As we continue our countdown of the best Buccaneers’ to wear the uniform, we move along to number 88. Who was the best player to wear it?
Traveling through Buccaneers’ history has been an interesting journey so far. As we have gone through the jersey numbers, we have been through the 90’s, seeing great defensive players like Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice, along with relative unknowns like our choice at number 98, Ray Seals. Known most often for defense, there have been many players to choose from on that side of the football.
Last time, we went to the jersey numbers in the eighties, a typically offensive number. We started with number 89 with a receiver by the name of Kevin House. Today, we move along to number 88. For this choice, we take things back to the very early days, when winning was a very rare occurrence.
The choice at number 88 is tight end Jimmie Giles. Does anyone remember him?
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Giles actually joined the league in 1977 as a third round selection by the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans for our younger readers). He came over to Tampa Bay prior to the 1978 season. In ’78, the Bucs’ third year in the league, Giles started ten games, posting 23 receptions for 324 yards and two touchdowns. The Bucs finished 5-11 that year, marking their third straight last place finish after joining the league.
Heck, at least they didn’t go winless. Progress, right?
The next year was 1979, and the Bucs’ rewrote the script that year, finishing 10-6 to win the NFC Central (no NFC South back then), and taking it to the conference title game before their season ended at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams, 9-0. That year, Giles started every game and posted 40 receptions for 579 yards and seven touchdowns. In the divisional playoff game against the Eagles, Giles posted a fourth quarter touchdown reception that turned out to be the game winner as the Bucs took the win by the score of 24-17.
1980 started a great run for Giles, as it was the first of three straight seasons that he was selected to represent the NFC in the Pro Bowl. That year, he caught 33 passes for 602 yards and four touchdowns. 1981 was his best year, as he posted 45 receptions for 786 yards and six touchdowns. His best game took place week three in a losing cause against the Bears, as Giles posted five receptions for 109 yards that afternoon.
In the strike-shortened 1982 season, he caught 28 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns.
After two sub par seasons, Giles returned to form in 1985, earning his fourth Pro Bowl selection. That year, he snagged 43 passes for 673 yards and a career-high eight touchdowns. Four of the scores came in a week seven matchup against the Dolphins, tying Earl Campbell for the most TD’s against the Dolphins.
He was gone after seven games of the 1986 season.
For his nine-year career in Tampa, Giles caught 279 passes, racked up 4,300 yards, and scored 34 times. Definitely the best guy to wear number 88.