Barber Gets The Ring; Who’s Next?

September 19th, 2019

“The Sage” delivers in his thrice-weekly column.

BY IRA KAUFMAN columnist

Presented By

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Who’s got next?

Ronde Barber will be saluted as the 13th member of the Bucs Ring of Honor Sunday during a halftime ceremony that is sure to turn out an array of Tampa Bay icons.

And while Barber justifiably has his eye on an eventual gold jacket in Canton, the next name to adorn the façade at Raymond James Stadium is wide open.

There’s only one more player off that championship 2002 defense who figures to join Barber, John Lynch, Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp as a franchise keeper, but Simeon Rice may have to wait awhile.

The Glazers make the call and they think long and hard about who receives this ultimate team honor. They’ve run out of worthy head coaches and it’s highly doubtful Hugh Culverhouse’s family will ever see his name up in lights next to the late Malcolm Glazer.

So who’s next?

Here are five names to consider from a franchise that began play in 1976, when “Shake Your Booty” ruled the music charts and Steve Spurrier seemed to land on his booty every time he dropped back to pass for the expansion Bucs:


If the Bucs want to continue to salute their Super Bowl championship team, Rice is the obvious pick. He joined Tampa Bay in 2001 after five distinguished years in Arizona and his hulking presence off the right edge was a key component in the title chase.

Rice was a dominant force for five years in Tampa, leading the Bucs in sacks each of those seasons before a 2006 shoulder injury derailed a career that seemed destined for Canton. He could still get there, considering he still stands 20th on the all-time sack list with 122.

And let’s remember that Rice easily could have been selected as Super Bowl MVP if the NFL hadn’t demanded an early vote. Rice dumped Rich Gannon twice and forced a fumble, living up to this reputation as a big-game player. In five postseason games with the Bucs, Rice posted 7 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. Rice’s Ring of Honor day is coming – the only question is when.


When Nickerson signed with the Bucs in 1993 after six years with the Steelers, he was shocked by the losing attitude in Tampa. The Bucs were in the midst of a 14-year playoff drought and Nickerson wasn’t having any of it.

He announced his intentions in his debut season with the Bucs by leading the league with 214 tackles.

But besides earning five Pro Bowl invitations during his seven seasons in Tampa, Nickerson ushered in a winning culture. He bridged the transition from Sam Wyche to Tony Dungy and served as a mentor for a young Derrick Brooks.

Few players in franchise history exhibited mental toughness and focus like Nickerson. In short, the man was a winner.


This versatile back out of Florida State was the 12th pick in the 1997 draft and promptly earned Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, combining with Mike Alstott in a dynamic backfield. He topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark twice in his first 5-year stint with the Bucs before signing with Atlanta.

Dunn returned in 2008, only to be swept out the door at the end of the season in a veteran purge that also claimed Brooks and Ike Hilliard.

When Dunn retired, he stood 14th on the NFL’s all-time list for all-purpose yardage. Add in the amazing charity work that earned him the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award and it’s easy to make a compelling case for Dunn’s name in the rafters.


His final carry for the Bucs came 30 years ago, but Wilder still holds the franchise record for career rushing yards, almost a thousand more than Alstott. He also tops Tampa Bay’s list for most career receptions (430), although Mike Evans will supplant him this year if he stays healthy.

Wilder wasn’t a consistent threat throughout the 1980s, but he was a big-time player at his peak. In the middle of the decade, while playing for some bad Buc teams, Wilder was a durable terror. He carried 407 times for John McKay in 1984 and 365 times for Leeman Bennett in 1985, gaining 2,844 yards on the ground.

Wilder caught 85 passes in ’84 and scored 13 touchdowns. From 1982-85, Wilder led the Bucs in rushing and receiving EACH season. Those Bucs didn’t have much besides Wilder, but on some Sundays in the fall, that was enough.


It didn’t end well for Kiffin in Tampa, but for virtually all of his 13 years as defensive coordinator, his Cover 2 was the envy of the league.

Sure, Kiffin was surrounded by Hall of Fame players, but even after Warren Sapp and John Lynch departed, Tampa Bay’s defense remained stout. That’s because Kiffin wouldn’t stomach a loaf and held his unit to the highest standards.

Kiffin’s undersized defense swarmed to the football and forced turnovers by perfecting a simple scheme that fooled no one and neutralized almost everyone.

That proud defense fell apart in December of 2008 once word leaked out that Kiffin would soon be joining his son Lane at the University of Tennessee. There was bad blood for awhile between Kiffin and Jon Gruden, but time has healed those wounds and Kiffin deserves to be recognized as one of the premier defensive minds of his generation.

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50 Responses to “Barber Gets The Ring; Who’s Next?”

  1. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    HARDY NICKERSON should be next

    …..and then Monte Kiffin

    I’m not sure if the rest of those bucs players did enough……

  2. Cannon Says:

    I’d say Kiffin is the person who should be honored next. My two cents.

  3. D-Rome Says:

    Rice, then Kiffin, then Gerald McCoy.

    Don’t @ me.

  4. AlteredEgo Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    James Wilder !!!!!!!!!!

  5. DooshLaRue Says:

    I’d say Nickerson and Kiffen.

    Softie’s name should be scribbled in the luxury box ladies room.
    In pink of course!

  6. danr Says:

    josh freeman! 😉

  7. Barbosa Says:

    Nickerson or Wilder. Both terrific Bucs on not so terrific teams, especially Wilder.

  8. doctor_berto Says:

    Nickerson, Kiffen then Rice. Hell no to little Gerald ever

  9. miken Says:

    Hardy or Dunn … then lets pause! Does everyone get in?? This franchise hasn’t had enough greats to put someone in every year.
    Kiffin… the guy that quit on us and leadto the whole blow up that we still haven’t recovered from??? Heck No!

  10. rhenry Says:

    Hey Ira, how about Tom McEwen? Wasn’t he instrumental in landing an NFL franchise in Tampa? Sure miss his morning after columns. Two eggs softly scrambled with a hint of aged cheddar, 3 thick slices of bacon, dollop of real grits drizzled in real butter, chilled Ruskin tomato slices and Cuban toast. Washed down with fresh Florida OJ, and a bowl of freshly sliced Plant City strawberries.

  11. '79 Defense Says:

    I’d go with WIlder. He deserves it– especially for having to be on those teams in the 80’s. The other guys can wait. Follow it up with Nickerson.

  12. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    @ miken

    I liked Dunn alot, but he didn’t exactly achieve “Legendary” status like Barber or Alstott in TB.

    Monte Kiffin left because he did all he could do in his 13 years in Tampa…… faulting or blaming the man for wanting to coach with his son.

    Other contributing factors were:

    Gruden was a – Dyck and a Egotistical, power hungry Jerk

    Veteran Purge – He knew all of his good players were leaving/let go

    Monte gave Tampa Bay more than they deserved in 13 years and he did it with 100% class……so you can just shut your pie hole cause you have no idea what you’re talking about.

  13. Pittip Says:

    Monte is 79, and it would be good to honor him while he is still in good health.

  14. miken Says:

    @thebucs anthem… no fault in Monte leaving at all but ridiculous he checked out with 4 games to go IN SEASON. He could have left after the season!

  15. miken Says:

    @Bucsanthem.. go ask #55 about quiting on a team that was 9-3 and would talk to him at one buc. Shut your pie hoel dumas

  16. KnoxvilleBuc Says:

    All of them deserve to be considered for the ROH. Rice for Canton as well. Personal opinion he was better than Strahan or J Taylor at rushing the QB. I think Kiffen deserves to be inducted next. A decade of dominating offensives ranked in the top 10, development of pro bowlers, and HOF players, changed the game with the Tampa 2. I honestly never was worried when our D was on the field. Hate it for kiffen the HOF doesn’t give consideration to coordinators. Lebeau(in as a player), wade phillips is in the same boat.

  17. thomas farkas Says:

    I think Monty and Rice deserve to go in! And I think that while Dunn falls short on the field here in Tampa, mitigating factors like his charity work off the field and his being a very good player in Atlanta should get him a slot!

  18. Ghost of Darrell Henderson Says:

    Simeon Rice is next!

    Kiffin had a good defense because of the five HoF players he had.

    Kiffin quit on this team in the middle of a 9-3 Superbowl run. He got Gruden fired and began the demise of this team.

    Without his 5 HOF players, Kiffin failed miserably at every job he had after that. He only lasted one year at Tennesee until he and his azzhole son blew up that program. Then on to USC and another miserable failure.

    After Rice, they should skip a few years. After Kiffin destroyed this franchise ROH honorees are few and far between.

    It would be like giving a ring of honor to your ex-wife, you know the who ran off with the butcher and left you with 5 young kids. SMFH!!

  19. Rod Munch Says:

    If they put coordinators in the HOF, Kiffin would be at the top of the list.

    Considering his age – I’d put him at the top of the list.

  20. ben Says:

    James Wilder because he carried the entire offense !! it was him are why bother

  21. 813bucboi Says:


    i agree….

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  22. BucAllNight Says:

    Stylez G. White

  23. Red Skeleton Says:

    Like my comment in an earlier similar post. This commercial says it all. Then Wilder!!

  24. Dewey Selmon Says:

    AS much as I love Dunn he is a big NO. Left for greener pastures we won a SB then comes back? no loyalty.

  25. Rob Tanner Says:

    Kiffin or Nickerson. If we have to have one every year.

  26. Bucnjim Says:

    Nickerson who by the way is my favorite Buccaneer should go first then Kiffin. Nickerson single handily changed the culture of an entire team. Not to mention he was part of that ‘99 defense that was one of the best all time. Held the best offense in the ENTIRE league to 11 points! He was great before he was a Buccaneer he was great while he was a Buccaneer and he was even great after he left us.

  27. Bucnjim Says:

    McCoy’s picture should hang next to Hillary Clinton’s. When you convince yourself you are better than you really are and you deserve to win just for showing up you’ll lose every single time.

  28. BucsminsterFuller Says:

    You gotta put Gramatica on that list.
    He was a big part of that team during that era.

  29. Wesley Says:

    Wilder then Nickerson is the correct answer.

  30. Wesley Says:

    Wilder, Nickerson, Kiffin and Rice all deserve it.

  31. Dapostman Says:

    Ricky Bell.

    The Cleveland Browns retired Ernie Davis’s # and he never played a down for them.

    Ricky Bell for what he did and what could have been.

    Since Bell wore #42 maybe 42 years after that magical 1979 season the Bucs will get with the program.

  32. Pickgrin Says:

    All good options – although Dunn spent more years as a Falcon than a Buccaneer.

    I think Hardy Nickerson should be next to join the ROH.

  33. Darin Says:

    Hardy Effing Nickerson

  34. Dave Says:

    Gene Deckerhoff’s name should be in the ring. When you see a Buc’s highlight on TV, whos voice is added in to cover the lifeless TV play by play announcers? Gene!
    He’s been there as an ambassador for the Bucs since 1989 and is in multiple halls of fame. Fire the Cannons and honor Gene while we still have him around!

  35. 74 Bucs Fan Says:

    Richard “Batman” Wood! Those of you old enough to have watched him live know what I’m talking about. If you don’t know, look it up. Dude put bat stickers on his elbow pads and would leap over the OL to sack the QB. Dude was a stud.

    But in all seriousness about the ROH – Hardware should absolutely be next. That was a bad man. Let me put it this way, there would have been zero dancing on the sidelines while losing. I mean f’n zero! Hardware would literally kick your a$$ – and everyone knew it!

  36. Franklin 813 Says:

    Mike Washington..only buc ever to never have been beaten on the deep ball.
    Hardy Nickerson
    Batman Wood
    Mark Cotney

  37. Buc1987 Says:


  38. Jean Lafitte Says:

    I agree with Pittip

  39. BucStew Says:

    I want some more Creamsicle guys. They suffered for this franchise. Nickerson, Wood, Cotney, Wilder

  40. Hank Rearden Says:

    Hardy….he changed the culture in the locker room and mentored 99,55 & 47
    Rice should be in the HOF and the ring
    Kiffin…it was his defense not father Dungy’s (see rankings after Dungy left)
    Danny Peebles

  41. Alvin Scissors Harper Says:

    Simeon Rice is one of the best players ever to don a Bucs uniform.

  42. 1sparkybuc Says:

    No to Dunn ever. Let Atlanta have him. Kiffin next while he’s still alive. Hardy and Rice next.

  43. WestChap Says:


  44. Rob Says:

    Great list, Ira. All good suggestions for who’s next, but would eventually like to see Monte make it in. He defined what the Bucs were all about for many years and acknowledging Kiffin would be a great symbol for how important Defense is in Bucs lore. Feeling a return with Bowles on board. We become terrors on D again, and we start winning a lot of games.

  45. Buczilla Says:

    All of those named are deserving but Hardy Nickerson gets my vote. I think that he set the standard for young Lynch, Sapp, and Brooks to follow. Hell of a player who was underrated during his peak years and one of my favorite Buccaneers of all time.

  46. Bruce Blahak Says:

    I have strong opinions on this since the older players are being forgotten.
    This Brian Glazer statement reads: “The purpose of the Buccaneers Ring of Honor is to recognize the individuals who have made the significant contributions to the history of this franchise.” So…the guys that went through 0-26 and turned things around deserve consideration. Start with Cotney and Steve Wilson. Richard Wood and Mike Washington next. Ricky Bell is deserving too. Wilder and Nickerson for sure.

  47. orlbucfan Says:

    JAMES WILDER. Why? He was a running back as well as a receiver and did both very well. On el suckola-to-the-max teams, and they SUCKED, believe me. I agree with @Dave on (Brother) Gene Deckerhoff. He’s not a player, but you talk about a class act as an announcer who has always had Tampa Bay’s back. Plus, I got to meet him and have his autograph. He also send me a set of Bucs lapel pins which I prize. 🙂

  48. GMC hater Says:

    Kellen Winslow when?

  49. Barack's Crack Pipe Says:

    Rice, Nickerson, and Gene Deckerhoff

  50. lambchop Says:

    Kiffin (mastermind, consistent),
    Nickerson (taught the Bucs and community how to expect to win),
    Dunn (never had to question the running game, community service),
    Rice (elite pass rusher),
    Alstott (left it all on the field, no one like him ever, fan favorite).