As we continue our countdown of the best Buccaneers’ ever, who was the best player to wear number 87.
Over the last several weeks, we have been taking a trip down Buccaneers’ memory lane. Who are the best players ever to wear the jersey? We have been counting down by jersey number, determining who deserves the honor. We have been through numbers 90-99, highlighting some of the best players to ever go through Tampa.
We have begun our journey through the numbers 80-89. So far we have covered number 89, talking about a guy named Kevin House, and number 88, when we reached way back to the beginning to talk about Jimmie Giles. For number 87, we look back into the more recent past, for a guy that played for Jon Gruden and helped the Bucs to a Super Bowl title.
Who is it? Keenan McCardell, that’s who.
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He may have only been in town from 2002-2003, but his impact won’t be forgotten.
McCardell actually began his career in Cleveland with the Browns, before becoming a more household name in 1996 when he joined the Jaguars. There he played opposite Jimmy Smith to form the dynamic duo with Mark Brunell that went to an AFC title game in ’96, the team’s second year of existence. With the Jags, Keenan averaged over 1,000 yards receiving during his six-year tenure, and went to the Pro Bowl in ’96.
McCardell signed with the Bucs prior to the 2002 season. Working with Keyshawn Johnson on his opposite side, McCardell filled a secondary role perfectly, posting 61 receptions for 670 yards and six touchdowns. Against the Atlanta Falcons, McCardell posted two touchdowns, including one when the game was still in doubt with the Bucs up only 14-3. The final that day was 34-10 in favor of the Bucs.
In the Super Bowl win over the Raiders, McCardell posted two touchdown receptions to put the game out of reach, en route to the 48-21 win.
The next year, Keyshawn was involved in a lengthy holdout that ultimately led to his trade to Dallas. How did McCardell respond? By becoming the team’s number one receiver and posting his second of two Pro Bowl performances. That year, he caught 84 passes for 1,174 yards and eight touchdowns. He went over 100 yards for separate times that year, proving he didn’t need Jimmy Smith or Keyshawn Johnson to help him perform.
Unfortunately, that led to a nasty contract squabble, and McCardell was gone. But, not before he proved himself as the best player to wear number 87 for the Bucs.