Tampa Bay Bucs

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Downtown Tampa from Raymond James Stadium

Dungy was released by the Buccaneers following a disappointing loss to the Philadelphia Eagles 31 to 9 in the Wildcard Round of 2001 and soon thereafter hired as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, while the Bucs mounted a prolonged and much-maligned search for his replacement. Several potential candidates were offered the job, including University of Florida head coach Steve Spurrier, former New York Giants head coach Bill Parcells, and Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis. Spurrier jumped to the Redskins when he was offered the most lucrative salary package ever offered to an NFL head coach, and Parcells eventually passed on the Bucs' offer--the second time he had done so in the history of the franchise. Bucs general manager Rich McKay threw his support behind Lewis. The Glazer brothers were so displeased with the selection of yet another defensive-minded coach that they overruled McKay and took control of the candidate search themselves.

Tampabay Buccaneers
They made it clear that their top choice was Jon Gruden. The problem was that he was still under contract to the Oakland Raiders.

While talks with the Raiders were secretly under way, the Glazers publicly pursued another respected offensive mind, San Francisco 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci. Just when initial reports indicated that Mariucci had agreed to become both the Bucs' head coach and their general manager, Raiders owner Al Davis agreed to release Jon Gruden to Tampa Bay.

The Glazers' shrewd move eventually paid off in acquiring Gruden, but it cost the team dearly. The team hired Gruden away from the Raiders on February 20, 2002, but the price was four draft picks, including the Bucs' first and second round picks in 2002, their first round pick in 2003, and their second round selection in 2004, along with $8 million in cash; the league as a result prohibited any further trading of draft picks for coaches.

Pirate Ship
Gruden was frustrated by the limitation of his coaching authority by Davis and was more than pleased to return to Tampa Bay. His parents lived in Carrollwood, and he had spent part of his childhood in Tampa in the early 1980s when his father was a running backs coach and later a scout for the Bucs.

Upon his arrival in Tampa, Gruden immediately went to work, retooling a sluggish offense. The league's sweeping realignment sent the Bucs to the new NFC South Division, along with the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints.

Led by the league's top defense, the 2002 campaign was the Buccaneers' most successful season to date. They won the NFC South title with the team's best ever record, 12-4, and went on to rout Gruden's former team, the Oakland Raiders who had the league's number 1 offense, by a score of 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Raymond James Stadium

The Buccaneers joined the NFL as members of the AFC West in 1976. The following year, they were moved to the NFC Central, while the other 1976 expansion team, the Seattle Seahawks, switched conferences with Tampa Bay and joined the AFC West. This realignment was dictated by the league as part of the 1976 expansion plan, so that both teams could play each other twice and every other NFL franchise once during their first two seasons. Instead of a traditional division schedule of playing each division opponent twice, The Buccaneers played every conference team once, plus the Seahawks.

The Tampa Bay expansion franchise was originally awarded to Tom McCloskey, a construction company owner from Philadelphia. McCloskey soon entered a financial dispute with the NFL, so the league found a replacement in Hugh Culverhouse, a wealthy tax attorney from Jacksonville well known in NFL circles for brokering an unprecedented franchise swap between the Baltimore Colts and Los Angeles Rams.

Bucs vs Rams
A name-the-team contest resulted in the nickname "Buccaneers", a reference to the pirate legends of Southwest Florida. The team's first home was Tampa Stadium, which had recently been expanded to seat just over 72,500 fans. Steve Spurrier was the quarterback for Tampa Bay during their expansion season.

Tampa Bay did not win their first game until the 13th week of their second season, starting with a record of 0 to 26 (though the Bucs had beaten the Atlanta Falcons 17 to 3 in a 1976 pre-season game before their first regular season). Their losing streak caused them to become the butt of late-night television comedians' jokes. Their first win came in 1977 on the road against the New Orleans Saints. Saints Head Coach Hank Stram was fired after losing to the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay only needed one more week to get their second win, a home win over the St.

Cheerleaders
Louis Cardinals in the 1977 season finale. The Cardinals also fired their coach, Don Coryell, shortly afterward. The team continued to improve in 1978, although injuries to several key players kept the team from achieving the winning record promised by McKay.

 

 

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Downtown Tampa from Raymond James …
Downtown Tampa from Raymond James…
Tampabay Buccaneers
Tampabay Buccaneers
Pirate Ship
Pirate Ship
Raymond James Stadium
Raymond James Stadium
Bucs vs Rams
Bucs vs Rams
Cheerleaders
Cheerleaders
Looking from the top
Looking from the top
Downtown Tampa from Raymond james …
Downtown Tampa from Raymond james…
Cheerleaders
Cheerleaders
Sister Jenn and Mom
Sister Jenn and Mom
The Champs
The Champs
Awesome crowd
Awesome crowd
Awesome crowd
Awesome crowd
Before the Fans come in
Before the Fans come in
Raymond James Stadium
Raymond James Stadium
Me
Me
Me
Me
Chris and Me with the cheerleaders
Chris and Me with the cheerleaders
Raymond James Stadium
Raymond James Stadium
Buc flag
Buc flag
Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
American Flag
American Flag
Chris
Chris
Me
Me
Me
Me
Me
Me
Dad
Dad
Dad
Dad
Cheerleaders
Cheerleaders
Cheerleaders
Cheerleaders
Cheerleaders
Cheerleaders
Cheerleaders
Cheerleaders
Dad and Me
Dad and Me
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photo by: ejames01