As the season moves closer, we take a look back into Buccaneers’ history. Who are the best players to wear the uniform, by jersey number? We start with number 99.
Since their inception in 1976, the Buccaneers have gone through many epic failures. They won two games over their first two seasons. They have had memorable success as well, winning a Super Bowl under the leadership of Jon Gruden. Through it all, the Bucs have had a rich history of talented players.
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But who have been the best?
Today, we start a countdown, looking at the best Bucs’ in franchise history, by jersey number.
We start with number 99, and that choice was very easy. The discussion starts and ends with Warren Sapp.
Sapp was drafted in the first round of the 1995 draft. The Bucs selected him 12th overall, and many thought he would go higher. However, rumors flew on draft night. The Sun-Sentinel wrote that Sapp failed multiple drug tests while in school at Miami. These rumors took him out of the top ten, in a similar fall to the 2016 fall of Laremy Tunsil.
The Bucs made their choice, and Sapp proved to the world why he was named by Bleacher Report as one of the 25 most surprising draft falls.
Sapp started eight games as a rookie, posting three sacks. He started every game but one for the rest of his nine-year career in Tampa, and opposing quarterbacks never forgot about him.
After a 1996 season which saw Sapp post nine sacks, he went on a tear, making the Pro Bowl every year, starting in 1997 and continuing the rest of his career in Tampa. He also was named first team All-Pro in four straight seasons (1999-2002).
During the run of Pro Bowl appearances, Sapp posted double-digit sack totals in three separate seasons, but his best work came from 1999-2000 when he posted 29 sacks over the two years (12.5 in 1999, 16.5 in 2000).
He came to play in the postseason, posting five tackles and one sack in the run to the Super Bowl title against the Oakland Raiders. Sapp helped lead a dominant Bucs’ defense to a 48-21 win over the Raiders.
In 2013, Sapp was given the highest honor the Bucs can give out, inducting him into the Ring of Honor. That same year, he earned the highest honor that an NFL player can receive, as Sapp was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
He has had some well-documented problems off of the field, granted. But, he will be remembered for his dominance on the field, and he will be remembered in Bucs’ history as by far the best player ever to wear number 99.