Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sun, 26 Oct 2008 19:53

The history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

About the NFL team Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, often called “Bucs,” is a Tampa, Florida-based pro American football team. Currently, it plays under the Southern Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). When the team was established in 1976, it joined the NFL as part of AFC West’s expansion teams. The team lost their 26 first games upon entering the league, but enjoyed winning in the late 1970s until early 1980s. After which, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers experienced 14 continuous losing seasons. The team made its comeback from 1996 until 2005 as a regular playoff challenger. The team won the Super Bowl XXXVII at the end of the 2002 season, which also marked the team's first Super Bowl appearance.

From the AFC West in 1976, the team was moved to the NFC Central in 1977, while the other expansion team, Seattle Seahawks exchanged conferences with Tampa Bay, joining the AFC West. This scheme was part of the realignment and expansion plan by the league in 1976. This way, teams can play against each other and compete with other NFL franchises.

Tom McCloskey, owner of a construction company from Philadelphia, was the original owner of the Tampa Bay expansion franchise. After learning that McCloskey suffers from financial troubles, the NFL searched for a replacement through a wealthy tax attorney from Jacksonville, Hugh Culverhouse. The name “Buccaneers” came from a name-the-team contest in honor the Gasparilla Pirate Festival, which is celebrated every year in Tampa. The Tampa Stadium was the team’s first home field and is now renovated and expanded to accommodate up to 72,000 spectators and fans. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1970s

The Bucs defeated Atlanta Falcons with a 17-3 record in the 1976 pre-season game, after spending the the first two seasons winless, with 0-26 as overall record. The team finally gained its first win during the 1977 game against the New Orleans Saints. Again, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won its first home game against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1977 season.

In 1979, the Bucs started rapid improvement of its season’s game. With quality players such as quarterback Doug Williams, Ricky Bell (first running back 1000-yard rushing season), and Lee Roy Selmon (NFL Hall of Famer defense player), the Bucs played the season with five continuous wins and magnificent performance that featured the team in the cover of Sports Illustrated.

The team needed to win only one more game to make it to the playoffs, but was beaten by Minnesota Vikings in a tight 23-22 record followed by a beating from the Chicago Bears after a 14-0 record. The team’s final home game against the Kansas City Chiefs led to a 10-6 record, resulting in the first winning season in franchise history. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers similarly won the Central Division tie breaker game against Chicago Bears. The Bucs had beaten Philadelphia Eagles in a 24-17 score during the divisional round of the playoffs. The team also hosted the NFC Championship Game in Tampa due to the loss of Dallas Cowboys to the Los Angeles Rams in the NCF playoff games. Welcoming the great defense of the Rams, the team lost to them with a 9-0 record.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1980s

The 1981 divisional season gave the Bucs a winning playoff to join the first round of the strike-shortened 1982 season. The Lions has winning streak for its home games all season. But with an 84-yard touchdown from QB Williams to WR Kevin House, the Bucs clinched another win.

The 1982 NFL season experienced a seven week shut down strike, with the Bucs performing poorly at 0-3. When the season resumed, the Bucs earned a new name as “Cardiac Kids” after winning five of their their next six games to gain a record of 5-4 and qualify for the playoff. The first round had Bucs facing the Cowboys in their Dallas home. Though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers initially led the game, it eventually lost to Dallas Cowboys with 30-17 record. This year was the last winning season under the ownership of Culverhouse.

Before the 1982 season, Bucs' Doug Williams joined the United States Football League USFL), which led to 14 continuous losing seasons for the team. Also in 1986, Bo Jackson was drafted but never suited for the Bucs. Instead, he played baseball for the Kansas City Royals before coming back to play football with the Los Angeles Raiders.

After Culverhouse’s death, it was revealed that Buccaneers is about to go bankrupt. Hugh Culverhouse, Jr., the son of the former owner, convinced the Board of Trustees to offer the team for sale. Interested buyers included George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees as well as Peter Angelos, owner of Baltimore Orioles. Malcolm Glazer, however, surprised both bidders by outbidding them at $192 million. The new owner positioned three of his sons to take charge of the team’s financial affairs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1990s

The team’s records improved upon hiring Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Tony Dungy as head coach. They worked hard to persuade Hillsborough Country to vote for the raising of sales taxes for the partial funding of the Raymond James Stadium construction. In 1996, Dungy’s Cover 2 defensive scheme became known as Tampa 2 was a very effective scheme The pick-up game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers help the team land the Sports Illustrator cover.

The Raymond James Stadium finally finished construction in 1998. Despite a new venue, the Bucs lost to close games with other teams with an 8-8 record. The following season, however, brought more luck with a superb performance by QB Shaun King, which made the Bucs score an 11-5 record for the season, winning the team's third NFC Central Division Championship.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the year 2000 onwards

In 2001, after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles with a disappointing 31-9 record, the Buccaneers let go of Dungy as head coach. The team, however, suffered from a prolonged search for a replacement, while Dungy had been hired as head coach for Indianapolis Colts. After a painstaking search and high price paid, Jon Gruden was released to Tampa Bay Buccaneers by the Oakland Raiders on February 2002. The league underwent a sweeping realignment sending the Bucs to the New NFC South Division, with Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Atlanta Falcons. The team won the NFC South title as well gaining the best record ever, 12-4.

In 2003, the deteriorating Gruden-McKay relationship became more eminent as the Bucs also struggled on the field. Because of misconduct; Keyshawn Johnson was deactivated and eventually traded to Joey Galloway of Dallas Cowboys.  McKay was released by the Glazers in December to join the Falcons as President and General Manager. The Falcons beat Bucs with 30-28 record, while Raiders garnered a losing 14-12 disappointing performance. Both Super Bowl team did not manage to reach the playoffs that year. 

The year 2005 have seen the Buccaneers celebrate their 30th season and has shown graces by returning the winning ways. Carnell Williams was drafted in the first round of 2005 that provided a running game comparable to the days of James Wilder in 1980s. They won the NFC South Division finishing 11-5, but lost to Redskin with a 17-10 score during a rematch for the Wild Card round . In 2006, the team suffered from the injuries of its players, resulting in poor performances on the field.

New players were brought into the team, In 2007, the Buccaneers won the NFC South title with a 9-7 finish, and the fourth seed in the NFC. During the Wild Card playoffs, the team lost to the New York Yankees with 24-14 as the final score.