The Best Tampa Bay Buccaneers Not in Canton (Defense)

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The Best Tampa Bay Buccaneers Not in Canton (Defense)
J. Meric/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks started their franchises the old fashioned way of having to earn every success they garnered.

Starting in 1976, in an era where free agency did not exist, they had to build a team through tryouts, the regular NFL draft, and the expansion draft. The expansion draft of 1976 consisted of players the other teams planned on cutting anyway. The biggest names were guys considered washed up, while rest were players most people had never heard of. 

Seattle did a bit better in the expansion draft, but Tampa Bay did get players like Dave Reavis, Mark Cotney, Louis Carter and Dave Pear who would help the team improve over the next few seasons.  

Their first head coach John McKay, a legend at the University of Southern California who is in the College Football Hall of Fame after winning four National Championships, even drafted his own son in that expansion draft.  

J.K. McKay lasted three years with them, and currently the Associate Athletic Director at USC under Pat Haden, the man he caught touchdown passes from at USC in the 1970's. 

John McKay is said to have regretted leaving USC. His son Rich, currently the president of the Atlanta Falcons and a former Buccaneer general manager, said his dad knew within his first week at Tampa that he made a mistake. 

Dick Vermeil called McKay "Dial-a-Quote." One of his most famous quips came a loss that had reporters asking him about the team's play, in particularly their execution. "I'm in favor of it." was his reply.  

Though he may have regretted the move, McKay quickly built a winner out of a team that lost their first 26 games. He had them one game away from the Super Bowl in 1979 with a team built on a tough defense and powerful ground game.Tampa Bay was the first post-merger expansion team to win a division title, win a playoff game, and to host and play in a conference championship game. 

One obstacle McKay had working against him was an owner reluctant to spend money on the team.

Hugh Culverhouse was set to own the Los Angeles Rams, only to see Robert Irsay buy the team at the last minute. He was then offered the Seattle franchise, but declined because he resided in Florida. Culverhouse then was awarded the Tampa franchise after the man initially planning on buying the team backed out. 

While the Buccaneers struggled on the field, Culverhouse was a favorite of the NFL front offices. He helped find a solution in both players' strikes in the 1980's, brought the use of computers into the league, and was heavily involved in NFL finances. 

He became the scorn of Buccaneer fans for more than losses. When he raised ticket prices, fans complained to a marketing director on the team who had opposed the hike. Culverhouse made the marketing director the scapegoat, then fired him. 

After years of jettisoning good players to save money, or unable to sign top draft picks like Bo Jackson, Culverhouse died in 1994 with questions about the actual financial state of the team that showed it very close to bankruptcy. The Bucs were almost sold to Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos for $200 million with the understanding the team would relocate to Maryland.

It was sold to Malcolm Glazer at the last minute for $8 million less. Under the Glazer regime, the team has won a Super Bowl, and had just six losing seasons. He also got rid of the uniforms colors and logo of the team in 1996, replacing them with the colors and logo you see today. 

It has been a fun team for many reasons since entering the league. It boasts one Hall of Famer in defensive end Lee Roy Selmon, but that is expected to change in the coming decade. 

This is a team of the best Buccaneers ever to play each position. While a few may end up in Canton soon, they were included here because they are not there yet.

The rest of the squad is full of excellent players who may never find induction into more than their own team's Ring of Honor.

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