Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bryan Austin / Flickr.com

Playing at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play in the National Football League (NFL) in the National Football Conference South division. Like the Seattle Seahawks, the Buccaneers joined the NFL in 1976 as an expansion team. Playing their first season in the American Football Conference, they switched conferences in the next season and became part of the NFC central division and then the south division in 2002 until the present day.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are owned by the Glazer family who also the famous English Premier League soccer side Manchester United. As a relatively new team they have a number of records, such as being the first ever team to complete a winning season when starting with 10 or more rookies and are also the first ever expansion team to win a division title, win a playoff game and to host and play in a conference championship game, all of which happened in 1970.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made just one Super Bowl appearance and it was a successful one. At Super Bowl XXXVII, the Buccaneers beat the Oakland Raiders by 48-21 in a high scoring and exciting game at the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

Fast Facts

  • Full Name: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Conference: National Football Conference
  • Division: South
  • Location: Tampa, Florida
  • Stadium Name: Raymond James Stadium
  • Year Established: 1974
  • Owner: The Glazer family
  • Head Coach: Dirk Koetter
  • Manager: Jason Licht
  • Nickname: The Bucs
  • Mascot: Captain Fear
  • Team Colours: Red, pewter, orange

History

Former Tampa Bay Defensive Tackle, Warren Sapp

Former Tampa Bay Defensive Tackle, Warren Sapp

(Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com)

The history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers originally begins with construction company owner, Tom McCloskey. The original Tampa Bay expansion franchise was awarded to him but thanks to a financial dispute with the NFL, this was reversed and instead the expansion franchise was awarded to Hugh Culverhouse, a respected tax attorney from Jacksonville. The nickname ‘Buccaneers’ was chosen in reference to the pirate legends of Southwest Florida and it was decided that the team strip would be white, forcing their opponents to wear their dark uniforms in the blistering Florida heat.

The Buccaneers joined the NFL in 1976 originally in the AFC West but immediately after the first season they moved to the NFC Central. Their early seasons were poor and at one point held the title as the least winning NFL team in history. However, the situation rapidly improved during the 1979 season as the team found itself with a nucleus of real talent. This included quarterback Doug William, tight-end Jimmy Giles, running-back Ricky Bell and future NFL hall-of-famer Lee Roy Selmon. The Bucs won everyone for their first five games and eventually won the NFC Central championship, as well as making the playoffs. 1981 saw them win another championship and reach the playoffs but it would be a long wait for their next in 1999.

During the 1980s, the Buccaneers were one of the most profitable in the league thanks to the financial nous of Culverhouse. However, this was largely because he kept a tight rein on the purse strings. As good as this was for the finances of the club, it wasn’t for its trophy room. With one of the lowest payrolls in the league, it severely hampered their ability to sign the top players and challenge for the title and an eventual Super Bowl.

By the time of Culverhouse’s death in 1994, it became apparent that the team wasn’t quite as profitable as everyone first thought and was actually close to bankruptcy. The team was sold and bought by Malcolm Glazer who paid $192m – a record for a sports franchise at the time. Immediately placing his sons in charge, they managed to convince Hillsborough County voters to fund the construction of the Raymond James Stadium and also invested lots of money into the team, once again enabling them to become competitive.

From 1997, the Buccaneers became regulars in the playoffs, appearing in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2007, winning championships in 1999, 2002, 2005 and 2007. Although the last few years have been lean in terms of championship and playoff appearances, the team have recently appointed Dirk Koetter as head coach and fans are hoping that this will see a long awaited return to form.

Super Bowl Appearances

Super Bowl XXXVII (season 2002) Oakland Raiders 21 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made just one appearance at a Super Bowl, Super Bowl XXXVII in the 2002 season. Played on January 26, 2003 at the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, it saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Oakland Raiders 48-21.

Super Bowl XXXVII was the first and last time that a Super Bowl has seen the number-one ranked offensive team (the Raiders) play the number-one ranked defensive team (the Buccaneers) and is better known as the ‘Gruden Bowl’. This was thanks to the fact that that Gruden, coach of the Buccaneers, was also previously the coach of the Raisers. Thanks to his knowledge of his old team, the Buccaneers were able to beat the Raiders by 48 points to 21 despite the Raiders being favourites before the game. Tampa Bay’s safety, Dexter Jackson, was named as the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player and only the second safety ever to win this honour.

The game was watched by an estimated 88 million people on the ABC network and the halftime show was performed by Shania Twain, Sting and No Doubt. Prior to the game, the Dixie Chicks performed the National Anthem.

Stadium

Raymond James Stadium

Raymond James Stadium (NASA / Wikipedia.org)

The Raymond James Stadium is where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play their home games in the NFL and they have done since it was completed in 1998. Constructed at a cost of $245 million it was designed by leading architectural engineers HOK Sport, now known as Populous.

A very distinctive stadium, much of this is down to the 103 foot settled concrete replica of a pirate ship, which fires replica cannons every time Tampa Bay scores or enters the opposing team’s red zone. Known as the Ray Jay, it is not just the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who call it home. It is also the home ground for the USF Bulls, as well as the location of the Outback Bowl.

It has also hosted two Super Bowls – the first being Super Bowl XXXV in 2001 where the Baltimore Ravens beat the New York Giants 34-27, and the second being Super Bowl XLIII in 2009 where the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals by 27 to 23.

Famous Players

Warren Sapp (1995-2003)

In many people’s opinion, the greatest defensive tackle ever to play the game. The stats from his 2000 season show you all you need to know. 16 sacks, 1 FF and 43 tackles make him one of the game's most awesome competitors ever – something that he was quite fond of saying himself (Sapp being one of the NFL’s best trash talkers).

Hardy Nickerson (1993-2009)

One of the most ferocious tacklers ever to play the game, in 1993 he had a staggering 214 tackles, one FF, one INT, and one sack. One of the most popular players ever to pull on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers shirts, he remains a fan favourite to this day.

Derrick Brooks (1995-2008)

Known as the greatest right line-backer of all time by many, Derrick Brooks is a first ballot Hall-of-Famer, as well as a Walter Payton Award winner. Playing his entire career at the Buccaneers, he is perhaps their best ever player and a firm fan favourite.

Did You Know?

  • It once took the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25 years to return a kick-off for a touchdown.
  • Famous Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans include: Hulk Hogan, Tiger Woods, Brittany Snow, and Mary Delgado.
  • It takes more than 30 technicians to operate the huge video boards that tower above both ends of Raymond James Stadium.
  • The Buccaneer’s stadium’s famous pirate ship is 103 feet long and 78 feet tall. It weighs 43 tons and was built with 5.5 tons of concrete, 14 tons of steel and 700 yards of sails. Also used to create the ship was a mile of rigging, 60 gallons of paint and 64,000 linear feet of wood trim.