Buccaneers’ Jersey Countdown: Number 86


As we continue our countdown of the best Buccaneers ever to put on the jersey, who was the best player ever to wear number 86?

Time to continue our trip down memory lane with our beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  For the last month or so, we have been looking back at the talent that has passed through One Buccaneer Place.  The wins may have been scarce over the years, but the talent has not.

Who have been the best players?

Our journey is through the best players ever to come to town, by jersey number.  As we move to number 86, we talk about a guy that some of you probably remember, while some may need a refresher.

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His name is Karl Williams.

Williams joined the Bucs in 1996 as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M-Kingsville.  That year, as he did for most of his career, he was a backup wide receiver.  He posted 22 receptions for 246 yards.  Where he really began to ingratiate himself with Bucs’ fans was as a return man.  In the season’s final game, Williams ran back a punt 88 yards for a TD, helping his team to a 34-19 win the Bears.

1997 was Williams’ high mark as a receiver.  Starting seven games, Williams caught 33 passes for 486 yards and four touchdowns.  In a game against the Colts, Williams caught two passes, both for touchdowns, including the game-tying TD in the fourth quarter.  The Bucs eventually won the game 31-28.  He added 597 yards worth of punt returns and another touchdown, this time from 63 yards out.

For the rest of his career with the Bucs, which went through 2003, his impact was minimal as a receiver.  He never caught more than 24 passes or posted more than one receiving touchdown in a year.  His main impact was in the punt return game.  After a couple of off years in from 1998-1999, he returned more than 30 punts in each of the next three seasons.  To coincide with the increased workload, he also took a punt to the house in each of those seasons, the longest being an 84 yard scamper in 2001 against the Lions, helping the Bucs to a 20-17 win.

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In eight years in Tampa, Williams ran back 213 punts and scored five times, giving the fans an electric return man that they could really latch onto as a favorite, though he was only a backup wide receiver.

He was certainly the best player to wear the number 86.