Ringing In 2023 With “A Bad Piece Of Meat”

March 22nd, 2023

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It was just about this time a year ago when Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer announced Bruce Arians as the 14th member of the franchise’s Ring of Honor.

All eyes are now on No. 15. There’s no shortage of worthy nominees.

James Wilder has big-name supporters.

Recognition for James Wilder is long overdue and he should be given serious consideration by the family that signs the checks at One Buc Place. From 1982-87, a 6-season span encompassing three head coaches, Wilder led the Bucs in rushing yards every year.

John McKay (three years), Leeman Bennett (two pitiful years) and Ray Perkins (inaugural year as Buc coach) each trusted Wilder as a runner and receiver. Most often, he delivered.

The highlight came in 1984, McKay’s final season on the sidelines, as Wilder led the league with 407 carries. He made the Pro Bowl after generating 2,229 yards from scrimmage, just 15 yards behind NFL leader Eric Dickerson and 177 yards ahead of Walter Payton.

And while no sane observer is suggesting Wilder should join Dickerson and Payton in Canton, he carried Tampa Bay’s offense for much of the decade.

More than 30 years after his retirement, Wilder still remains the franchise’s career leader in carries and rushing yards. He’s still third in career receptions, behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and No. 3 in touchdowns behind Evans and Mike Alstott.

“James Wilder is a superstar in this league,” KC head coach John Mackovic said in 1986. “He’s an excellent runner and receiver and he’s durable. He runs over people and around them. He’s everything you want in a running back. You talk about delivering the mail … he is the mail. He’s the Pony Express.”

Besides, can we please have someone representing the 1980s on a facade around here? Yes, it was a lousy decade for the Bucs, but let’s acknowledge one particular standout.

Lee Roy Selmon had retired by 1985. Jimmie Giles was traded in ’86. Paul Gruber’s NFL career began in 1988. Doug Williams sat out the 1983 season before joining the USFL. McKay’s final year on the Buc sidelines was 1984.

Wilder somehow survived the decade, even though he was overworked and his teammates were undermanned. His peers knew how special he was.

“We used to play a guy in Tampa Bay and Tampa Bay wasn’t any good at the time, so nobody even knows about this guy,” recalled Bill Parcells. “But our players had a lot of respect for a player named James Wilder. He was a bad piece of meat.”

Lawrence Taylor, perhaps the premier defensive player in NFL history, shudders when he thinks about Tampa Bay’s No. 32.

“Best I played against,” Taylor says. “After four quarters of hitting that boy, Oh God, Ben Gay everywhere. You hit James Wilder and everything hurts.”

A Worthy Trio

There are other compelling candidates for the Ring of Honor.

Warrick Dunn combined with Alstott to give the Bucs a dynamic backfield in the second half of the 1990s. Dunn was an exceptional target out of the backfield and he split his 12-year career evenly between Tampa Bay and Atlanta. Let’s not forget Dunn’s incredible work in the community, which should factor into his candidacy as a Buccaneer icon.

Retired defensive end Simeon Rice.

Signing Simeon Rice as a free agent in 2001 added another stellar piece to a stellar defense. Coming off the right edge, Rice proved to be a blind-side menace. Buc fans grew to admire Rice’s knack for the strip-sack and he was very disruptive in the postseason. He had 69 1/2 sacks in six Tampa Bay regular seasons.

His relentless pursuit of league MVP Rich Gannon in the Super Bowl could easily have earned Rice MVP honors on the league’s biggest stage.

Here’s one more name to consider.

He’s never suited up as a Buccaneer, but Gene Deckerhoff is synonymous with this franchise. Retired as the voice of the Seminoles, Deckerhoff has served as Tampa Bay’s play-by-play announcer since 1989.

Gene Deckerhoff

He’ll be back in the broadcast booth this fall to chronicle the post-Brady era and Buc fans are thrilled with Deckerhoff’s folksy approach and genuine love for the job.

Who can forget Deckerhoff’s classic calls through the years?

“Alstott up the gut.”

“The dagger is in.”

“Touchdown, Tampa Bay.”

His next call could come from the Glazers, welcoming him to the Ring of Honor.

37 Responses to “Ringing In 2023 With “A Bad Piece Of Meat””

  1. Beej Says:

    Brad Culpepper. Loved that guy

  2. darengibo Says:

    Simeon should definitely be in the ROH… not to mention HOF!
    would love an addition from the 80’s and none more deserving than James Wilder!

    As for Dunn and Alstott, I love both, but got to give edge to A-Train since Dunn spent half his career with diry birds.

  3. darengibo Says:

    Ricky Bell and Hardy Nickerson need to be in the ROH. Nickerson was crucial in changing the culture in the organization when he was signed.

    Simeon should be in the ROH and ultimately the HOF!

    Dunn and Alstott? I love both but give edge to A-Train since Dunn spent half career with Dirty Birds.

  4. Ed Kerber Says:

    Add 3!!
    Deckerhoff , Wilder, Brady

  5. Obvious Says:

    Like Ira said, a worthy Trio.. Can’t miss no matter the pick. (With in this group that is)

  6. Bucs Guy Says:

    Wilder and Dunn this year.
    Rice and Deckerhoff next year.

  7. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Beej Says:
    March 22nd, 2023 at 9:04 am
    Brad Culpepper. Loved that guy

    Too bad him and his d!ckhead partner Curland continue to make totally stupid and self serving commercials.
    God I hate those things.

  8. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    LOL, Culpepper Kurland and Wilder!
    I like Gene Deckerhoff and miss his voice

  9. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Dunn should NOT be in the RoH. He left to be with a division rival. He’s a traitor.

    Put Tom Brady in.

  10. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Deckerhoff should be in there too.

  11. Buc4evr Says:

    I nominate John Gruden…. 😠

  12. Cobraboy Says:

    We’re gonna need a bigger stadium for all those names.

    Wiolder, Dunn, Deckerhoff, Rice, all worthy.

    I’d also put the guy who turned around the lost 80’s rep even if not the 80’s: Hardy Nickerson.

  13. Stanglassman Says:

    Wilder is overdue for the ROH. Let’s go Glazers make it happen.

  14. Ugotrobbed Says:

    Agreed! All 3 of those players/play by play guy should be in there!

  15. BuccoBruce Says:

    What about Mark Carrier, the guy was a staple at WR in Tampa. Caught pretty much everything before leaving to Cleveland in 93.

  16. Dooley Says:

    El Dragon is dangerous and often angry, act casual.

  17. Oddball Says:

    Bad piece of meat…
    My new favorite Parcells quote

  18. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    100% James Wilder. Good call. One of my all time favorites.

  19. AtlBuc Says:

    Dunn was great but he is now a part owner of the Falcons so, forget about it!

  20. Diverdo Says:

    Gene Deckerhoff should be next in Ring.

    He made a bad team fun to listen when he covered them.

  21. Goatfarmer Says:

    When in doubt just listen to Ira.

    Wilder now before it’s too late. While he’s still with us.

  22. Brandon Says:

    Nope. Wilder all the way. 407 carries in 84, 85 catches. That’s 492 total touches, an NFL record that will forever stand. Surely there were at least eight other touches that were called back due to penalty. That’s over 500 touches on a season and the dude didn’t miss a game. Legend!

  23. dbbuc711 Says:

    Wilder 100%

  24. Tampa2ATL Says:

    Wilder & Gene

  25. Denny Gay Says:

    I was at that James Wilder Jets game where he set the record. Caught a hand pad from James Wilder himself. Great day, within the Buccaneers of the ’80s.

  26. Buc1987 Says:

    Wilder AND Gene would be great!

  27. OrlandoBucFan Says:

    I remember watching Wilder’s 1983 game against Minnesota on a little black and white T.V. I had in my bedroom (I saw Dwight Clark make “The Catch” on that same T.V.). Wilder was the offense back in the mid-80’s. He is still one of my favorite Bucs. He and Alstott had a similar physical style. It is time to add Wilder to the Ring of Honor.

  28. TDTB2022 Says:

    What about #93?

  29. BucsfanFred Says:

    I’d say it’s a toss-up between Wilder and Nickerson.
    I remember Gene Deckerhoff well. Almost half our games were radio only because we never sold out, except for the Bears games.
    Other names I wouldn’t mind:. Brad Culpepper, David Logan, Simon Rice, Kevin House, and Hugh Green.

    Reinstate Jon Gruden.

  30. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Love me some A-train and coke on for rice. Dude was a beast n boy if you didn’t account for him he took that ball from ya. I mostly miss JOHN lynch n brooks. Love that whole defense.

  31. David Says:

    Loved watching Wilder tote the rock him and Barry Sanders use to go at it twice a year another good running back from back in the day is Eric Rhett even though he was a gator gave the Bucs some decent years

  32. David Says:

    Bucco Bruce good call on Carrier and he made a Pro bowl

  33. JN Says:

    James Wilder ALL DAY LONG. Can you imagine if he played on a decent team? Right up there with Gruber, Evans and TB12 as this franchise’s best offensive player ever.

  34. Buccos Says:

    What about Ricky Bell?!? He was my favorite. And Doug Williams

  35. Stanglassman Says:

    Next should be Wilder.

    Hardy N. Does deserve it too. Gene’s not gonna be around too much longer so I might prioritize him. Though NFL players in general often die way too young.

  36. WhosOurQB Says:

    Wilder and Rice should definitely be pending asap

  37. WhosOurQB Says:

    @Stanglass … yep, Nickerson and Deckerhoff as well. These 4 should come before Brady