James Wilder – RB (1981 – 1989)
Given some of the ball carriers the Buccaneers have had in recent, or dare we say more “successful” times, during the current uniform look, it may come as a surprise to some that the all-time leading rusher for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a player who spent his entire time in Tampa in the creamsicle uniforms, and the majority of it when the Bucs were the “Yucks”.
During his career, James Wilder was the epitome of a workhorse. During the 1984 season, the beginning of the end of the franchise, when the Bucs finished an ugly 6-10, Wilder carried the ball a whopping 407 times. He averaged 30 touches per game that year.
With 5,957 yards, he is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, ahead of guys like Warrick Dunn, Mike Alstott, Doug Martin, and others. Not only that, until Mike Evans came along with his 532 receptions, Wilder, a running back was the franchise’s all-time leader in catches with 430, and by a wide margin.
He may not get mentioned as much by younger folk who don’t appreciate history, or because he played for more Yucks than Bucs, but Wilder is the best running back the Buccaneers have had in the backfield, regardless of which uniform he wore.