The primary architect of one of the greatest defenses in NFL history will be on hand this weekend to celebrate the crowning achievement of that group.
On Tuesday, the Buccaneers announced that Monte Kiffin, the team’s defensive coordinator from 1996-2008, has joined the list of returning alumni from the 2002 Super Bowl championship team. Tampa Bay will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of that Super Bowl victory with a reunion of the ’02 team, capped by a halftime ceremony during Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Raymond James Stadium.
With Kiffin now headed to town, the reunion is remarkably complete. Nearly every key figure from that team will be on hand, from Head Coach Jon Gruden to 20 of the team’s 22 starters in the Super Bowl and nearly three dozen other players and coaches. Those who helped form Kiffin’s top-ranked defense in 2002 and who will be on hand for the weekend’s celebration include Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Ronde Barber (the only member of the 2002 team still playing), Shelton Quarles and Simeon Rice. The only starter not able to return is DE Greg Spires, who had a sack and a tipped pass that led to one of Dwight Smith’s pick-sixes in the Super Bowl. Spires has family obligations to attend to but will be there in spirit and will surely get updates from some of his old teammates.
During his 13-year tenure at the helm of the Bucs’ defense, Kiffin emerged as one of the most respected assistants in league history. His team so completely perfected the Cover Two style of defense that it is now commonly referred to as the “Tampa Two.” The Buccaneers finished in the top 10 in the NFL’s defensive rankings in 11 of Kiffin’s 13 years with the team, ranking at the top in 2002 and 2005 and finishing either second or third in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2007.
Two players won NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors during Kiffin’s time with the team – Brooks in 2002 and Sapp in 1999. Buccaneer defenders earned a total of 36 Pro Bowl berths in that 13-year span, and Kiffin himself was named the Assistant Coach of the Year by the Pro Football Writers Association in 2002.
For a complete list of the returning Buccaneers this weekend, click here.