The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (often shortened as the Bucs) are a professional American football team based in Tampa, Florida. They are currently members of the Southern Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The team, along with the Seattle Seahawks, joined the NFL in 1976 as expansion teams in the AFC West. The club is currently owned by Malcolm Glazer and coached by head coach Jon Gruden. When the franchise entered the league in 1976, the Buccaneers lost their first 26 games. After a brief winning era in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the team suffered through fourteen consecutive losing seasons. From 1996 until 2005 they were consistent playoff contenders, and won Super Bowl XXXVII at the end of the 2002 season which has been their only Super Bowl appearance.
The Tampa Bay expansion franchise was originally awarded to Tom McCloskey, a construction company owner from Philadelphia. It soon became apparent that McCloskey had financial problems, so the NFL found a replacement in Hugh Culverhouse, a wealthy tax attorney from Jacksonville well known in NFL circles for brokering an unprecedented franchise swap between the Baltimore Colts and Los Angeles Rams. A name-the-team contest resulted in the nickname "Buccaneers", in honor of the yearly Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa. The team's first home was Tampa Stadium, which had recently been expanded to seat just over 72,000 fans. Steve Spurrier was the quarterback for Tampa Bay during their expansion season.
Tampa Bay started the first two seasons winless with an overall 0-26 record (though the Bucs had beaten the Atlanta Falcons 17-3 in a 1976 pre-season game before their first regular season) before finally winning its first game in 1977 on the road against the New Orleans Saints. Saints Head Coach Hank Stram was fired after losing to the Buccaneers, but Tampa Bay went out the next week and won their first home game over the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1977 season finale.
With four games left in the season, the Bucs needed to win only one of them to make the playoffs. In the first, STP was put all over the goal posts in Tampa to prevent the goalposts from being ripped down in the event of a celebration. Four blocked kicks later, the Bucs wasted the oily substance, falling to the Minnesota Vikings 23-22. STP was wasted again the following week as the Bucs were shut out 14-0 by the Chicago Bears, and in OJ Simpson's final home game in San Francisco, Tampa lost its third straight attempt to clinch a division title against a 49ers team which came in with a 1-13 record. Clinch they did, however, in their final contest at home against the Kansas City Chiefs, which was played in the worst downpour in Bucs history. Finishing with a 10-6 record, the Bucs had their first winning season in franchise history, and also won the Central Division in a tiebreaker over the Chicago Bears. In an upset, the Bucs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24-17 in the divisional round of the playoffs. Because the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Dallas Cowboys in the other NFC playoff game, the Bucs hosted the NFC Championship Game the following week in Tampa. The Bucs lost to the Rams 9-0, thanks to great defense by the Rams. In their fourth season, the Bucs seemed on the verge of fulfilling McKay's five-year plan.
The Bucs made the playoffs again by winning their division in the 1981 season and entering the first round during the strike-shortened 1982 season. The 1981 season came down to a thrilling final game at Detroit. The winner would take the Central Division crown and the loser would miss the playoffs. The Lions had not lost at home all season. Although the Bucs trailed early, an 84-yard touchdown bomb from QB Williams to WR Kevin House and a fumble recovery for a touchdown by DT David Logan sealed the shocking win for the Bucs. The Dallas Cowboys rewarded the Bucs' efforts with a 38-0 blowout in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The 1982 season started just as poorly for the Bucs, as they went 0-3 before a player's strike shut down the NFL for seven weeks. When the league resumed play, the Bucs were nicknamed the "Cardiac Kids" for winning five of their next six games all in the final moments to go 5-4 and qualify for the expanded playoff slate. In the first round, the Bucs once again faced the Cowboys at home in Dallas, but the Bucs put up a much better fight, leading the game at the half. Tampa Bay lost 30-17.
1982 would be the last winning regular season under Culverhouse's ownership. Prior to the 1983 season, The Bucs lost Doug Williams to the United States Football League (USFL) and immediately bottomed out at 2-14, starting a string of 14 consecutive losing seasons (the first 13 of which they suffered at least 10 losses). Included in their misery was the drafting of Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson with the first pick in the 1986 draft. Jackson never suited up for the Bucs, instead deciding to play baseball for the Kansas City Royals. Jackson would later return for parts of football seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders.
During Dungy's first season in 1996, the team continued to struggle, starting the season 1–8. But in the second half of the season they finished 5–2, primarily due to the performance of a defense ranked seventh in the NFL led by Hardy Nickerson and the maturing of Wyche's draftees Brooks, Lynch, and Sapp. Dungy, a devout Christian with an even-tempered personality, quickly brought balance and morale to the team, and his Cover 2 defensive scheme, sharpened to perfection by defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and linebackers coach Lovie Smith, became the foundation for Tampa Bay's future success. Their version of Cover 2 was so successful that it became known as the Tampa 2. It has been brought to the Chicago Bears by Smith, Detroit Lions by Rod Marinelli, Kansas City Chiefs by Herman Edwards and to the Indianapolis Colts by Dungy himself, and copied by several other teams.
The team started the season 5–0, picking up where they left off the previous year, and this quick start once again landed them on the cover of Sports Illustrated--not once, but twice. The Bucs went 10–6 for their first winning season and playoff appearance since 1982, as a wild-card team. In the Bucs' final home game at Houlihan's Stadium (formerly Tampa Stadium), the team defeated the Detroit Lions 20-10. They lost at Lambeau Field to the eventual NFC Champion Green Bay Packers 21-7. Still, there was reason for optimism, and the expectations were high for the following season.
The 1998 season, the first to be played in the newly constructed Raymond James Stadium, saw the Bucs lose several close games en route to a disappointing 8-8 record. The 1999 season brought much better fortune. On the strength of the NFL's number one overall defense and a surprising performance by rookie QB Shaun King, the Bucs finished the season with an 11-5 record and won their third NFC Central Division Championship. They beat the Washington Redskins 14-13 in the Divisional round, before losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion St. Louis Rams in an unusually low-scoring NFC Championship Game, 11-6. The Bucs' loss was controversial, highlighted by the unusual reversal of a pass from King to WR Bert Emanuel, which ended the Bucs' chances at continuing their last-minute drive for a possible win. In league meetings later that year, NFL later changed the rules regarding what constituted an incomplete pass, which was considered a backhanded admission that the reversal was incorrect.
While talks with the Raiders were secretly under way, the Glazers publicly pursued another respected offensive mind, San Francisco 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci. Just when initial reports indicated that Mariucci had agreed to become both the Bucs' head coach and their general manager, Raiders owner Al Davis agreed to release Jon Gruden to Tampa Bay.
The Glazers' shrewd move eventually paid off in acquiring Gruden, but it cost the team dearly. The team hired Gruden away from the Raiders on February 20, 2002, but the price was four draft picks, including the Bucs' first and second round picks in 2002, their first round pick in 2003, and their second round selection in 2004, along with $8 million in cash; the league as a result prohibited any further trading of draft picks for coaches. Gruden, who was frustrated by the limitation of his coaching authority by Davis, was more than pleased to return to Tampa Bay, as his parents lived nearby, and he had spent part of his childhood in Tampa in the early 1980s when his father had worked as a Bucs running back coach and director of player personnel.
Upon his arrival in Tampa, Gruden immediately went to work, retooling a sluggish offense. The league's sweeping realignment sent the Bucs to the new NFC South Division, along with the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints.
Led by the league's top defense, the 2002 campaign was the Buccaneers' most successful season to date. They won the NFC South title with the team's best ever record, 12-4, and went on to rout Gruden's former team, the Oakland Raiders who had the league's number 1 offense, by a score of 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII.
In December, the Glazers allowed McKay to leave the Bucs before the end of the regular season, and he promptly joined the Falcons as president and general manager. Thus, McKay watched his first game as a Falcons executive sitting next to owner Arthur Blank in a Raymond James Stadium skybox. The Falcons defeated the Bucs 30-28. Despite opening the season with a Monday night win over the Eagles in Philadelphia's new stadium, Lincoln Financial Field, the Bucs finished the season 7–9. Combined with the Raiders' dismal 4–12 performance, neither Super Bowl team reached the playoffs that year.
After starting 5–1, the team entered a midseason slump hampered by a season-ending injury to starting QB Brian Griese. Replacement starter Chris Simms struggled early, but came into his own leading to the team to a last-minute win over the Redskins. The Bucs won the NFC South Division finishing 11–5. The season ended abruptly, however, with a 17–10 loss in the Wild Card round, in a rematch with the Redskins.
The Bucs started off the season 0–3, with QB Chris Simms throwing only 1 touchdown to 7 interceptions. In the third game of the season, a last-minute loss to the Panthers, Simms's spleen was ruptured, and he was placed on injured reserve for the balance of the season. After their bye week, the Bucs elected to start rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, a 6th-round pick from Toledo. After nearly beating the Saints, Gradkowski lead the team to last-minute wins over the Bengals and Eagles. The success was short-lived, however, and the Bucs lost five of the next six games. Tim Rattay replaced Gradkowski as quartback late in the season, and the team finished 4–12. The aged defense, with 5 starters who had played there for a decade or more, was ranked 17th overall, the first time a Tampa defense was not ranked in the top ten since 1996.
After a disappointing 4–12 effort in 2006, the Buccaneers for the first time in several seasons had money to spend in free agency. They brought in quarterback Jeff Garcia, offensive tackle Luke Petitgout, defensive end Kevin Carter, and linebacker Cato June. On April 28, the Buccaneers drafted Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams with the 4th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. After the draft the Buccaneers picked up tight end Jerramy Stevens and defensive tackle Ryan Sims.
In August 2006, the Bucs unveiled their new training facility, which had been under construction for the better part of a year. Conveniently located across the street from Raymond James Stadium on the former site of Tampa Bay Center, a large mall that the Glazers purchased in 2002 and later demolished in 2005, this state-of-the-art complex is now the largest for any team in the NFL. Featuring expansive new offices and meeting rooms, two natural grass practice fields, a theatre designed for both team meetings and press conferences, an expanded weight training room, a giant kitchen, a rehabilitation center with three separate pools and a locker room twice the size of the existing one at One Buc Place, the Glazers told building contractors that "money was no object" in the construction of the facility. To that end, plasma televisions are featured throughout--primarily in the offices of the coaching staff--and head coach Jon Gruden's corner office even features a shower with a view of the practice fields. The building is capped off with a giant five-story glass and steel football as a key design element. A third practice field, featuring artificial turf, will be added in the future.
In the second week of September 2007, statues of important figures from the Bucs 2002 Championship season were moved into the lobby area in an exhibit called "Moment of Victory". The life-size statues included players Mike Alstott, Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks, Brad Johnson, John Lynch, Shelton Quarles, Simeon Rice, Warren Sapp, and head coach Jon Gruden. The statues are modeled after images from the sideline towards the end of Super Bowl XXXVII.
Practices at the currently-unnamed facility will remain closed to the public, although the existing mall parking on the west side of the property is still available for use on game days. The facility is still referred to as One Buc Place, or sometimes by local media as One Buc Palace.
When the team began play in 1976, Culverhouse initially picked team colors of red, green, orange and white. However, the shade of green was too close to that used by the Miami Dolphins. A medium shade of "Florida Orange" was substituted for green. Home uniforms included orange jerseys with white numerals outlined in red--the now-infamous "Creamsicle" uniforms. Road white jerseys originally had orange numerals outlined in red, but these colors were reversed for year two and beyond. The color swap to red numbers with orange trim gave better visibility, especially for television coverage purposes.
Long-time Tampa Tribune cartoonist Lamar Sparkman designed the first team logo. Faced with the difficulty of designing a logo that did not look too much like that of the Oakland Raiders', Sparkman came up with a pirate in a plumed hat and a cutlass in his mouth. The pirate appeared to be winking. He came to be known as "Buccaneer Bruce."
In 1992, the Buccaneers introduced orange pants to be worn with the white jerseys. Prior to the team's season finale in 1995 against the Detroit Lions, lame-duck coach Sam Wyche suggested that the Bucs wear the orange pants with their orange jerseys, but the idea was vetoed by, among others, Pro Bowl linebacker Hardy Nickerson.
For the 1997 season, the Glazers worked with the NFL to develop a more marketable and intimidating look in order to improve the team's image. The Buccaneers changed their team colors to red, pewter, black and orange. "Buccaneer Bruce" was replaced by a red flag displaying a white pirate skull and crossed sabres which is a modified Jolly Roger. The flag was mounted on another sabre. The "Buccaneers" team name was written in a new font, Totally Gothic, and was either red with shadows of pewter or red and white. Orange was used on the uniform to maintain a visual link to the old logo. The football in the new logo is orange, and orange stripes appear on the pants and numerals. Chris Berman nicknamed them "the pirates in pewter pants," a play on the Gilbert and Sullivan opera The Pirates of Penzance. The Buccaneers planned to stage a ceremony in which Bruce was to walk the plank of a pirate ship in Tampa Bay, but he was pardoned at the last minute by Governor Lawton Chiles.
The new uniforms were adopted while Raymond James Stadium was still under construction, and the new colors would be prominent at the new facility.
The new uniforms provided a combination of either red or white jerseys with either pewter or white pants. The red-white combination was used only sparingly, and has not been used since 2002. In 2003, the Buccaneers introduced a practice jersey that featured orange piping. In 2004, a pewter practice jersey was used, with numerals in the Totally Gothic font. Since the change in 1997, the Buccaneers have not worn the old uniform, even during league-sponsored "throwback" weekends.
Like many other NFL teams located in subtropical climates, the Buccaneers traditionally wear their white jerseys at home during the first half of the season — forcing opponents to suffer in the darker colors during the hot summers and autumns in Tampa. Additionally, the visitors' bench of Raymond James Stadium is located on the east side of the stadium, which is in direct sunlight for 1 PM EST games. The west sideline is in the shade. In the 1980s, the Bucs generally wore white at home for the entire season including preseason. Since the new uniforms were adopted, the Bucs wear the red jerseys for the final four home games, and for nearly all night home games. In the preseason, the Bucs wear white at home in most situations.
The Buccaneers' 1997 uniform change prompted a 2003 lawsuit by the Raiders, who claimed that the NFL and the Buccaneers had infringed upon key trademark elements of the Raiders' brand, including the Raiders' pirate logo. In the same suit, the Raiders challenged the Carolina Panthers' color scheme, which included silver and black. The Raiders wanted the courts to bar the Buccaneers and Panthers from wearing their uniforms while playing in California. However, since the lawsuit was filed in a state California court, the lawsuit was tossed out because only federal courts have jurisdiction on intellectual property issues.
|John McKay||1976-1984||45-91-1||1979, 1981||1982|
|Tony Dungy||1996-2001||56-46-0||1999||1997, 2000, 2001|
|Jon Gruden||2002-current||51-51-0||2002, 2005, 2007||2002||XXXVII|
Broadcast legend and former Green Bay Packers' announcer Ray Scott was the play-by-play man for the Bucs' inaguaral season of 1976, and from 1977 to 1988 Mark Champion, who is now the voice of the Detroit Lions, held that position with the Bucs.
Former Buccaneer Hardy Nickerson served as color commentator for one season in 2006, until he signed with the Bears as a linebackers coach on February 23, 2007. Nickerson had replaced Scot Brantley, who was the commentator from 1999 through 2005. Jesse Ventura, the famous professional wrestler, actor, and former governor of Minnesota, was Deckerhoff's partner on the Bucs radio broadcasts for one year, 1990, and former Buc David Logan held that position after Ventura until his death after the 1998 season. Dave Kocerek and Fran Curci were also color commentors for the Buccaneers during their earlier years.
Ronnie Lane previously worked as a sideline reporter.
While regular season and post-season games in the NFL are all broadcast by national television contracts on CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN and NFL Network, the television broadcasts are for the most part handled by the individual teams. Preseason games not picked up for national broadcast are seen on WFLA Channel 8, where they have been televised since 2003. WFTV Channel 9 simulcasts the broadcast in the Orlando area. Chris Myers is the play-by-play announcer with Charles Davis as color commentator. Both Myers and Davis work nationally with FOX Sports. Ron Jaworski previously served as color commentator, until he signed with MNF for 2007.
WTOG-TV Channel 44 was the previous home to Buccaneer preseason games for many years, ending in 2002. Former CBS play-by-play and ESPN golf broadcaster Jim Kelly was the play-by-play announcer for many of those games in the 1980s, and Joe Namath was a commentator. In the early years of the franchise, WTVT-13, then a CBS affiliate, broadcast some Buccaneer preseason games. Sports anchor Andy Hardy handled the play-by-play, and for one game in 1978, his broadcast partner was his friend, Florida State alumni and movie actor Burt Reynolds.