The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play in Tampa, Florida, as members if the NFL’s National Football Conference (NFC). The Bucs, as they are known, compete in the NFC South. The club became a NFL franchise in 1976, first playing in the West Division of the American Football Conference (AFC).
Originally, the franchise was awarded to construction company owner Tom McCloskey from Philadelphia. But it became apparent fairly early that McCloskey had financial problems and so the NFL found a new owner in Jacksonville tax attorney Hugh Culverhouse, Jr. Previously, Culverhouse was known for having arranged a franchise exchange between the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Colts.
Over the course of their first and part of their second seasons, the Buccaneers were 0-26. The club finally won their first game when they beat Hank Stram’s New Orleans Saints on the road. They then won their next contest at home defeating the St. Louis Cardinals.
The franchise was first assigned to the AFC West. They played in that conference for just their initial season. They then became a part of the NFC Central where they competed from 1977-2001. They moved to their current division, the NFC South, in 2002
The Bucs, whose mascot is the pirate Captain Fear, have won six division titles, one NFC Championship and one Super Bowl. While playing in the NFC Central, they won three Division Championships (1979, 1981, 1999), and in the NFC South, they earned three more (2002, 2005, 2007). They took the conference crown in 2002, earning a trip to the 2002 Super Bowl. The Buccaneers met the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII, beating them 48-21. In that contest, the Tampa secondary and defensive line controlled the game, with free safety and Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson grabbing two interceptions in the first half.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had two players elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame—quarterback Steve Young and defensive lineman Lee Roy Selmon (1976-1984). However, Young only played for two seasons with the Bucs, while Selmon was with the team for his entire career.
Selmon, who came out of Oklahoma, was the first pick overall in the 1976 NFL Draft. The six-time Pro Bowler notched 742 tackles, 78.5 sacks and 28.5 forced fumbles. Selmon, who was selected as a member of the NFL 1980s All-Decade team, was an All-Pro seven times and the 1979 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Tampa Bay has called two fields home. From 1976-1997, the team played in Tampa Stadium, which was known as Houlihan’s Stadium during the club’s last two years of occupancy. In 1998, they moved in Raymond James Stadium, which holds just over 66,000. The venue, which was publicly funded, cost $168.5 million to build. Raymond James Financial bought the naming rights for a 13-year period at the price of $32.5 million.
In 1994, Culverhouse, who still owned the Bucs, died. After his passing, the owner’s son, Hugh Culverhouse, Jr., realized that the team was near bankruptcy. Culverhouse, Jr. pushed the trustee’s of his father’s estate to sell the club. George Steinbrenner, New York Yankees owner, and Peter Angelos, Baltimore Orioles owner, both showed interest in purchasing the team. However, it looked as though a new owner might move the Bucs. Malcolm Glazer, a businessman who had engineered various corporate takeovers, made a last second bid on the team and purchased the franchise for $192 million. Glazer and his sons committed their energies to making the team a winner. He still owns the club.
The Bucs present general manager is Bruce Allen, who is the son of former NFL head coach George Allen. John Gruden, whose first NFL head-coaching job was with the Oakland Raiders (1998-2001), has been the coach of Tampa Bay since 2002. It was Gruden who guided the Bucs to their Super Bowl win against his former team, the Raiders.