The late Lee Roy Selmon is the only player enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who spent all or most of his career with Tampa Bay. His bust may get some Buccaneer company in the near future, however.
The Buccaneer teams that turned around an aimless franchise, become perennial playoff contenders and won Super Bowl XXXVII had a core of players who are considered among the best of their generation. Most of those players have since retired, and in the coming years they will start to gain Hall of Fame eligibility. That will start in 2013 with two of the greatest Buccaneers ever, safety John Lynch and defensive tackle Warren Sapp.
On Thursday, the Hall announced its first list of candidates for enshrinement in 2013, and it includes 13 first-year eligible modern-era players. Sapp and Lynch are joined by the likes of offensive linemen Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden and defensive end Michael Strahan. The full list, including those who have been nominated before includes 89 players, 14 coaches and 24 contributors for a total of 127 nominees. That list will be pared to 25 candidates by the Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee in November, and will then be reduced to 15 by early January.
Sapp and Lynch both are strong candidates to make that final 15. Sapp, the 1999 NFC Defensive Player of the Year, was considered a pioneer at his position thanks to his amazing agility, speed and pass-rush ability. He racked up an incredible 96.5 sacks (77 as a Buccaneer), seven Pro Bowl bids and four first-team AP All-Pro selections, and he was selected for the NFL’s All-Decade Teams for both the 1990s and the 2000s. Lynch was one of the most feared tacklers in NFL history and he made nine trips to the Pro Bowl. He was also a four-time AP All-Pro and in 2006 he was named the winner of the very prestigious Byron “Whizzer” White NFL Man of the Year award.
It helps both Sapp and Lynch, of course, that they also won Super Bowl rings during their careers. Interestingly, wide receiver Keenan McCardell, who did not play the majority of his career as a Buccaneer but was also on that 2002 Super Bowl team (contributing two TD catches in the big game), was also on Thursday’s list of nominees.
This is the full list of first-year eligible players nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013:
Quarterback – Steve McNair
Running Back – Priest Holmes
Wide Receiver – Keenan McCardell
Offensive Linemen – Larry Allen (G), Tom Nalen (C), Jonathan Ogden (T)
Defensive Linemen – Sam Adams (DT), Warren Sapp (DT), Michael Strahan (DE), Ted Washington (DT/NT), Bryant Young (DE)
Defensive Back – John Lynch (S)
Kicker – Morten Andersen