It was far from an easy endeavor, but here is our attempt at ranking the 30 greatest players in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history.
In 1976, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks joined the NFL as expansion teams. Over the course of the 42 years since their arrival on the gridiron, the Buccaneers have experienced the highs and lows of any NFL franchise.
In the beginning they were bad, really bad. Actually, I don’t even know which word accurately describes losing the first 26 games in franchise history. On the bright side, that is still a record in the Super Bowl era (although the Cleveland Browns are inching closer with 17 consecutive losses).
Despite their rough first couple seasons, and the 14 consecutive losing seasons between 1982 and 1996, the Buccaneers have had some success. Obviously, the pinnacle was winning the Super Bowl at the end of the 2002 season. Jon Gruden, who was traded to Tampa Bay from the Oakland Raiders, took control of the team Tony Dungy built, leading the Buccaneers to their only championship to date.
However, since their championship the franchise has only made the playoffs twice (2005, 2007). Despite the lack of recent success, things are looking up for the Buccaneers with Jameis Winston, Gerald McCoy and Mike Evans all being impressive players.
The NFL regular season is right around the corner, and with the anticipation readying to boil over, I figured it would be a good time to try to rank the greatest players in franchise history. Qualities such as talent and longevity of tenure with the team are the focal points for this list, but other concepts such as being a fan favorite are also considered. Without any further ado, here are the 30 greatest players in Buccaneers franchise history.
Known affectionately as “The Muscle Hamster”, Doug Martin had a very polarizing six-season stint with Tampa Bay. During his rookie season, Martin nearly reached 1,500 rushing yards, finishing with 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns. In addition to what he did on the ground, Martin also proved he was a weapon in the passing game, as he brought in 49 receptions for 472 yards. Overall, that was 1,926 all-purpose yards. Needless to say, he impressed.
However, things weren’t all sunshine and roses during the rest of his time in Florida. In his next two seasons, Martin only played in 17 games and rushed for a total of 950 yards. He bounced back in the 2015 NFL season with another stellar campaign, accumulating 1,402 yards after appearing in all 16 contests.
Unfortunately, that would be the last time the Boise State product did anything of note for the Buccaneers. Injuries and a suspension robbed Martin of his 2016 and 2017 NFL seasons. After last season, the Buccaneers decided to head in a new direction with Peyton Barber, Jaquizz Rodgers and draft pick Ronald Jones.
Martin landed on his feet in Oakland with the new look Raiders under Gruden, but he will always be remembered as a Buccaneer. He finished his tenure with Tampa Bay in fourth place on the franchise’s all-time rushing list. Because of that, “The Muscle Hamster” squeaks into the final place on this list.