Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What's a Buccaneers favorite month? July (yeah I don't get it either)

Happy July everyone!  Or as I like to call it, my favorite month because I don't have to work (yay teachers) and it's the month of my birth.  Good combination those two.

Anyways, I figured this would be a good time to share a Buccaneers quad I got from a guy on Blowout.  He said he had just found it and it could be mine for $2 shipped.  That's cheap as poop, so  said sure, and it was mine a few days later.  It's somewhat unique for this set in that it actually showcases a defensive player, so let's get to it!

Warren Sapp is obviously the unique guy here, since he played DT.  We see him on ESPN all the time these days, but it really is crazy to look at how good of a player Sapp was after being picked 12th in the 1995 draft.  He was actually the fourth defensive player selected, behind DEs Kevin Carter, Mike Mamula, and Derrick Alexander.  Those other guys were okay, but Sapp (and fellow first round Buccaneer pick Derrick Brooks) are far and away the two best players in the 1995 draft class.  Sapp had just 3 sacks in 8 starts as a rookie, but then exploded over the next five seasons with 9, 10.5, 7, 12.5, and 16.5 sacks from the DT position.  DTs are typically more run stuffers and space occupiers, so to have multiple double digit sack years from that position is crazy impressive for Sapp.

From 2001 on Sapp wasn't quite as awesome as in his dominant years, with 6 sacks the year this card is based on and only 12.5 over the next two, but Sapp was still good enough for 7 straight Pro Bowl nominations and four placements on the All Pro team.  He left Tampa Bay for Oakland in 2004, and though Sapp was sort of a shell of himself for 3 of those 4 years, he did add a fourth double digit sack season in 2006 at the age of 34.  That's an incredible feat for a DT in his 12th year in the league, but for Sapp it was just another notch on the HOF belt.

Aaron Stecker is a weird choice for this card - Warrick Dunn was actually Tampa's RB in 2001, but he was sort of on his way out for Michael Pittman so I guess Pacific went with the previous year's backup RB instead.  Stecker was undrafted in the NFL, probably due to his transfer from Wisconsin to Western Illinois after Ron Dayne unseated Stecker as the Badgers starting RB.  The Bears grabbed Stecker undrafted in 1999 and let him go, but Tampa liked him enough to pick him up in 2000 and make him their kick returner/change of pace back.  He spent four years in Tampa Bay with just two starts, with his two highlights being a Super Bowl win in 2002 and being named the offensive MVP of NFL Europe in 2000.

Stecker moved on the New Orleans following the 2003 season and he spent the best five years of his career there.  Stecker started 14 games over those five seasons, contributing 9 total touchdowns and over 2,000 offensive yards along with some of the best kick return numbers of his career.  2008 wasn't a great year for Stecker though, and so after the season he was released by the Saints.  Stecker made one more go at it in 9 games with the 2009 Falcons, but after that his NFL career was done.

Keyshawn Johnson was such a beast, and he was at his most beastly during his Tampa Bay years.  He was the first pic on the 1996 draft by the Jets (a fact I often forget, I figured he was like mid first round), but he's the not the most valuable WR to be drafted that year.  His career stats actually lag behind fellow draftees Terrell Owens and Marvin Harrison, and they are pretty much identical to those of 2nd round pick Mushin Muhammad.  Which is no real bash against Keyshawn - this was just a crazy good year for WR, with guys like Eric Moulds, Amani Toomer, Terry Glenn, Joe Horn, and Eddie Kennison all finishing within 2,500 yards of Keyshawn.  Johnson had a dominant first five years for the Jets, with 8+ touchdowns in 4 of 5 years and two seasons of 1,000+ yards despite being the clear focus of a struggling Jets offense for much of that time.  Frustration led to Johnson asking out of New York, and in 2000 the team obliged as they sent him to Tampa Bay for two first round picks.

Johnson was dominant in Tampa Bay, with two 1,000 yard seasons over four years including his career best 106 catch/1,266 yard 2001 (where he somehow only caught one touchdown all year).  This performance earned Johnson his third and final Pro Bowl nod.  He won a Super Bowl with the team in 2002, but in 2003 played just 10 games due to issues with Jon Gruden, and so once again he was traded to another team, this time to the Dallas Cowboys for Joey Galloway.  Johnson then spent two seasons in Dallas and one in Carolina where he had 70, 71, and 70 catches respectively, but wasn't able to cross 1,000 yards or make any Pro Bowls before hanging up his cleats in 2006.  He is currently ranked 29th all time in receptions and 34th in receiving yards.

Finally we have Mike Alstott, one of the only FB ever to tote the ball on his own about as often as he blocked for others.  Alstott was a 2nd round pick in 1996 by the Buccaneers, and despite his FB designation he actually ranks third in rushing yards and touchdowns for his class, behind Eddie George and Stephen Davis but ahead of Karim Abdul-Jabbar and Tim Biakabutuka.  Alstott's first seven years in the league are seven of the finest you'll ever see for a "running fullback," and he was sent to 6 Pro Bowls and awarded three All Pro nominations for his efforts.  He scored a ton of touchdowns in his time in Tampa but he was more than just a touchdown vulture, as he actually had three seasons of 35 plus receptions (including a career high 65 in his rookie season) and two seasons of 200+ carries (including 242 for 949 yards in his career best 1999 campaign).  Alstott's later career was marked with concussion issues, and its concussions that eventually forced him to retire, but he's still remembered today as one of the brusing-est FBs to ever play the game.  And dang did he play it well.

Who wins the card?  I think it's got to come down to Sapp and Alstott, who are both two of the best to ever play their position (Keyshawn is top 50 to ever play WR but I don't think I'd go top 25 with him).  While Alstott was an absolute beast, Sapp is a Hall of Famer, so my choice here is Sapp.

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