NFL Nation: Lee Roy Selmon

In his 24-minute Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech, Derrick Brooks thanked dozens of people from every stage of his career.

There were plenty of emotional moments, but one stood out to me: when Brooks thanked the late Lee Roy Selmon, the first draft pick and the first Hall of Famer in the history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“Lee Roy set the standard, and we’re just trying to walk the path he set for us," Brooks said.

Selmon was much more than a football player. He was elegant, classy and heavily involved in the Tampa Bay community long after his playing days were over. Selmon left this world too soon, and he left a void in Tampa Bay.

But now that void is being filled. Brooks is as close to Selmon as you can get. Of course, Brooks was a tremendous football player. But, like Selmon, Brooks is so much more. Brooks now is the biggest icon in the Tampa Bay region, but he wouldn’t like hearing that. That’s because Brooks is especially humble.

That was best demonstrated when Brooks asked all his Buccaneers teammates who made the trip to Canton, Ohio, to stand and be recognized.

“Please stand up and let me bow and salute you guys," Brooks said.

Brooks had plenty of help. But, perhaps more than anyone, Brooks was responsible for turning around a dismal franchise.

“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers [were] the team that invented losing," said ESPN’s Chris Berman, who served as the master of ceremonies.

Brooks was drafted in 1995 by a team that hadn’t had a winning season since 1982. Joining forces with coach Tony Dungy and teammates such as Warren Sapp, Hardy Nickerson, John Lynch and Ronde Barber, Brooks ushered in the most successful era in franchise history. The Bucs became regular playoff contenders and, eventually, Super Bowl champions.

Brooks last played in 2008, but he’s more visible than ever. Brooks founded a high school in Tampa, does all sorts of charity work and works as the president of the Tampa Bay Storm.

“As a servant leader, I just want to do the best I can to make something better when I come into touch with it," Brooks said.

Brooks always has made the things he comes into contact with better. Selmon started that path, but now it’s Brooks’ turn to follow in the footsteps.

Warren Sapp headed to Hall of Fame

February, 2, 2013
NEW ORLEANS -- Warren Sapp is headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The former Tampa Bay defensive tackle was selected in his first year of eligibility. He becomes just the second player to spend the bulk of his career with the Bucs to make the Hall of Fame. Defensive end Lee Roy Selmon was the first.

I just got finished with a very lengthy voting process. I’ll be back in a bit with analysis on Sapp’s selection.

Freeman, Bucs breaking new ground

November, 15, 2012
Josh FreemanCary Edmondson/US PresswireTampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman is directing the league's third-highest scoring offense.

This really has been true for only five weeks, but I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the most exciting offense in franchise history and they have a true franchise quarterback for the first time.

Start thinking about the history of this franchise because that’s a part of why I feel comfortable making those statements. We’ll run through that inglorious history in just a moment, but let’s start with the past five games.

In that stretch, Josh Freeman, who entered the season as a huge question mark, has established himself as a big-time quarterback. Rookie running back Doug Martin has become such a phenomenon that he finally might have shed that nickname he doesn’t like. And wide receiver Vincent Jackson has turned out to be worth every penny of that five-year, $55 million contract he signed back in March.

In each of the past five games, the Bucs have scored at least 28 points. When’s the last time that happened?


What’s happened in the past five games has vaulted the Bucs into the league lead in average yards per play (6.21). They’re averaging 28.9 points per game, which ranks them behind only New England (see Brady, Tom) and Denver (see Manning, Peyton). Speaking of Peyton Manning, he’s second in the league with an average of 8.20 yards per pass attempt. Freeman is No. 1 at 8.27.

Martin had a 251-yard, four-touchdown game at Oakland and has turned out to be the “all-purpose back’’ that coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik talked about on the night they drafted him.

Jackson’s leading the league by averaging 21.4 yards per reception. Heck, teammate Mike Williams is second at 18.3.

Heck, if this keeps up, we might be calling Freeman, Martin and Jackson “The Triplets’’, the way Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin used to be referred to in their Dallas glory days. At times, some people got carried away and called the Cowboys’ stars “The Quadruplets’’ because they actually thought Alvin Harper was good.

That’s a perfect way to jump back into the history of offensive football and the Buccaneers. Harper was the receiver the Bucs signed in the mid-1990s to be their Irvin. Instead, the thing most Tampa Bay fans remember about him is that he got part of his finger sliced off in a training-room accident.

For their entire existence, including the good years, the Bucs have been anywhere from dismal to mediocre on offense. They won a Super Bowl with Brad Johnson as their quarterback and Monte Kiffin commanding a defense for the ages. They won a lot of games and tasted their first sustained success under coach Tony Dungy ... with Kiffin commanding a defense for the ages.

At one point in the 1990s, Tampa Bay’s bread-and-butter offensive play was having Errict Rhett run into Mike Alstott’s back and fall as far forward as possible. They later upgraded and had Warrick Dunn run into Alstott’s back and actually make a cut or two.

Even back during the first rise to prominence (1979), Tampa Bay was much more defined by Lee Roy Selmon and the defense than it was by the offense and Doug Williams.

Speaking of Williams, he was the best quarterback in franchise history -- until Freeman’s emergence. Between them, the Bucs have trotted out the likes of Steve Young (before he became Steve Young in San Francisco), Vinny Testaverde, Craig Erickson, Trent Dilfer, Shaun King, Brian Griese and Jeff Garcia.

[+] EnlargeDoug Martin, Mike Williams, Vincent Smith
Matt Stamey/US PresswireA supporting cast that features receivers Mike Williams (19) and Vincent Jackson (83) and running back Doug Martin makes the Bucs' offense so fearsome.
Although Young, Testaverde and Dilfer had talent, they never had a chance in Tampa Bay because they didn’t have a supporting cast. Williams was easily the best quarterback in Tampa Bay history, but I’m not sure you can call him a franchise quarterback because his tenure lasted from 1978 until he left for the United States Football League in a contract squabble following the 1982 season.

Freeman’s not going to follow a similar route. He’s under contract through 2013, but, after what he’s shown this season, I think it’s safe to say Freeman’s going to be around a lot longer than that. Sometime in the offseason, the Bucs almost certainly will give Freeman a big contract extension.

Freeman has bounced back from the disastrous final season of the Raheem Morris era. He’s turned out to be everything Schiano and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said he would be upon their arrival. Schiano and Sullivan said they wanted to build an offense that ran the ball consistently and they wanted to take some shots downfield in the passing game.

That formula’s working. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Freeman leads the league with 19 completions on throws of 20 yards or more. Jackson leads the NFL with 10 receptions on throws of 20 yards or more.

Williams has revived a career that seemed to stall last year. The Bucs plucked receiver Tiquan Underwood off the scrap heap and he’s turning in big plays. Martin is making things happen in the running game and as a receiver and the offense is clicking, despite the fact the Bucs are without injured Pro Bowl guards Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph.

For the longest time, there was a joke in Tampa Bay that the most exciting offense the region ever saw was the “Fun and Gun’’ orchestrated by Steve Spurrier and the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits, who, briefly, were more popular than the Bucs in the 1980s.

Those Bandits were wildly entertaining, but part of the reason they’re so fondly remembered is because the Bucs always were boring -- and usually bad -- on offense.

Until now.

Final Word: NFC South

December, 2, 2011
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 13:

[+] EnlargeLee Roy Selmon
Manny Rubio/US PresswireThe Bucs will wear throwback uniforms Sunday, hoping for results like the teams led by Lee Roy Selmon used to get.
Creamsicle time: The Buccaneers will be wearing their throwback uniforms against Carolina. Yeah, the orange and white uniforms are back. Might not be a bad thing, because at least in the days of Lee Roy Selmon and John McKay the Bucs actually were capable of playing very good defense. Tampa Bay has a (slightly) better record than Carolina, and the Bucs are playing at home. But I have a tough time seeing a Tampa Bay win, unless the defense suddenly starts making some tackles. Since Week 5, the Bucs have allowed an average of 30.6 points per game. Only the Colts (31.3) have allowed more. The Bucs also are allowing a league-worst 6.5 yards per play in that span.

Breaking in the rookie: After losing Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart to injuries, the Texans are expected to start rookie quarterback T.J. Yates against the Falcons. Good luck with that. Since 2002, the Falcons are 11-1 when facing a rookie quarterback. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the only team with a better record against rookie quarterbacks in that span is the Steelers (14-1).

Happy (almost) anniversary: Atlanta’s defense is coming up on what would be a very big milestone. The Falcons have not allowed an individual running back to rush for 100 yards in 14 straight games. The last time it happened was when Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart went over 100 yards on Dec. 12, 2010.

A tip for the Detroit defense: Hey, any defense going up against the Saints can use all the help it can get. If it’s third down, you might want to put some tight coverage on New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham. He’s caught 13 passes on third downs this season. All 13 have been turned into first downs.

Shades of 2009: I’ve said several times that the Saints of this year are starting to remind me of the Saints of 2009, who went on to win the Super Bowl. Here’s the latest example. A victory against the Lions would put the Saints at 6-0 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for only the second time in franchise history. The only other time that happened was 2009.

Remembering Lee Roy Selmon

September, 4, 2011
Lee Roy SelmonMalcolm Emmons/US PresswireLee Roy Selmon was the first Tampa Bay Buccaneer elected to the Hall of Fame.
TAMPA, Fla. -- I remember precisely where I was the moment Lee Roy Selmon was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

I was standing outside a hotel ballroom in Miami in 1995. It was the day before the Super Bowl. A few minutes after the privileged voters inside the room had voted Selmon in, the door swung open. Out walked Tom McEwen, the legendary former sports editor of The Tampa Tribune.

"He’s in," McEwen said.

For the rest of that afternoon, evening, the media brunch and all during the Super Bowl, I kept seeing writers, league officials, former players and even Ferdie "The Fight Doctor" Pacheco coming up to McEwen and offering congratulations.

The response was the same every time.

[+] EnlargeLee Roy Selmon
Malcolm Emmons/US PresswireDefensive end Lee Roy Selmon was the first draft pick of the expansion Buccaneers and the top overall pick in 1976.
"Why are you congratulating me?" McEwen said. "Lee Roy’s the one who got into the Hall of Fame. He’s the one who played the game."

That’s the first story I thought of when I heard Selmon had been hospitalized Friday after suffering a stroke. It kind of sums up the story of the first Buccaneer elected to the Hall of Fame and the first member of the team’s Ring of Honor.

He died Sunday at the age of 56.

A humble, exceedingly gracious man, Selmon never was one of those people who would go around seeking attention or adoration. He simply earned it by his play on the field and the way he carried himself off it -- during and long after his career ended in 1984.

McEwen, a powerful man, might have twisted some arms to get the votes. But Selmon was the one who did the grunt work. He was the one who beat double-teams and chased down quarterbacks every Sunday. He was the one who endured the 0-26 run the Bucs went on as a 1976 expansion team.

He was the one who made the Bucs seem like miracle workers (long before the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars entered the league under a different set of rules in 1995) when they reached the NFC Championship Game in the 1979 season.

Yeah, the 1979 team had some guys like Doug Williams and Jimmie Giles who made some big plays on offense. But John McKay’s first winning team won with defense and Selmon was the center of that.

Selmon still was the center of the team in subsequent years when Williams left and things went bad. He left the game after the 1984 season because of a bad back, but he remained the icon of all icons in Tampa Bay.

The Bucs were bad for the next decade, but fans and the team could always point to Selmon as a point of pride. He stuck around town and stayed active in the community. He eventually joined the staff at the University of South Florida and helped the college start its football program.

Selmon remained an ambassador for the Bucs as the late 1990s arrived and things got better. Even if you weren’t in Tampa Bay for Selmon’s playing days, you knew who he was. There’s a Tampa expressway named after him and I have to drive by one of the restaurants that bears his name to get just about anywhere.

I’ll think of him every time I go by that restaurant and I’ll have one lasting memory of the man. Last November, Selmon was a guest speaker at a luncheon to honor McEwen at Saint Leo University.

At one point, Selmon said he wouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame if it hadn’t been for McEwen. No doubt, McEwen played a role. But, like McEwen said, Lee Roy was the one who got into the Hall of Fame and he was the one to play the game.

He played it with uncommon grace and dignity and he lived his life that same way. That’s why the legend of Lee Roy Selmon is going to keep lingering in Tampa Bay.

Glazers issue statement on Selmon

September, 3, 2011
The Glazer family, which owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, just issued a statement on Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon.

Here’s the statement:

“From the very start, Lee Roy Selmon has been there for his team and community. Now, he and the whole Selmon family should know that our family and the entire Buccaneer organization is thinking of and praying for him.’’

Selmon was hospitalized Friday and remained in critical condition as of Saturday afternoon.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Of all the hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of moments Jimmie Giles could have picked as his favorite with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this one’s definitely not the cleanest. It also may surprise you a bit at first.

“Wrestling in the mud with (teammate) David Lewis,’’ Giles said Wednesday as the Bucs announced he will be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor at a Dec. 4 home game with Carolina.

[+] EnlargeJimmie Giles
Darryl Norenberg/US PresswireJimmie Giles compiled 4,300 receiving yards and 34 touchdowns in nine seasons in Tampa.
The wrestling session happened at the end of the 1979 season, a crucial one for the Buccaneers. Needing a win to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, the Bucs beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 3-0, in a torrential downpour.

The team that began as an expansion franchise in 1976 and started 0-26 would go on to stun everyone and reach the NFC Championship Game. It was a high-water mark for a franchise that soon would fall back to its losing ways. Giles was with the Bucs from 1978 until 1986 and, by that point, the Bucs were mired in something well below mediocrity.

They spent the latter half of the 1980s and the early and middle parts of the 1990s as a national joke. Actually, there were all sorts of jokes in those days.

“The sign on the ticket window was “Sorry, we’re open,’’ cracked long-time Tampa Bay radio personality Jack Harris, who was one of the guest speakers before Giles took the microphone.

But one of the best things the Bucs have done since starting the Ring of Honor two years ago is that they’ve embraced their past. It would be easy to try to forget it all and skip the whole era before coach Tony Dungy came along and changed the climate and the uniforms switched from orange and white to pewter and red.

That also would be a mistake because there were some good times and good players from those early years. Co-chairman Bryan Glazer made it a point to say the team’s present and future wouldn’t be possible without its past. He’s right.

Lee Roy Selmon and John McKay, the first two inductees, created some magical moments for a young franchise. So did Giles, who played tight end and went to four Pro Bowls while with the Bucs.

“It was Jimmie Giles and some others who helped turn this team around,’’ Harris said. “It was a great era.’’

But a short era. Sooner or later, the Bucs will open the floodgates for their Ring of Honor. That will start when Derrick Brooks goes in, which will clear the way for guys like Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Mike Alstott, Ronde Barber, Dungy and Jon Gruden.

It’s not quite time for that yet. Although there was a long dry spell between the 1979 team and the teams of the late 1990s, there are some other guys from those eras who deserve the honor. Guys like Ricky Bell, James Wilder, Paul Gruber and Hardy Nickerson should go in before the Bucs get to their more-recent past.

Then, there’s Doug Williams. He was the quarterback of the 1979 team and, by all rights, he should be going into the Ring of Honor before or with Giles. He’s not. That’s mostly Williams’ fault. He did some great things as a player and left Tampa Bay in a bitter salary dispute with former owner Hugh Culverhouse. Williams carried a grudge before finally returning to work in the team’s personnel department.

Things were good for a few years, but Williams left after the 2010 draft. Williams and general manager Mark Dominik weren’t getting along. Since his departure, Williams has taken some public shots at the Bucs. He’s not going to get into the Ring of Honor as long as that’s going on.

As Giles talked, I think there might have been a subtle message to Williams. Giles was talking about how the Bucs of long ago went through some tough times and weren’t beloved. Giles said that things change with time and that no one should succumb to bitterness.

That’s an excellent point. The Bucs are going out of their way to reach out to their former players. Let the water flow under the bridge.

The Bucs and their former players need to stay above the bridge -- above the pettiness.

Remembering Jimmie Giles

July, 13, 2011
TAMPA, Fla. -- I’m getting ready to head out to One Buccaneer Place for the news conference to formally announce Jimmie Giles into the team’s Ring of Honor.

The Bucs did a first-class job of making the announcement of John McKay last year and Lee Roy Selmon the year before that. I’m sure they’ll do right by Giles, but I’m more curious to see this announcement than I was the first two.

That’s largely because I knew just about everything about Selmon and McKay. Selmon was Tampa Bay’s first draft pick, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a staple in the community and I sometimes eat at his restaurants. McKay was Tampa Bay’s colorful first coach and was famous before that as an outstanding college coach at Southern California. He stayed in Tampa Bay after he was done coaching and sometimes stopped by to watch practice back in the mid-1990s when his son, Rich, was general manager and I was covering the Bucs on a daily basis.

[+] EnlargeJimmie Giles
AP Photo/Sal VederJimmie Giles was on the 1979 Buccaneers team that went to the NFC Championship Game.
But Giles is a little different. I don’t know nearly as much about him. I remember him a little as a player, but I arrived in the Tampa Bay area for college just as Giles was wrapping up his time with the Bucs. Growing up in Pennsylvania, not many Tampa Bay games were televised locally unless the Bucs happened to be playing the Giants, Eagles or Jets.

Giles also spent time with the Oilers, Lions and Eagles, but the best part of his career came with Tampa Bay. He was with the Bucs from 1978 until 1986 and made four Pro Bowls during that time. He was part of the 1979 team that made an unlikely run to the NFC Championship Game.

In 13 NFL seasons, Giles had 350 catches for 5,084 yards and 41 touchdowns. Those aren’t huge numbers for a tight end. But you have to remember Giles was playing in an era when tight ends primarily were used as blockers. Giles did have some big moments as a receiver and none was bigger than Oct. 20, 1985, against the Miami Dolphins. In that game, Giles caught four touchdown passes.

Buccaneers teammate Gerald Carter once was quoted as saying that Giles could have been "one of the best all-time tight ends, if they'd used him more".

But the Bucs used Giles enough that he was one of their best players from an early history that wasn’t always pretty. He did enough to earn a spot in the Ring of Honor and a lasting legacy.

I’ll be back later with more on Giles.
What key event significantly changed the fortunes of the Buccaneers – for better or worse? Give us your take and we’ll give you our definitive moment on May 25.

Coming into the NFL as an expansion team in 1976, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost a ridiculous number of games in very quick fashion. There was a brief flash after coach John McKay rode quarterback Doug Williams and defensive end Lee Roy Selmon all the way to the NFC Championship Game in the 1979 season. A few years later, Williams was gone after a salary dispute and the Bucs were maybe even worse than before.

Following Williams’ departure, they went through more than a decade of being the NFL’s biggest embarrassment. Former owner Hugh Culverhouse led the team through one bumbling step after another.

Things didn’t start to change until the Glazer family bought the team, Tony Dungy was hired as coach and Raymond James Stadium opened. Even then, the Bucs were good, but not quite good enough. That led to Dungy’s demise and the arrival of coach Jon Gruden, who won a Super Bowl in his first season. The Bucs haven’t won big since, but they seem to be a franchise on the rise with coach Raheem Morris and quarterback Josh Freeman.

If you vote Other, give us your suggestion in the comments area below.
With the voting for the 2011 class of Pro Football Hall of Fame members coming up Saturday, we previously have talked about Willie Roaf and Deion Sanders as the NFC South candidates.

Even that’s not entirely true. Roaf spent time with Kansas City at the end of his career. But he spent the bulk of his career with New Orleans, so he’s typically viewed as a Saint. Sanders bounced around quite a bit and might have had a higher profile in stretches with Dallas and San Francisco, but he spent a good chunk of his career in Atlanta, so a lot of people will view him as a Falcon.

[+] EnlargeTim Brown
AP Photo/Chris O'MearaTim Brown finished up his 17-season career in Tampa Bay.
But there’s one other guy who played in the NFC South that we haven’t talked about here who has a real chance to get in. That’s wide receiver Tim Brown. Yes, he really did play in the NFC South and unlike Roaf and Sanders, he actually played in the division after it came into existence. Roaf left New Orleans for Kansas City in 2002, the year the NFC South started, and Sanders’ time in Atlanta was long before divisional realignment.

But Brown played for Tampa Bay in 2004, the last year of his career. He spent the rest of his career with the Raiders and came to Tampa Bay to finish up with former Oakland coach Jon Gruden.

Brown didn’t do much in that season with the Bucs. He appeared in 15 games, started four, made 24 catches for 200 yards and a touchdown. If he goes in, you won’t view him as Tampa Bay’s second Hall of Famer after Lee Roy Selmon. It’s kind of the same thing as Steve Young, who spent a couple years with the Bucs early in his career, not being considered a true Tampa Bay guy.

The next real Hall of Famer from the Bucs will be either Derrick Brooks or Warren Sapp. But Brown could at least give the Bucs a sliver of representation in the Hall of Fame.

Live from Raymond James Stadium

December, 5, 2010
TAMPA, Fla. -- I’m in Raymond James Stadium, where it’s not quite a sea of orange just yet. But that’s mainly because stadium gates have yet to open for the game in which the Bucs will wear their throwback uniforms against Atlanta.

I did see quite a few fans out in the parking lot wearing the orange. Lots of jerseys for Lee Roy Selmon, Mike Alstott and Doug Williams. But the most unique one I’ve seen so far was a Dave Moore (No. 83) jersey here in the press box.

It was worn by friend T.J. Rives, who is part of the Tampa Bay radio crew. There’s a little history to that jersey. It’s an official one that Moore wore back in the day when he was a tight end and long-snapper for the Bucs.

Moore gave the jersey to Rives last year when the Bucs were wearing throwback uniforms for the first time. Rives wore it that day and the Bucs went out and beat Green Bay, so he’s making it a tradition.

I’ll be back with the inactives in a bit.

Best Buccaneers Team Ever: 2002

June, 28, 2010
Notable players: LB Derrick Brooks, DT Warren Sapp, S John Lynch, CB Ronde Barber, QB Brad Johnson, WR Keyshawn Johnson, FB Mike Alstott.

[+] EnlargeJon Gruden
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesThe Bucs sent two first-round picks and two second-round picks, plus $8 million, to the Raiders for Jon Gruden.
Analysis: In the first year of the NFC South’s existence, the Glazer family, which owns the Buccaneers, pulled one of the boldest moves in sports history. The Glazers fired coach Tony Dungy, who was beloved by players and fans and the only coach in franchise history to have any extended success.

They thought they had Bill Parcells lined up as the replacement, but Parcells backed out of the deal. That led to desperate measures as the Glazers overstepped general manager Rich McKay, who wanted to hire Marvin Lewis, and worked out a rare trade for a coach. They shipped four draft picks and $8 million in cash to Oakland for Jon Gruden.

Gruden came in and did what Dungy couldn’t -- he won a Super Bowl. Still relying heavily on a defense built by Dungy and coordinator Monte Kiffin, Gruden was able to infuse a little bit of offense into the Buccaneers.

With Brad Johnson at quarterback and Brooks, Lynch, Sapp and Barber all in their prime on defense, the Bucs were pretty much dominant as they went 12-4 and became the first NFC South champions.

In the irony of all ironies, Gruden wound up facing the Raiders, then coached by Bill Callahan, in the Super Bowl. Although the Raiders had the league’s No. 1 offense, Gruden outdid his former team and the Buccaneers won 48-21.

Most impressive win: A 26-14 victory in Week 3 in which the Bucs intercepted St. Louis quarterback Kurt Warner four times.

Research room: Tampa Bay’s defense held opposing quarterbacks to a 48.4 passer rating for the season.

Honorable mention

1997: This was not the best Tampa Bay team ever, but it might have been the most important in franchise history. In Dungy’s second season, the Bucs went 10-6 and made the playoffs for the first time since 1982. That raised expectations and changed the entire football climate in Tampa Bay.

1979: The Bucs were formed in 1976 under some harsh expansion rules and lost their first 26 games. But with Doug Williams and Lee Roy Selmon leading the way, John McKay took this team to the NFC Championship Game in only its fourth season.

1999: This might have been the Tampa Bay defense at its absolute best. With rookie quarterback Shaun King, the Bucs still managed to go 11-5. The Bucs lost the NFC Championship Game, 11-6, to St. Louis in a game that involved a controversial non-catch by receiver Bert Emanuel.

Buccaneers embrace McKay legacy

June, 16, 2010
TAMPA, Fla. -- As ceremonial press conferences go, what I just saw was as good as it gets.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially announced former coach John McKay will be the next inductee into the team’s Ring of Honor. For a franchise that has a history of not always doing things the right way, this one was spectacularly graceful.

[+] EnlargeJohn McKay
George Rose/Getty ImagesJohn McKay coached the Bucs from 1976 to 1984.
Some of that might have been because of the subject matter and the people involved. Start with Lee Roy Selmon, the first member of the Ring of Honor.

“I really believe [McKay] should have been in last year,’’ Selmon said.

Buccaneer history might not always be pretty, but Selmon is Mr. Buccaneer and he and McKay, who passed away in 2001, are the only two people who could have brought together the collection of folks who showed up at One Buccaneer Place on Wednesday.

At the end of his coaching tenure, Tampa Bay fans were screaming, “Throw McKay in Tampa Bay’’, but it became obvious Wednesday the man built a pretty impressive bridge across areas where there were some choppy waters.

That brings us to the next speaker. It was Rich McKay, the coach’s son. Rich was the general manager of the Buccaneers in the 1990s and, along with coach Tony Dungy, turned the franchise from hapless to respectable and helped bring a new stadium.

A few years later, Rich McKay lost a power struggle with coach Jon Gruden. He ended up going to the Atlanta Falcons where he’s now the team president.

Prior to Wednesday, Rich McKay never had been in the new One Buccaneer Place. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a palace under any circumstances and light years from the team’s initial facility. With current general manager Mark Dominik standing against a wall, co-chairman Bryan Glazer introduced Rich McKay as “our friend."

Yes, the president of the Atlanta Falcons is a friend of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rich McKay walked onto stage carrying a fedora Tampa Bay hat like his dad used to wear, and talked all about the early years of the Buccaneers. There was no hint at bitterness about his own departure, just glowing terms about his father, who Rich repeatedly referred to as “the coach."

Rich McKay, who came into Tampa’s Jesuit High School as a senior and grabbed the starting quarterback job away from would-have-been legend Jeff Bender, talked about the Bucs winning their first game on Dec. 11, 1977, and how a crowd showed up at the airport. He talked extensively about the 1979 season in which the Buccaneers went to the NFC Championship Game.

With former John McKay assistant Wayne Fontes, McKay’s daughter Terri and legendary Tampa restaurant owner and family friend Malio Iavarone sitting in the front row, Rich McKay said that season might have been the most gratifying of any for his father, who built a dynasty at the University of Southern California.

“I can assure you he was as proud or prouder of the ’79 team than any national championship team,’’ Rich McKay said.

The Bucs officially will induct John McKay into the Ring of Honor Dec. 5. They’ll wear their 1976 throwback uniforms for that game. It will be against the Atlanta Falcons. A perfect fit for the McKay family and the McKay legacy.
The Buccaneers just made the official announcement that Doug Williams has left his role as pro personnel director.

The announcement was treated gently because Williams was one of the best and most popular players in franchise history. He played quarterback for Tampa Bay from 1978 through 1982 and rejoined the team’s front office in 2004.

“[General manager Mark Dominik] and I have sat down and talked about my future," Williams said. "After a lot of thought, I felt that it was the right time for me to look at new options. I wish nothing but the best for the Buccaneers."

"I have tremendous respect for Doug's talents and am very appreciative of his many contributions to this franchise over the years," Dominik said. "At the end of last season, Doug and I began a conversation regarding his career. Doug concluded that now is the time for him to make the smoothest transition. Like Mike Alstott and Lee Roy Selmon, Doug will stay involved as a representative of the team in the community."

At very least, this move proves there was some friction in the front office. Williams had interviewed for some coaching jobs in the offseason. There was a report that he had signed a contract extension with the Bucs, but a team source said that never happened. The source said Williams and Dominik hadn’t seen eye-to-eye on personnel matters for a long time.

The source also said Williams’ departure is only a piece of a bigger overhaul in Tampa Bay’s scouting department.
TAMPA, Fla. -– Just got another nugget from ESPN’s Stats & Information on Gerald McCoy. He becomes the fifth player in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history to be selected in the first three picks.

Lee Roy Selmon (1976), Ricky Bell (’77), Bo Jackson (’86) and Vinny Testaverde (’87) were the first four. Safe to say Tampa Bay fans should hope McCoy has a career like Selmon, another Oklahoma product, did. Or at least a career similar to Bell, who got off to a strong start before having health problems.

Jackson refused to sign with the Bucs and Testaverde could not straighten out a franchise that was in disarray throughout his tenure.


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