Truth be told, Ive always known the Glazers have respect for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers past; this new event just proves that point even more.
On the walls of One Buc Place, there are huge framed photos of Bucs players from years gone by… one that always meant a lot to me was seeing #42 churn the grass up at the old sombrero, before it was even called that!
Bell was the Bucs first 1000 yard rusher at a time when that meant something; but it wasn’t instant success for him. Drafted with the first overall pick in 1977, Bucs fans were irked at coach John McKay for not drafting Pittsburgh tailback Tony Dorsett. Bell knew McKay’s i-formation offense, which was considered a college offense back at that time. McKay wanted to implement it in the NFL, to which he did along with the 3-4 defense when everyone was running a 4-3.
By 1979 the Bucs rose to the upper ranks with their WORST to FIRST slogan, a 10-6 season, and hosted an NFC Championship game, finishing 10 points away from a Super Bowl, as just a 4 year old franchise.
Bell struggled the next year which renewed criticism over his pick, and by 1981 was a shadow of his former self. He would be found to have a rare muscular disease, and passed away during the 1984 season, which the Bucs wore #42 on their helmets. (events shown in the Mario Van Peebles TV movie “A triumph of the Heart”.)
14 straight losing seasons, and now 8 of the last ten, its easy to think the Dungy/Sapp/Brooks/Alstott Bucs were the only Bucs who made the playoffs, but back in the day, the Creamsicle Bucs were showing the league how its done with defense, hard nosed running, and a QB who could throw 80 yard bombs.
The 1979 and 1981 Central division championship banners are on display in the Bucs new INDOOR FACILITY opened this year.