“A Slap Across The Face Mask”

July 6th, 2020

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Scrolling through dozens of TV channels the other day, I quickly realized it’s probably the smart move to stick to “Twilight Zone” reruns.

Instead, NFL Network popped up — and the frustration grew. It was an old program as the station revealed the Top 100 NFL Teams of all time. That made sense, 100 years of pro football and the 100 most dominant seasons generated by any club.

Imagine my surprise when the 2002 Buccaneers weren’t listed until No. 45.

The disrespect toward this franchise shouldn’t be shocking anymore because much of it is deserved, but this slap across the face mask is downright silly.

The notion that there are 44 teams across the decades better than the Super Bowl champion Bucs is ludicrous. There’s not enough offensive production to rank the 2002 Bucs in the Top 10, but No. 45 is
downright insulting.

It’s an insult because this was one of the iconic defenses in NFL history, a defense which peaked during a majestic postseason run.

Buccaneers co-chairman Joel Glazer won’t appreciate this, explains Ira Kaufman.

“What can you say about our defense?” asked Joel Glazer after the NFC Championship Game victory that shut down the Vet and shut up all those obnoxious Eagle fans. “They did what they’ve been doing all year. What a football team we have down in Tampa.”

We all know that Joel Glazer’s football team down in Tampa didn’t handle success very well, going 12-20 in the ensuing two seasons, but that should take nothing away from a 2002 club that outscored opponents by an average margin of 9 points per game.

The only time the Bucs allowed more than 250 passing yards came in a 26-14 victory on Monday Night Football when Kurt Warner’s Rams threw for 269 yards.

In 8 of Tampa Bay’s 19 games, the Bucs registered four or more takeaways.

“Those guys have speed,” Michael Vick said after he was pounded during a 34-10 loss in Tampa. “They have speed that other teams don’t have. When you have a defense with guys that can move around as fast as the guys you have on offense, you’re going to have to fight for everything you get.”

By the end of the 2002 season, even the Buc offense was in gear, led by Pro Bowl quarterback Brad Johnson. Martin Gramatica converted 5-of-6 FG tries from at least 50 yards and the Bucs owned the possession time at 34:58.

That No. 45 ranking has to rankle Buc fans.

What are the 1986 Giants doing at No. 12? Sure, they had Lawrence Taylor, but the Bucs had Derrick Brooks at his peak. Those Giants had no defensive linemen comparable to Warren Sapp or Simeon Rice and no defensive backs close to John Lynch or Ronde Barber.

What are the 1968 Jets doing at No. 22? Yes, they shocked the Colts in Super Bowl III, but they almost lost to Oakland in the AFC title game two weeks earlier as Daryle Lamonica threw for 401 yards, despite steady 20-mph winds at Shea Stadium.

What are the 1990 Giants doing at No. 29? They should have lost to the Bills at Tampa Stadium.


The 2017 Eagles at No. 36? Really?

The 2002 Bucs dared you to throw the football against them. That 48.4 passer rating by opponents is lower than the number posted by the 1985 Bears or the 2000 Ravens.

In the postseason, they made league MVP Rich Gannon look like a chump.

They hounded Jeff Garcia into submission and limited Donovan McNabb to three points in the final 59 minutes.

Jon Gruden demanded nine defensive touchdowns — and nine defensive touchdowns is what he got. And when it was all over and the confetti was falling in San Diego, Simeon Rice spoke for Buc Nation.

“They couldn’t get on a roll because they couldn’t stand the pressure,” he said. “We put the pressure we needed and they weren’t prepared for all that this defense brings.”

Sadly, neither is NFL Network.

Enjoy Mike Alstott’s June interview on the Ira Kaufman Podcast.

Bill Currie Ford
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Ira Kaufman’s column is presented by Bill Currie Ford. Click on Ira to visit BillCurrieFord.com. GM Sean Sullivan will help you personally in every way he can. Superior service and body shops, too. Joe has used both!

19 Responses to ““A Slap Across The Face Mask””

  1. Cobraboy Says:

    It’s a Buccaneer life…

    No respect.

    Instead of Bucco Bruce on the helmets, maybe Rodney Dangerfield with an orange plume hat…

  2. gp Says:

    Don’t forget the iconic, bug-eyed, surprised, look over the shoulder!

  3. bogiedr Says:

    What about that 79 team? LeeRoy, Dewey, Batman,Chambers, Logan, Lewis, Cecil, Batman, Cotney, should I go on? Oh, and Dougie, Ricky Bell,Eckwood, Kevin House, Jimmy Giles????? Pretty dominant that years as well.

  4. Jaymiss Pick6 Again Says:

    Business as usual…gotta reel in more than one SB to get respect.

  5. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    It’s OK for the NFL World to think of that magical ONE SEASON suberbowl run.

    It was once season IRA……ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I mean, what did you expect from a franchise that are perennial losers??????

    Bucs fans should be happy for that one SB and that magical year. I can still remember that day, that feeling,……….that game when Rhonde Barber shut the Vet down…….I felt like that was the SB…….it was ELECTRIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Maybe if the buc weren’t losers every year they’d be ranked higher????

    They’ve pretty much have done nothing since that Super bowl season.

  6. Bucsfanman Says:

    “Bucs” and “respect” are rarely uttered in the same sentence. You HAVE to win to get recognition, even for past performance.
    Just like the band-wagoners, when we start winning, EVERYONE will be back on board claiming, “I’ve been a season ticket holder since 1976!” LOL!

    What’s truly sad, IMO, is that defense had set the table for a solid 5-year run at the show. The offense never did catch up and the cap led us to cutting some of the most iconic Bucs in history, some with tread still on the tire.

  7. ManzielMadness Says:

    Rewatched the old bucs eagles NFC Championship not too long ago… really made me miss how football used to be played… Mike Alstott was a beast that game along with Rondes shut down 2nd half. Everyone contributed, even when our LT Caleb Mosley went down, our OL continued to shut down that great eagles DL. Outside of the Brian Mitchell returns, Eagles could not move the ball. Surprised they asked McNabb to throw it so much that game when Duce Staley had killed us earlier in the season but not complaining. Definitely a fun game to rewatch to pass the time during these crazy times.

  8. Mike Johnson Says:

    I’ve always said the biggest mistake we ever made was after winning the superbowl, we did not bare down and concentrate on what got us there in the 1st place.. Great Defense. Slowly but surely, we lost our defensive calling card instead of replenishing it. We thought we needed a much better offense. And the rest is..history. I don’t think we needed a great offense. Just a steady eddy one. But we failed to resupply our calling cards on Defense. Sometimes, its best to stick with what you know people. We have never recouped those glory days. Here’s to trying to recapture them.

  9. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    @ Mike Johnson

    The 2003 Bucs roster was essentially all the same from 2002. The only impactful player that left was Dexter Jackson.

    The 2003 Bucs suffered from success just like alot of post SB teams…..what they lacked was the FIRE & PASSION & DRIVE they had in 2002 because that was a special year…..especially with Gruden firing them up for the first time….Gruden was the complete opposite of Tony Dungy and the Team finally believed they had a coach the could actually use the offense to help the defense to win games.

    But as the years went on……people started getting sick of Gruden’s arrogance and his ways. Cryptic messages was coming out of that locker room through the players saying they were sick of Gruden.

    So that was the difference ^^^^^^^^

  10. stpetebucsfan Says:


    Agree and by the very end some of the messages from the players were not all that “cryptic”.

  11. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    You are right on , Sage!

  12. DoooshLaRue Says:

    I think a lot of you are missing the point.
    It’s a team and a year ….not overall performance over time.
    I get that we suck most of the time, but 2002 was a magical year and we deserve to at least be in the top 20.

  13. Ship Thief Says:

    I get some if it I guess, but if the Bears and Ravens are THAT much higher it seems kinda f’d up. That Bears team was pretty nuts, and they had Sweetness, so I’ll accept it. But I would say 2002 Bucs should be right next to the Ravens.
    I’m guessing each fan base would be able to put up a good argument to give their team the edge… but those 2 teams were both as good on D as might be possible.

    With the modern NFL rules allowing the passing game to go wild… we might never see a D as good as the 2002 Bucs EVER AGAIN!

  14. Buczilla Says:

    When you have the delusional morons from up North choosing the teams, I expected nothing less than absurd rankings. Most, not all (some of my best friends are from up North and my Mom was born there) are convinced that they are better than any others in the country. Their cities are burning and they blame the builders, not the arsonists is a perfect example of their foolishness.

    Even our own guys in the media choose lesser players over our own guys. Thomas Bassinger ran an entire article detailing how Brian freaking Dawkins was more deserving than Lynch for the HOF. Even Ira (still love ya man) chose stinking DeAndre Hopkins over Mike Evans?!? When you are not dealing with a level playing field, I think you gotta overcompensate, but what the hell do I know?

  15. Bush's Coke Spoon Says:

    Jaymiss Pick6 Again Says:
    “Business as usual…gotta reel in more than one SB to get respect.”

    Got to be a New England team to get respect!

  16. bojim Says:

    Maybe another SB will rearrange the numbers.

  17. Buc1987 Says:

    bogiedr ….79 team never won a SB.

  18. Iamabuc Says:

    That’s about to change…

  19. Yousuckzilla Says:

    But Brian Dawkins was more deserving than John Lynch …