Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Call from Canton: 5 Future Hall of Fame Hopefuls
With the selections for the Hall of Fame class of 2011 coming up this Saturday, I thought I'd throw in a little twist by selecting five possible future Hall of Famers from the past and present of the Buccaneers organization.
Fan favorites such as Mike Alstott and Hardy Nickerson do not make the list despite their share of memorable seasons.
Alstott may be one of the best modern fullbacks to ever play the game, with six Pro Bowl appearances and three All-Pro teams, but doesn't play a position that favors him. Hard to say that about my favorite player in Bucs history.
This list consists of five Canton hopefuls who played the majority of their careers in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers uniform (no, Tim Brown isn't on the list) and who, obviously, left a huge mark on the field. Here are the five players with chances of getting a bust in Ohio.
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This is the most obvious one of the bunch. Derrick Brooks is, to me, the greatest player in the history of Tampa, not only for the Bucs but for any team in the area.
He's also been a favorite of the fans for years and was one of the best around, whether on the field or off it.
Brooks is a sure lock in Canton, a first ballot guy. He compiled 11 Pro Bowl appearances and was honored as an All-Pro six times. Over 1,300 tackles and 25 interceptions later, there's no doubt in anyone's mind that he will be inducted.
Brooks also has 24 career forced fumbles and was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2002, the year the Bucs won their lone Super Bowl title. That was also the year he tied former Eagle Eric Allen for most defensive touchdowns in a season.
Compile everything and it's clear that Brooks is a sure-fire Hall of Famer.
The Bucs struck gold in the 1995 draft when they took Warren Sapp 12th overall and then later in the first round selected Derrick Brooks. Sapp quickly became the most talented, energetic and loud defensive tackle in the league.
Sapp, like Brooks, won a Defensive Player of the Year award, his coming in 1999. Sapp was the most dominating player at his position in his era. Seven Pro Bowls, four All-Pro teams and almost 100 career sacks clearly show that. Sapp played 13 seasons in all, nine coming with Tampa Bay.
Sapp compiled 16.5 sacks in 2000, an eye-popping stat for a defensive tackle. His career total of 96.5 sacks ranks second among all defensive tackles (according to multiple sites).
Like it or not, his "flash" and personality may help his cause when it comes to getting a call from Canton. Being on both the 1990s and 2000s All-Decade teams doesn't hurt him either. Warren Sapp should be an easy choice for the Hall of Fame.
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John Lynch was a man that could throw 95 miles per hour in baseball and play at 110 in football. He played with great intensity and passion, something the great Bucs defenses were made out of.
You would think being in the Pro Bowl nine times and being considered one of the fiercest hitters in all the game would get you great consideration for the Hall of Fame. But that might not be the case.
Only nine safeties have ever made the Hall, and it looks as if they'll be making room for Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed when they retire.
Along with those two, Brian Dawkins may have overshadowed Lynch just a tad, and that creates options before Lynch for the Hall.
Lynch made a pair of All-Pro teams and played 15 seasons in the NFL.
The fact is, the NFL should have more safeties in the Hall of Fame, but the reality is, they don't. So while I think Lynch is a Hall of Famer, the NFL may not feel the same way.
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If you haven't already noticed the trend, all of these players are from the defensive side of the ball. Another key player to those suffocating defenses of Tampa Bay is Ronde Barber. Barber is the last member of the 2002 Super Bowl squad and survived the veteran "purge" of 2008.
Barber is the only player to ever record 40 interceptions and 25 sacks in his career. He has been to the Pro Bowl five times and has made the All-Pro team three times. He is also a member of the 2000s All-Decade team.
Barber has led the league in picks twice and has compiled over 1,000 career tackles. Only Darren Sharper and Rod Woodson have more defensive touchdowns than Barber. That's some pretty good company.
I think most would give him the nod on their ballots, but we'll see if he gets it the first time around. It'll be a while though—after all, he's still playing.
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This is a little out there, but there are no current players that strike me as potential Hall of Famers except for Ronde Barber. It's just too early to tell with most of them. That leaves us with Simeon Rice.
It's hard to believe with all the talent he had that he only made three Pro Bowls. If he hadn't dropped off so far near the end of his career (and also played longer than 12 years), he may have cracked the top 10 in career sacks.
Only problem is, Kevin Greene, Chris Doleman and Richard Dent, just to name a few, are above him in career sacks—and they're not in the Hall.
Rice was always a really good player but never a truly great one. He was second in the league in sacks three times but never led the NFL. He was an All-Pro just once.
As much as he was a big piece of the puzzle in the Bucs' Super Bowl defense, he never was a head above the rest of the league, and players like Michael Strahan and Jason Taylor were always above him during his era.