Tampa Bay Buccaneers,
professional football team and one of five teams in the Central Division
of the National Football Conference (NFC) of the National Football
League (NFL). Under the league’s realignment plan, which will take
affect in 2002, the Buccaneers will play in the South Division of the
NFC. The Buccaneers play at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, and
wear uniforms of red, silver, and white.
The Buccaneers joined the NFL in 1976 as an expansion team. Former
University of Southern California (USC) head coach John McKay was hired
to pilot the club, but Tampa Bay’s first season was a dismal one. The
club became the first team in NFL history to lose all 14 regular-season
games, suffering five shutouts and fielding the conference’s worst
offense and defense. The Buccaneers’ losing streak grew to a
league-record 26 consecutive games as the club lost the first 12 games
of its second season.
Tampa Bay improved in 1978, winning five games behind running backs
Ricky Bell and Anthony Davis, rookie quarterback Doug Williams, and
brothers Lee Roy and Dewey Selmon, who played defensive end and
linebacker, respectively. A year later, in 1979, the Buccaneers stunned
the league, winning their first five games en route to a first-place tie
with the Chicago Bears in the Central Division. Williams had an
excellent season, and Bell ran for more than 1,250 yards. The Selmon
brothers led a top-rated defense, and McKay was named coach of the year.
In the playoffs Tampa Bay upset the Philadelphia Eagles before falling
to the Los Angeles Rams (now St. Louis Rams) in the NFC Championship
After an injury-plagued 1980 season, Tampa Bay qualified for the
playoffs in 1981 and 1982 behind Williams, who continued to be one of
the best quarterbacks in the NFC. Both years the Buccaneers lost in the
first round of the playoffs. Tampa Bay’s 5-4 win-loss record in the
strike-shortened 1982 season was followed by a long series of losing
seasons through the mid-1990s, as the Buccaneers perennially ranked as
one of the NFL’s worst-performing teams.
In 1996 Tony Dungy, a former defensive coordinator for the Minnesota
Vikings, was hired as the Buccaneers’ head coach. He rebuilt the team
with young, talented players such as running backs Mike Alstott and
Warrick Dunn, quarterback Trent Dilfer, and cornerback Donnie Abraham.
Tampa Bay began the 1997 season with five consecutive wins and finished
the season with a 10-6 win-loss record, advancing to the playoffs for
the first time in 15 years. After defeating the Detroit Lions in the
first round, the Buccaneers lost to the Green Bay Packers, the eventual
NFC champions. After the 1999 season the Buccaneers reached the NFC
Championship game for the first time since 1979, but lost to the Rams.
In the playoffs following both the 2000 and 2001 seasons Tampa Bay lost
in the first round. Team officials then used money and draft picks to
lure coach Jon Gruden away from the Oakland Raiders. The move paid off
as the next year Gruden led the Buccaneers all the way to the Super
Bowl, where they beat the favored Raiders, 48-21.
2003 Super Bowl XXXVII Defeated Oakland Raiders, 48-21
NFL History Guide