Perhaps its not ONCE, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been considered a joke a couple of times; First in 1976-78, Tampa Bay went 0-26 and a whopping 7-37 in their first 3 seasons.
Late night show host Johnny Carson made the Bucs the Butt of jokes around the entire country, until the 1979 went 10-6 and hosted the NFC championship game in Tampa Stadium.
Within a few years however, after a failed contract situation with NFL QB Doug Williams, Tampa Bay began a string of 14 consecutive losing season, 12 of which were straight double digit losing years.
The Bucs spent 16 of their first 20 years of existence as a laughing stock of the NFL. Their records they were known for, pitiful winning percentage on the road vs AFC teams, Winless in over 20 attempts in cold weather games, No playoff game in over 13 years; an entire school class graduated College with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the laughing stock of the sports world.
In 1995 the Bucs were sold to Malcolm Glazer and changes started to happen. Lee Roy Selmon was the Bucs first ever draft pick, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Tony Dungy was hired as Head Coach in 1996 and by the end of the year had the Bucs playing like champions. Even though they did not make the playoffs, they played like they did, and going into 1997 Tampa Bay made a big change and let go of the Orange uniforms for Pewter and Red.
Now, two years in a row, two players have been added to the Hall of Fame, culminating in this years induction of Derrick Brooks, who not only has the statistics to earn his entrance, but is by far one of the best MEN and HUMAN BEINGS on the planet.
Now the Bucs have 3 players in the Hall of Fame, two of them instrumental in the Vince Lombardi Trophy that is sits at One Bucs Place celebrating the Super Bowl Championship Tampa Bay earned in 2002. The Bucs are no longer a losing joke of a franchise, and are in fact sitting better than many of the teams that belong in the NFL.
Some will say “Baltimore Ravens haven’t been around half as long and have 4 HOFers”. Technically, but three of them include Deion Sanders, Shannon Sharpe and Rod Woodson. All three of those players made their careers with other teams, savoring a few moments important as they may be with Baltimore.
Lee Roy Selmon and Derrick Brooks played their whole careers in Tampa Bay, and only Warren Sapp played the last 4 years of his career with another team (Raiders). Fellow Expansion team from ’76 Seattle Seahawks have 8 players, but only three who played majority of their careers there.
Cincinnati Bengals have 2 players, Saints have 3, Patriots have 4. New York Jets have 5, while its safe to say that Tampa Bay may not be done throwing in its share of players; John Lynch has been a semi finalist and reached cut off twice now. Head Coach Tony Dungy reached the same round this year as Lynch. Ronde Barber has a resume that should qualify him, and then there is no telling if Mike Alstott, Simeon Rice, or Hardy Nickerson get mentioned and survive the process.
You might think its loser talk to discuss achieving “average”, but when your dealing with the Buccaneers, .500 lifetime is a major leap forward for this franchise, who would have to go 11-5 for 22 straight seasons to bring the franchise to .501 .