Who’s Next? Potential Candidates for the Ring

On Thursday, the Buccaneers will hold a press conference to announce the fifth person selected for the team’s Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium.  That person’s name will join those of Lee Roy Selmon (inducted in 2009), John McKay (2010), Jimmie Giles (2011) and Paul Gruber (2012) on the stadium façade.

Who will it be?  Let’s consider the possibilities.  Note #1: The following players and coaches are listed alphabetically and not in any order of likelihood.  Note #2: We went deep, deep, deep on this list, so you may consider some of the options below to be much more viable than others.  That’s fair, but there’s no harm in making an overly comprehensive list.  And, just in case this list isn’t comprensive enough, tell me in the comments the obvious candidate(s) I missed. Continue reading

Another Madden Cover Vote Coming

Nearly 20 million votes put the likeness of Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson on the cover of last year’s NFL Madden 13, the latest iteration of the long-running and ultra-popular video game series.  It’s a somewhat nebulous honor for the player who is chosen each year, but it does at least indicate that he is considered among the league’s best performers.  Since fan voting became part of the process in 2011, it also indicates a player’s nationwide popularity, of course.  And if there is a so-called “Madden Cover Jinx,” it certainly didn’t bite Johnson last year, as he set a new NFL record with 1,964 receiving yards last year.

Beginning Monday, it will be time for fans to vote again, this time to decide which player will grace the cover of the milestone NFL Madden 25, which is obviously being named for where it lands in the overall series and not a specific year, as with previous versions.  Once again, there will be a nominee from each of the NFL’s 32 teams, but this time around there’s a twist.

As explained here, there will be a field of 64 candidates this year, as EA SPORTS will pit the 32 current stars on one side of the bracket against 32 of the league’s “greatest legends.”  The final vote will between the winner of the current-star bracket against the winner of the legends bracket.

The voting process will begin next Monday, March 11, at 4:00 p.m. ET, here on ESPN.com.  The exact schedule of the round-by-round voting is not indicated on the site, but last year’s final reveal coincided roughly with the beginning of the NFL Draft in late April.

RB LeGarrette Blount was the Buccaneers’ representative in last year’s bracket, but he fell in the first round to #1 seed and eventual finalist Cam Newton of the Panthers.  Last year’s Final Four was Johnson, Newton, San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  All four could be strong candidates again in 2012, but they’ll have more competition than ever with the opposing bracket of legends.  One can imagine a final vote between, say, Tom Brady and Joe Montana; Calvin Johnson and Jerry Rice; J.J. Watt and Reggie White; or Adrian Peterson and Emmitt Smith.  Check back on ESPN on Monday to see which competitors made the field.

Bucs Abound on PFW All-Rookie Team

Pro Football Weekly and the Pro Football Writers of America have been capping every NFL season with an All-Rookie Team for as long as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been around (PFW and the PFWA combined forces on the matter in the 2000s).  They have rarely liked a Buccaneers rookie class as much as they do the most recent group of newcomers.

The PFW/PFWA selections are as close as it comes to an official NFL All-Rookie Team. The first Buc to get a PFW nod was LB David Lewis way back in 1977, the team’s second year of existence.  The first Tampa Bay class to place more than one player on the team was the 1984 group, with LB Keith Browner and T Ron Heller.

This year, the PFW/PFWA voters have included three Buccaneers on their annual rookie squad: RB Doug Martin, S Mark Barron and LB Lavonte David. Continue reading