelled perfectly and brought us to our first (and only) Lombardi Trophy.

Usually, I prefer watching the Buccaneers play while seeing my nails getting chewed away and heart rate pumping to a point it should never be. What can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment. However, I enjoyed every minute of the Bucs’ 48-21 blowout win.

After the Buccaneers took a comfortable 27-3 on a Keenan McCardell eight-yard touchdown reception early in the third quarter, the defense stepped in, steered the ship and secured the victory. A 44-yard interception return by Dwight Smith. Then, Derrick Brooks took it to the house from 44 yards out after picking off Rich Gannon. And finally, Smith struck again (skip to 1:09 mark).

As head coach Jon Gruden joyfully wheeled Smith to the end zone, I was doing the same because the moment every Buccaneers fan dreamed of was coming true. I don’t know if I cried. I may have. Don’t judge me! But what I do remember is seeing every single replay of Super Bowl XXXVII, soaking in every highlight and knowing the eventual outcome.

The following day, I bought every newspaper I could find. Who knew when this moment was going to happen again? I admired every headline, every photo brought me back to that particular moment and the emotions coursing through me. It was a beautiful couple of days. It could’ve been raining, but I wouldn’t have cared.

Even though we only have one championship under our belt, not every fan can say that they experienced what we did on January 26, 2003 and the subsequent days that followed. Fast forward 12 years and we’re the worst team in the league. It may be a dark period in the franchise’s history, but on this day every year, we can remember this bright spot where we reached the mountaintop and no one can take that away from us.

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