Buccaneers have obvious replacement for Jon Gruden in Ring of Honor

James Wilder, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
James Wilder, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

The Buccaneers need to start deciding who will replace Jon Gruden in their Ring of Honor.

Jon Gruden is out of the Ring of Honor for the Buccaneers. Whether you agree with the decision or not, all fans should agree that the empty spot on Raymond James Stadium needs a new name.

Who should replace Gruden will lead to a decent amount of back and forth as fans and analysts try to decide who should take this prestigious spot, but the decision is easier than one would think.

Sure, obvious players like Lavonte David, Mike Evans, Bruce Arians, and Tom Brady will almost assuredly make it in down the road, but this honor isn’t for current players or staff. After a quick examination of Buccaneer history, the next name is obvious.

Seeing as all the impactful former coaches for the Bucs are in the Ring, this next person should be a player. Who would be better than the all-time leading rusher for the franchise, James Wilder?

Wilder checks every box on the list. Longevity? Wilder spent nine seasons in Tampa. Talent? Wilder has two of the best offensive seasons by any singular player in NFL history.

James Wilder was the offense in Tampa in 1984 and 1985. Whether it was on the ground or through the air, Wilder defined the role of a workhorse back in Tampa, and his offensive contributions to those teams should never be forgotten.

Some fans may argue against Wilder due to the fact that his production was inconsistent outside of two great seasons, but his averages per touch mostly stayed consistent throughout his career. The lack of subsequent 1,000-yard rushing seasons was far more a product of a lack of touches rather than a drop-off in talent.

Regardless of the numbers or other arguments, Wilder was undoubtedly one of the lone bright spots on a team that had very little going for it. Even after nearly 40 years, no Buccaneer running back has been able to top what Wilder largely accomplished over the course of two seasons, and a spot in the Ring of Honor looks like a more than fair way to recognize a great player for his contributions to the team.

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