The reasons behind the top 50
When I began compiling the list of the top 50 players in Buccaneer history, I began with a few little ground rules. The basis for selection was going to be simply on their careers in Tampa Bay (otherwise you would have had the likes of Joey Browner, Randall McDaniel and Dexter Manley in the list), it was going to encompass the entire 28-year history of the franchise (so as not to be overly influenced by the recent success of the franchise), and most importantly of all, it was going to be my choice!

So hence from the outset, I guess I was doomed to failure. Even the most scientific of polls would not produce a listing that everyone would agree with. Everyone? How about anyone? I suppose I am more fortunate than most fans in that I have met pretty much all the players on the list and know something of them off the field as well as on it. But I had to let some personal opinions be suppressed otherwise most Bucs UK members would know all too well that Trent Dilfer would have been ranked real high!

This listing has produced some great comment on the Bucs' own forum. Here are just a sampling of some of the postings:

GO-ORANGE 314 Karl Williams should not have been placed so high. I like the guy and everthing but come on. Why in the hell was Doug Williams placed so much higher than Brad Johnson??.....Johnson is the 11th highest rated QB in NFL history! and the 5th most accurate QB in NFL history!

MOE I think Mike Washington should have been placed a little higher on that list along with Donnie Abraham. And, I agree.. how is Karl that high up...? Mark Carrier was a WAY better WR. And, I don't see how you rank someone so high up that basically just does punts..? Oh, and I think Nickerson should be dropped a couple spots behind Sapp and Brooks IMO. He served the Bucs well..and was our only Pro Bowler for many years...but, Sapp and Brooks have passed him up.

BUCNATIVE This list is really a joke. What the hell is Paul Gruber doing before John Lynch? I also think Brian Kelly should be a little further up the list as well as Steve Deberg. There's a few on there I don't even remember at all. Steve Wilson? Mark Cotney?

DR.FUNKENSTEIN Warrick Dunn before Brad Johnson? Don't get me wrong, I loved when WD was runnin' for us, but for cryin' out loud, Brad was the QB at the helm that won a Super Bowl with us! Karl Williams should not ranked above Alstott, Ronde Barber, Ricky Bell, Brad Culpepper, Brad Johnson, as well as a few others.

UDING Any list that doesn't have LeeRoy Selmon at #1 is not accurate. Testaverde and Dilfer belong on a list of top 50 for sure.
So to answer some of the most telling questions on the list. Firstly of course, why James Wilder at the top ahead of the only Buccaneer in the Hall of Fame?

This is quite simply down to when I started following the Bucs. From 1982 onwards, the Bucs were pretty awful. And offensively, they only had one shining light and that was Wilder. He was run into the ground by John McKay and Leeman Bennett and never got the NFL-wide respect he deserved.

He is way ahead of everyone else in terms of rushing yardage for the Buccaneers and also tops the receptions' listing too. He could do it all, run, catch, block, even pass for a TD in one 1984 game in Green Bay. I missed many of Lee Roy's early years although I am well aware of his abilities on and off the field and he has a far better restaurant than Wilder too! But this is one choice I am sticking with and will defend to the early hours!

Hardy Nickerson was ranked above Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp simply because he was an inspiration when he arrived in 1993. Brooks and Sapp are great players on a great defense. For his first four years, Hardy was a great player on a terrible defense. He did more to turn the attitude of the team around on the field than anyone else and well deserved each of his Pro Bowl appearances.

Karl Williams at 12 produced some raising of eyebrows, especially as it was ahead of Mike Alstott at 14. I have long felt that "The Truth" has not received the respect he deserves. He has been a Buc since 1996 having made the team as an undrafted free agent. In the 20 years before he arrived, only once had a Buc returned a punt for a touchdown - he did it four times. He also has made some key receptions over the years without ever bring regarded as a serious receiving weapon. In contrast, the A-Train is a fantastic player and leads the franchise in touchdowns but be honest, six Pro Bowls?

Some of the comments from our American-based colleagues did make me laugh, especially the guy who criticised the order of selection and then admitted he had never heard of Steve Wilson and Mark Cotney. The words "wagon" and "band" spring to mind very quickly!

So do you agree with the listing? Is your favourite player higher or lower than you expected? Who else should have been included? Who should not have been? Mail me and let me know!

Paul Stewart, April 2004