Several dozen men continued to fight for their spots on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster Saturday at the team's training camp. Among the capacity crowd looking one were several dozen others who knew the feeling well.
The Buccaneers held their annual training camp "Legends Day" on Saturday, and 36 former Tampa Bay players accepted invites to be the day's VIPs. Among those in attendance were the team's all-time leading rusher, James Wilder, Ring of Honor member Jimmie Giles, Pro Bowl return man Clifton Smith and 1980s star receiver Kevin House. Future Hall of Famer Ronde Barber was also on hand, though he has watched much of this year's training camp as he prepares for his role as an analyst on the upcoming WFLA television broadcasts of the Buccaneers' preseason games.
The reunion was organized by Jill Hobbs, the Buccaneers' Player Benefits & Alumni Program Manager, who has been kept quite busy since the franchise began placing an emphasis on staying connected with its former players about 15 years ago. Legends Day is an important part of that as team alumni get an opportunity not only to witness their successors in action but also to reconnect with each other.
READ: [NOAH SPENCE "FLASHES" EVERY DAY](5 Standouts from Camp, August 6 1. S Chris Conte Conte, who has been working as one of the Bucs' starting safeties, had his best practice since camp kicked off, intercepting two passes and nearly picking off a third. Conte picked up his first interception off at the start of practice to end the first-team offense's two-minute drill and added another takeaway when he intercepted a tipped pass. After practice, Head Coach Dirk Koetter praised Conte's cover skills, comparing him to a cornerback. 2. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins Earlier this week, Koetter said that Seferian-Jenkins would be working with the second-team offense and Cameron Brate would get the majority of the reps with the ones. Koetter's explanation was simple – Brate has been the better player during camp. On Saturday, Seferian-Jenkins put together an impressive performance, catching a touchdown during the two-minute drill after the ones failed to score in addition to catching a handful of passes throughout the day. 3. DE Robert Ayers The Buccaneers have lined Ayers up all over the field during training camp, whether it's on the edge or inside, and he's had success wherever he's been asked to play. On Saturday, Ayers impressed in the run game, picking up at least two tackles for a loss. He also did a nice job sniffing out a screen intended for Doug Martin to shut the play down in the backfield. 4. LB Adarius Glanton Two of the Buccaneers' reserve linebackers, Glanton and Jeremiah George, had excellent practices on Saturday, so either player could be listed here. While Glanton and George both had impressive plays against the run, Glanton also picked up an interception, picking off a Mike Glennon pass intended for Peyton Barber. 5. DE Howard Jones Those who didn't see Jones' hit on Russell Hansbrough probably heard it. Jones, who had an impressive campaign as a reserve defensive end for the Bucs in 2015, laid a big hit on Barber in the beginning of practice and took down Mike James for a loss near the end of practice. Overall, it was an excellent day for the Bucacneers' defense. "http://www.buccaneers.com/news/article-smith/Noah-Spence-Flashes-Every-Day/13055fdd-16e7-4f4b-a229-ba662710e698")
"I think it's important for a couple reasons," said Jason Odom, a former offensive tackle who played with the team from 1996-2000. "One, you get to see your former teammates, and there aren't a whole lot of things that bring us together these days. The other thing is just feeling like you belong to some sort of legacy. We all feel some sort of connection to the Buccaneer organization one way or another, whether you play one year or 15 years here. So it's special to be invited back and to be treated so nicely."
Like many retired players, Odom continues to live in the Bay area. He had a second career in law enforcement after his playing days and currently has a son set to play football at Jesuit High School, located just over a mile from Buccaneer headquarters. He reunited on Saturday with former teammates and fellow offensive linemen Tony Mayberry, Ian Beckles, Jorge Diaz and Cosey Coleman, among many others.
After taking in the team's two-hour practice, the three-dozen Buccaneer Legends took to the field for a group photo and some more socializing. As the current players headed in from practice there was a mingling of Buccaneer greats past and present…and given how many alumni had kids with them, maybe some of the future, too.
Four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, one of the most accomplished players of the current Buccaneer era, was glad to see the franchise place such value on his predecessors.
"This is great," said McCoy. "To see guys be recognized, or not forgotten, for all the work they put in while they were here in Tampa, that's always great to see. It gives me hope and excitement about how I'm going to be treated when I'm done playing."
McCoy is heading into his seventh NFL season and he's still early in a second Buccaneer contract that lasts through the 2021 season. Like Barber, Mayberry, Odom and several of the other alumni in attendance on Saturday, McCoy could play his entire NFL career in Tampa. Whether or not that comes to pass, he plans to come out for such Buccaneer alumni gathering in the future.
"I'm a Buc for life regardless of whether I retire here or not," said McCoy. "I'm going to come back and be a Buc on days like this. They gave me the opportunity to play in the NFL and live out my dream, so I'm going to be a Buc for life."
The following Buccaneer Legends attended training camp on Saturday: