Tampa Bay Bucs
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.