NFL - AFC WEST
2021-2022 TEAM LEADERS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As part of the 1970 AFL-NFL merger there was an agreement to expand to 28 teams. But the NFL also had stadium requirements in place, including a 50,000 minimum capacity, and two of the newly integrated teams, the Buffalo Bills and Boston Patriots, didn’t meet that requirement.
So as the league grappled with that, the city of Tampa, that had been slated for expansion, instead tried to woo both teams. But in the end Buffalo and Boston got their stadium situations figured out (in the cities of Orchard Park, New York and Foxborough, Massachusetts), and Tampa Bay was awarded its expansion franchise in 1974, with games to begin in 1976.
As with previous expansion teams, going in the early days was tough. The Bucs were winless in their first season, 0-14. And then they followed that up by losing the first 12 games of the next season, setting a record for most consecutive losses at 26.
Head coach Jim McKay, master of the one-liner, said, “We can’t win at home and we can’t win on the road. What we need is a neutral site.”
But unlike the Bucs other NFC South former expansion rivals, the fans in Tampa didn’t have to wait long for the turnaround. New Orleans took 21 years to make the playoffs. Atlanta took 13. The Buccaneers were incredibly in the playoffs by year four.
Championships by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
What was it that turned the tide so quickly in Tampa Bay, from the league’s doormat in 1977, to an NFC Championship Game participant in 1979? They found a quarterback in Doug Williams, and they went from having a good defense, to having a great one.
Those early teams never won a championship, although Doug Williams would win a Super Bowl years later with Washington. And after a third playoff appearance in four seasons in 1982, it would be another 15 years before they were in the postseason again.
Super Bowl XXXVII
Built into a winner under head coach Tony Dungy, the championship was finally realized after Bucs ownership traded four draft picks to the Raiders for head coach Jon Gruden. He was a big get for Tampa Bay, and it loomed even bigger when the team made the Super Bowl and faced Gruden’s old team, the Raiders.
The Raiders were four-point favorites, but the Bucs were clearly the better team that Sunday. Rich Gannon was sacked five times, he threw five interceptions, and Tampa Bay built a 34-3 lead on its way to the 48-21 victory. Safety Dexter Jackson was the MVP.
Super Bowl LV
After 12 years away from the playoffs, the Bucs went out and got another big name to boost their team, Tom Brady. The six-time Super Bowl winning quarterback brought a new attitude to the Bucs, and brought them a second Super Bowl victory.
For the first time ever a team played the Super Bowl in its home stadium, and Brady won his seventh Super Bowl ring, as the Bucs harassed Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes all day on route to a 31-9 victory.
Tom Brady was the Super Bowl MVP for a fifth time in his career.
Key Stats by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Along with their two NFC championships, that each led to a Super Bowl championship, the Bucs played in two other NFC Championship Games that they lost – 1979 to the Los Angeles Rams, and 1999 to the St. Louis Rams.
The Buccaneers have won their division six times, including three times since realignment sent them to the NFC South.
Tampa Bay has been in the playoffs a total of 11 times.
The Bucs ended their 26-game losing streak against the Saints, who promptly fired their head coach Hank Stram after the game. The next week the Bucs won again, beating the St. Louis Cardinals, who then fired their head coach Don Coryell.
Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin created a modified version of the Cover 2 called the Tampa 2, and it led the Bucs to having a top-five defense in eight of 10 seasons.
Top Players in Tampa Bay Buccaneers History
From the very beginning the Buccaneers have had a terrific defense, led by Hall of Fame defensive stars.
The very first draft pick in Tampa Bay history was defensive end Lee Roy Selmon, the Outland Trophy winner from Oklahoma. Selmon ended up winning the NFL Defensive Players of the Year award in 1979, the first winning season in Bucs history, and would go on to play in a total of six Pro Bowls.
The three-time First-Team All-Pro was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995.
The Bucs first Super Bowl winning team featured the best defense in football, and two of the best defensive players the NFL has ever seen. Linebacker Derrick Brooks was the NFL Defensive Player that Super Bowl season, and retired as an 11-time Pro Bowler. He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 2014.
Also on that 2002 defense was tackle Warren Sapp, a four-time First-Team All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler. Sapp was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013.
The last of those Super Bowl champions to make it into the Hall of Fame was safety John Lynch, a nine-time Pro Bowler with the Buccaneers and Broncos. Lynch received his enshrinement in Canton in 2021.
Top Coaches in Tampa Bay Buccaneers History
The first Tampa Bay head coach, John McKay, led the team to two division titles and three playoff berths. He’ll never be a Pro Football Hall of Famer, but with four National Championships as the coach of USC he is in the College Football Hall of Fame.
Tony Dungy won a division title in Tampa Bay, made the playoffs four times, and won 56 games in his six seasons with the Bucs. He later won a Super Bowl as the head coach in Indianapolis and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.
Jon Gruden is still the winningest coach in team history, winning 60 in seven seasons, including Super Bowl XXXVII.
The winner of Super Bowl LV was head coach Bruce Arians, who also won two Super Bowls as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Lee Roy Selmon.