THE ALL-TIME BUCCANEER TEAMAfter 42 seasons, enough time has passed to produce an all-time Buccaneer team. Not just starters but a full 53-man roster of the best players to have worn the Tampa Bay colours in the NFL. The main criteria for selection is performance for the Buccaneers only. So the likes of Steve Young, Tim Brown and Darrelle Revis were not considered for inclusion as their Tampa Bay actions were only the tip of the iceberg for their overall careers.The 53-main roster includes special teamers, specialists and the need for rotational and back-up players. Some selections were obvious, others perhaps a little controversial but that is what off-season articles are for. And you have to take into consideration the eras that each player appeared in. Comparing a receiver or a QB rating from the modern game to that of the 1980s is not realistic.We will start with the wide receivers and there are six on the roster. The starters are two of the best from yesteryear, the all-time franchise leader in receiving yardage, Mark Carrier and the 1980s deep threat Kevin House. Mike Evans would be the first off the bench on account of his four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons followed by the superb team player Vincent Jackson. And for more speed and his own three 1,000-yard seasons in a row, Joey Galloway has to make the team as well.Then it gets interesting for the final spot. Antonio Bryant was awesome in 2008 and Gerald Carter was a great possession receiver for most of the 1980s. Keyshawn Johnson was a huge part of the Super Bowl teams and was fearless across the middle during his four seasons albeit incredibly vocal about it too. And of course the fan favourite Joe Jurevicius who being honest, did not do a great deal outside of the 2002 post-season.So the final spot goes to another member of the Super Bowl team, Keenan McCardell. Another great route-runner to go along with all the speed off the bench on this team and six targets that any Buccaneer quarterback would have been happy to throw to.Now we move on to the linebackers, a position that has always been one of strength in Buccaneers annals. The first two selections were slam dunk certainties, Derrick Brooks and Hardy Nickerson. Brooks of course is in the Hall of Fame, the Ring of Honor and the top three of all-time Buccaneer players. Nickerson remains the best free agent signing in team history given his performance and what he brought to the team with his attitude and work ethic.Lavonte David’s play during his six seasons in Tampa has been superb and perhaps more deserving of NFL recognition than he has received. But he is a definite selection for our team along with one of the stalwarts of the early Buccaneer teams, Richard “Batman” Wood. He arrived in the expansion season in a trade with the Jets and proceeded to start every game over the following five seasons. To play in the moden NFL, he might have to lose the famous Batman logos that adorned his elbow pads however.Hugh Green was a top draft pick in 1981 who twice made the Pro Bowl and was one of the best players on the early 1980s Tampa defenses. He fell out of favour in 1985 having been critical of the then-coaching staff, understandable really in hindsight and was traded to Miami for a pair of top draft picks but his career never reached his early stellar heights. Shelton Quarles has to make this team for his play in the middle for the Super Bowl team and he was a cracking special teams player as well winning out over Kwon Alexander to back-up Nickerson on our team.The final spot was a little harder to determine. Scot Brantley was a fan favourite in the 1980s, Broderick Thomas had a ton of tackles in the early 1990s but was a locker room disruption and Barrett Ruud had the most popular crowd chant when he made a play. Cecil Johnson was another key part of the 1970s Tampa defenses and Ervin Randle was one of the hardest hitters ever to wear the orange colours. But the final spot for the magnificent seven linebackers goes to David Lewis, a 2nd round pick in 1977 who started for four seasons and went to the Pro Bowl in 1980. Now we move on to the running backs and I have found space for five of them on the 53-man roster, three pure backs, one hybrid and one proper blocking full-back. The first spot was easy of course in the form of James Wilder. 30 years on from leaving the Bucs, he remains the franchise’s all-time leader in rushing yardage and also the leader in receptions. A true all-round back, he was the first from the position to make a Pro Bowl, the first to post a 200-yard game and truly deserves to be in the Ring of Honor.Backing him up are two very different styles of back, the speedy and elusive Warrick Dunn who would certainly improve the character of any team he was on for his off-field work. The late Ricky Bell has to be included in the team as well as anyone who saw his performances for the 1979 playoff team would attest to. He was a true power runner in an era when those were coveted above all others.The Buccaneers’ all-time touchdown scorer Mike Alstott also is a certainty for this team. Multiple Pro Bowls and highlight reel plays, the A-Train offers something different to the three backs already on the roster. He also was an excellent receiver, probably second only to Wilder in team annals.This leaves no place for Doug Martin (which season version would you get?), Michael Pittman, the Cadillac, Errict Rhett, Reggie Cobb or even Earnest Graham. All very good backs but not able to dislodge the main quartet on our team.Which leaves one place for a pure blocking back. Lorenzo Neal had a great NFL career in the role but only one season in Tampa which means he loses out to Adger Armstrong who did so much for James Wilder during his best years. “Lead Dog” as he was known, beats out other potential candidates such as Johnny Davis.Now we move on to the secondary, a position that was allocated eight spots on our roster, four each for cornerbacks and safeties. As with the three other positions we have already featured, there are some selections that are just blatantly obvious. Ronde Barber has one of the cornerback positions locked up and John Lynch will be the strong safety. And to think that Ronde’s rookie season was such a disaster in 1997 that he was almost cut and Lynch hardly started his first three seasons in Tampa thanks to the genius that was Sam Wyche being in charge.The other starting cornerback position was between Ricky Reynolds and Mike Washington. The nod goes to Reynolds but both are definite selections to the team. Ricky started 103 of his 105 games for the Bucs, six more than Mike although the latter leads in interceptions 28-17. Either way, both were outstanding corners for the Buccaneers and could both play opposite Ronde with aplomb.The fourth and final corner position was a little harder with some good recent candidates in Brent Grimes and Aqib Talib. Both have done a lot in the NFL away from Tampa but not enough here to overcome the choice of Donnie Abraham who started for the Bucs as a rookie in 1996 and had five excellent seasons before being released in a salary cap move after the 2001 season. This also left no space for Brian Kelly or Martin Mayhew.To play alongside John Lynch was one of the best early year Buccaneers, Cedric Brown. A true free safety, he remains second in franchise records for interceptions with 29 including nine in the 1981 playoff season. Behind Lynch and Brown are a pair of Marks. Mark Cotney was Cedric’s partner in the secondary for many seasons under John McKay and totalled nearly 100 starts in the process. “Captain Crunch” as he became known was a real fan favourite in the late 1970s. Mark Robinson arrived in Tampa in a 1988 trade and started for three seasons establishing himself as a team leader from the very outset. A serious injury ended his career in 1991 but he deservedly owns a place on our all-time roster.Now we move on to the offensive line and we went with eight spots for linemen on our roster, five starters and three back-ups who could cover each position. Most NFL teams would normally have nine linemen but we sacrificed one to allow another position to benefit.The left tackle is a no-brainer with Ring of Honor member Paul Gruber taking his place on the blind side. He started every one of his 183 games for the Buccaneers and it was a travesty of Pro Bowl voting that he never made it to Hawaii. A place in our roster will have to suffice.Alongside him will be Sean Farrell, another first round pick. He played five of the worst seasons in franchise history and was very vocal about the organisation leading to his trade out of Tampa in 1987 but his play across his 59 starts at multiple positions was excellent. Tony Mayberry wins the starting center role with 10 seasons of starting on his resume. His final game was the 1999 Pro Bowl and he beats out the likes of John Wade and Jeff Faine for the role on our team.The third first round pick on the line is right guard Davin Joseph. Nearly 100 starts across eight seasons and a 2008 Pro Bowl appearance make his selection an almost certainty. Perhaps not the man next to him at right tackle, Ron Heller. He started all but two games during his four seasons in Tampa and famously got into a fight with the ridiculous Ray Perkins in the locker room in New Orleans in 1987 leading to his trade. He was one of the best and hardest-working players on the roster and it was an insane move to see him leave. Two of the three back-ups are definites. Donald Penn knows where I live so there was no way he could be left out. Losing a starter position to someone like Paul Gruber is no disrespect and there is no-one you would want covering your backside than Donald. He is also one of the funniest players I have ever had the privilege to have known in the years of covering the Buccaneers.Randy Grimes is the only Buccaneer to have played for five head coaches during his 10 years in Tampa and started over 100 games at both center and guard making him an invaluable member of our roster. The final position was difficult as Dave Reavis was a superb left tackle during the early years of the franchise and also a good friend. But he could not beat out Gruber and Grimes and we need a specialist guard for the final spot which therefore goes to Ian Beckles, someone who was a lot better blocker and pass protector than he ever was radio host. There was no place for either Jeff Christy or Randall McDaniel, both Pro Bowlers but who did most of their best work outside of Tampa. And “Turnstile Todd” Steussie just missed selection. Well by about 30 spots that is.Now we move on to the defensive line, a position that is certainly going to promote some debate over who is in and who potentially should have made the team. The four starters in my eyes were pretty obvious but their back-ups were a little harder as I allocated eight spots for this position across the 53-man roster.Lee Roy Selmon of course is the first name on any all-time Buccaneer team. Pro Bowls, the Hall of Fame, the Ring of Honor and his own Expressway. If only there was still a great restaurant with his name on Boy Scout in Tampa … Alongside him will be Warren Sapp who has all of those credits to his name as well including his own road in Apopka.Gerald McCoy has been given a hard time by way too many Tampa Bay fans but has now moved into the Top-10 all-time players for the franchise. No more discussion over him or Suh from the 2010 draft - G-Mac is the heart and soul of the current Buccaneer defense and just imaging him alongside Lee Roy and Warren is pretty special.The fourth starter on our line is the best pure pass-rusher in franchise history, Simeon Rice. A strange individual at times, Planet Simeon is still inhabited by a player for whom double-digit sack seasons were common place and his play in the Super Bowl season was truly outstanding. A truly fearsome foursome for our roster.The two back-up defensive tackles are David Logan and Dave Pear. The latter was the Buccaneers’ first-ever Pro Bowler in 1978 and had three outstanding seasons having arrived in the expansion draft of 1976. His health issues since leaving football have been well documented but having seen him in action from games from that era, his place on this team is secure.The late David Logan was a 12th round pick in 1979 who went on to start over 100 games at nose tackle for the Buccaneers albeit later on some pretty poor teams. He was also a commentary booth partner of Gene Deckerhoff for several seasons. This sadly left no place for Booger McFarland or possibly even Brad Culpepper.The two back-up ends were a little harder to identify with the position having been one of many draft busts over the years (Curry, Reese, McCants and Adams). Chidi Ahanotu and Greg Spires are my two selections with nearly 200 starts between them and both appeared on some pretty good defenses. Spires in particular was one of the unsung heroes of the playoff run that culminated in the Super Bowl success.The final positions we come to are quarterbacks and tight ends. The final episode will deal with the specialists and some off-field selections but there will probably be no area more discussed than the three signal callers on our notional roster.Doug Williams will be the starter. A member of the Ring of Honor, the leader of three playoff teams and the heart and soul of the Tampa offense during his five seasons with the Buccaneers. His departure from the Bay area has had countless volumes written but he remains head and shoulders above other Tampa quarterbacks at this stage.Backing up will be Super Bowl winning QB Brad Johnson. Reliable, dependable and a tremendous locker-room presence who still is involved with the franchise on occasions including when he played touch football for a UK supporters team I arranged at Wembley in 2011. The third and final spot will surprise some people. Perhaps after a dominating year in 2018 Jameis would be the sure thing but not for now. Vinny and Josh Freeman may have been No.1 picks but only showed occasional touches of brilliance with the Buccaneers and the likes of Jeff Garcia and Chris Chandler would not have been good around the locker room. So again for reliability as a solid back-up, Steve DeBerg gets the final nod to our team.The tight ends also have one no-doubt selection as a starter and then some interesting discussions. Jimmie Giles was one of a kind and still holds the franchise record for receiving touchdowns in a game. Multiple Pro Bowls and was a true deep threat at the position before such a thing really existed in the NFL.Dave Moore came from nowhere to be one of the longest-serving Buccaneers of all time and deservedly earns a spot on our roster as a blocker and special teamer as well as for his receiving skills. His final NFL game was the Pro Bowl where he was named as a long snapper to reward his long career.The final spot had considerations for the likes of Ron Hall, Jackie Harris and even current Buc Cameron Brate. But for sheer receiving numbers, Kellen Winslow had outstanding numbers in his three seasons in Tampa and would add an additional weapon to the reams of talent available to our quarterbacks irrespective of off-field issues. Now we come to the specialists and I have allocated five such roles on our roster. Dave Moore could handle the long snapping although I am sure Randy Grimes could step in to fill the role if also needed meaning I did not have to find the likes of an Ed Brady or Sam Anno to take up a roster spot on our 53-man list.Connor Barth narrowly beat out a couple of friends (sorry) in Donald Igwebuike and Michael Husted. Connor’s stats are just better albeit from a slightly different kicking era and his record on 50+ yarders is way better than Matt Bryant in spite of the latter going one-for-one from 62 yard game winners. Bryan Anger takes the punting role over the likes of Mark Royals and Josh Bidwell although Dave Green was also in consideration simply for the amount of punts he had to unleash in the early years of the franchise.The kick returners both deserve to be on the roster so it will be Micheal Spurlock to handle kicks and Karl Williams on punts. This also meant Danny Reece missed out, a tough decision for anyone who saw him fearlessly return punts in the first five years of Buccaneer football, hardly ever calling for a fair catch. I wanted to also include one true special team tackling machine and Jeff Gooch leads the all-time tackle list in that field ahead of the likes of Jim Obradovich and Mark Witte.The coaching staff would be led by Tony Dungy in this respect and I am not revisiting the Dungy v Gruden debate here. Dirk Koetter wins the OC role as Gruden would never be able to handle such a role on our team whilst the defense would be in the hands of Monte Kiffin and Wayne Fontes. Rich Bisaccia wins the special teams role over the likes of Charles Stewart.Some off-field nominations here with Rick Stroud and his near 30-year career reporting on the Buccaneers would be the prime man to handle such a role for our team. The legendary Tom McEwen would handle the columns and witty asides. Gene Deckerhoff of course would do the commentary and with Hardy Nickerson, David Logan and Dave Moore all on our roster, Scot Brantley would be his sidekick in the booth. Another pair of good friends, Dick Crippen and TJ Rives would handle all the sideline reporting, both having had the unenviable task of interviewing me over the years on Buccaneer radio. Cliff Welch and Matt May are two of the best ever in the photography department and Rick Odioso’s long run in the PR department puts him in charge of the media support work.And finally as the team’s designated holder and organiser of social entertainment, I give you former 1983 Buc QB Bob Hewko. No player has done more after the game in terms of stories and contacts than Bob so he well deserves his place on our all-time list.