That was the decade that was
A slight modification to the title of the classic British 1960s satirical TV show but a good line all the same when we cast our minds back to the decade that was the 2000s, the Noughties, the .... oh whatever the hell you want to call it, the decade when the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl.

And the key numbers are 79, 4, 1 and 21. But more of that later.

The decade actually began with a closing out of the 90s in terms of the post-season run that culminated in the NFC title game loss to the Rams. The Bucs were lucky as hell to beat Washington in the divisional round and I for one still believe that if Trent Dilfer is quarterbacking that team instead of Shaun King, the Bucs win it all over the Titans.

2000 was Shaun King's team and the Keyshawn "100 catches on hitches" offense that seemed to stagnate at mid-season. It didn't matter who was offensive co-ordinator, Mike Shula, Les Steckel or Clyde Christensen, the brickbats were falling on Tony Dungy's head. And for 2000, read 2001 too as both ended in the cold of Veterans Stadium.

2002 has been written about so often that six words can do the trick now - Jon Gruden, Super Bowl, nuff said.

2003 still had the Bucs on the crest of a wave but when you are top of the mountain and spouting cliches two per sentence, then there is only one way to go. And the Bucs went down faster than Bode Miller in the Winter Olympics.

The Monday Night collapse to the Colts, Keyshawn getting suspended from the team and a 7-9 record that saw enough stink to waft through the remnants of the champagne bubbles still up most Buc fans' noses. Rich McKay fled to Atlanta in December and in came Jon's old buddy from Oakland, Bruce Allen to take over as GM.

2004 was the year of the veteran signings policy as the likes of Charlie Garner, "Turnstile Todd" Steussie and Tim Brown all became Bucs. At one point it seemed like every ex-Raider could find a home in Tampa in the same way as 1992 was Sam Wyche's season to sign every ex-Bengal on the street.

And the media began to turn on the Bucs and Jon Gruden in 2004 too - remember the abortive Darrell Russell signing?

2005 saw everything come up trumps for Jon though, a 4-0 start, the two-point conversion win over Washington and a division title on the back of the Cadillac and the left arm of Chris Simms. It all came to nothing with a one-and-out home loss to the Redskins when former Scottish Claymore Edell Shepherd dropped a scoring pass in the endzone.

2006 and the end of Chris's spleen in the most horrifying injury in recent NFL memory. The Bucs had to turn to the Polish Pop gun on offense and the radio show hosts laid into Gruden at every turn as the 4-12 season mercifully came to an end.

2007 saw another divison title as Jeff "more clubs than Jack Nicklaus" Garcia arrived to give Jon another veteran QB and thanks to one last hurrah by an aging defense, another division title and another one-and-out proved to be less than enough to keep the vocal majority happy.

But Jon came back and had the Bucs at 9-3 going into a Monday Night game in Carolina when Monte Kiffin announced he was leaving One Buc for Rocky Top. The defense fell apart, the Bucs lost all four to miss the post-season and after seven years, Jon's time in Tampa was at an end.

And the decade finished with a 3-12 losing record under rookie Raheem, the long-awaited purge of veteran names (not talent any longer) from the roster, and for us British fans, a trip across the pond for the Bucs to play at historical Wembley Stadium.

And as we hit the end of the decade, the Glazers honoured the past with a memorable throwback weekend in orange that saw the curse of Buccaneer Bruce felled forever with the first win of 2009 in none other than the creamsicle uniforms in front of Lee Roy Selmon and the rest of the 1979 squad.

And the numbers? 79 wins in the regular season in the decade (against 80 losses), four playoff wins and one Super Bowl. And 21 quarterback changes, 17 of which came in the final six seasons.

And whatever you say about the current state of the franchise, the future going into a new decade, the 2000s was the one when the ultimate dream came true on a magical night in San Diego.

Paul Stewart, TBO.com, January 2010