Gruber immortalized in Ring of Honor
In typical low-key style, Paul Gruber was inducted into the Buccaneers Ring of Honor at halftime of Sunday's game. The sturdy left tackle joined Hall of Fame DE Lee Roy Selmon, inaugural coach John McKay and TE Jimmie Giles in the Ring of Honor as Gruber's No. 74 was immortalized on the facing of the upper deck at Raymond James Stadium.

"This is such a special day for me and my family,'' said Gruber, who started 183 games in his 12 seasons with the Bucs. "I'm deeply humbled and I couldn't have done it alone. I'd like to thank Buc Nation. I've always believed Tampa has the best fans in the NFL. It was an honor to play for you.''

Gruber, drafted fourth overall by the Bucs in 1988 out of Wisconsin, began his NFL career by playing 4,850 consecutive snaps, a run that ended in 1993 when a hamstring injury forced him out of the lineup.

Standing in tribute behind Gruber during the ceremony were several former teammates from the 1997 team, including LB Derrick Brooks and RB Mike Alstott. Gruber was a Pro Bowl selection after the 1997 season ( Ed- no he wasn't Ira!), which saw the Bucs reach the playoffs for the first time since 1982.

"Paul Gruber represented what it meant to be a Buccaneer,'' Alstott said. "He came to work every day and did it the right way. When I was a young Buc, Paul took a lot of rookies under his wing and showed us how to be a professional. If there was one guy who deserved to be on our Super Bowl team for all he had done, it was Paul Gruber.''

About the writer
Ira Kaufman has long been both a great writer for The Tampa Tribune and friend to the Bucs UK and BUCPOWER.COM. He writes on all sports for the paper but during the NFL season offers his stories on not just the Buccaneers, but also the NFL in general.