We’ll start with the players who spent most of, if not all, of their careers with the Buccaneers. These are the players who are known as “true Bucs”, and coincidentally also all have the strongest cases to get to the Hall of Fame over the players who were here for a brief period. So let’s get to it.
Ronde Barber – DB (1997 – 2012)
Perhaps the greatest moment in franchise history was Ronde Barber’s pick-six of Donovan McNabb to shut down Veteran Stadium, slay the dragon that was the Philadelphia Eagles, and send the Bucs to their first Super Bowl, resulting in their first championship. Buccaneers fans have been screaming until they’ve been blue (or pewter) in the face trying to get Barber in the Hall of Fame, and he more than deserves to be the fourth member of that legendary defense of the late 1990s-early 2000s to be enshrined. Of course, he could also be the fifth…
Simeon Rice – DE (2001 – 2006)
Should Barber and Simeon Rice both get into the Hall of Fame, they would be the fourth and fifth members of that defense to get in, and they both deserve it. When Rice signed with the Bucs from the Arizona Cardinals in 2001, that legendary defense finally got over the hump. Rice was a force, recording double-digit sack seasons every year he was with the Buccaneers save for his final year in Tampa Bay when he only played in eight games. A case can also be made Rice should have been the MVP of Super Bowl XXXVII. His day in the sun should come soon.
Mike Alstott – FB (1996 – 2006)
Sticking with the 2002 Super Bowl champions, and also can’t forget the late 90’s and early 2000s as a whole, we have Mike Alstott. The A-Train is one of, if not the most popular Buccaneers of all time, and when you would watch him play, should you have been so fortunate, it’s easy to see why. If you weren’t able to see him play, YouTube is your friend kids, you won’t be sorry. While fullbacks are all but extinct now, that wasn’t always the case, and Alstott was so much more than that. He was a weapon. It would be a welcome sight to see the A-Train get a square-jawed bronze bust with no neck in Canton.
Hardy Nickerson – LB (1993-1999)
We mentioned earlier how Dungy was there for the building of a legendary championship defense, but not to get the ultimate reward. The same goes for Hardy Nickerson, and that really is a shame. The Buccaneers brought in Nickerson during the first year of true free agency as we know it today in 1993 after he spent six years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was a leader of the Buccaneers defense during the franchise’s dark days, the renaissance, and the team that came within a controversial call away from the Super Bowl in 1999, which proved to be his last game. Without his leadership, who knows what those young players around him would have been by 2002. “HARDY!” “HARDY!” “HARDY!”