Buccaneers 2002 vs. 2020: Which is more complete Super Bowl team?
By Rob Leeds
Buccaneers in the Super Bowl: 2002 vs. 2020
Only two teams in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers history have ever made it to the Super Bowl. The 2002/2003 team has been the one reason why the franchise hasn’t been a complete disaster during its time in the NFL, but the 2020/2021 team is starting to make a name for itself with its current opportunity.
While it seems inconceivable to believe that any Buccaneer team could ever come close to the one that won the Super Bowl, this roster is making a compelling case as one of the best in team history, and they will get a shot to prove themselves and win a championship of their own next week.
The Buccaneers’ dominance in 2002/2003 en route to the Super Bowl feels impossible to recreate, but the current team is entering the conversation, so a comparison is worthwhile.
While we don’t want to forget or take lightly what that team in 2002 accomplished, we also can’t enshrine them as the greatest team ever without the opportunity for challengers. Believing that the mountain top has already been reached two decades ago would leave the franchise in a sad state.
With that being said, the path through the playoffs has been more difficult for this iteration of the Buccaneers, and both sides of the ball have had to step up more than the ’02 team.
In 2002, the Bucs faced off with Donovan McNabb, Jeff Garcia, and Rich Gannon on their path to the playoffs. While the Buccaneers will play an extra game as a wildcard team this time around, they have currently beaten Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers and will have to beat Patrick Mahomes to win their second Lombardi Trophy.
McNabb was a consistently good quarterback, and Gannon was coming off a career season, but Bucs fans are familiar with Garcia and his painful mediocrity. Even adjusted for era, neither of the three quarterbacks hold a candle to what Brees, Rodgers, and Mahomes will be remembered for.
It’s a huge if to assume, but if the Buccaneers win the Super Bowl, they will have defeated two clear first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterbacks and one that could easily go down as the best of all time to round out three.
Outside of quarterbacks, the Buccaneers of ’02 did defeat several all-time great wide receivers in Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice. Still, Michael Thomas, Davante Adams, and Tyreek Hill aren’t pushovers in the modern, pass-heavy era.
No one would argue the 2002 Buccaneers had a cakewalk to the Super Bowl, it was extremely difficult against several all-time great players, but the 2020 Buccaneers have accomplished even more in their pre-Super Bowl playoff wins, and they are building a case as the most complete roster in team history.