The Tampa Bay Buccaneers would like to wish a happy Independence Day to all of their fans in the United States. Enjoy the holiday, everyone, and be safe!
In honor of everyone's favorite summer holiday, here is a small handful of Fourth of July trivia as it relates to the Buccaneers.
- Born on the Fourth of July!
The Buccaneers have employed roughly 900 players on their various regular-season rosters since their inaugural 1976 season, the same year as the United States' celebrated bicentennial. Only one of those approximate 900 Bucs was born on the Fourth of July.
That would be former running back/kick returner Clifton Smith. Smith, of course, is most well-known for his amazingly swift rise to prominence in 2008, when he became just the third undrafted rookie to make the Pro Bowl since 1970. Smith shares that distinction with former Dallas defensive back Everson Walls (1981) and former Seattle linebacker Rufus Porter (1988).
Smith was on the practice squad for the first seven weeks of that 2008 rookie campaign, but he was activated in time to take the league by storm over the second half of the season. He became just the second Buccaneer to return a kickoff for a touchdown and the first to score on both a kickoff return and a punt return in the same season.
Smith isn't the only well-known current or former NFL player to share his birthday with the United States. Among the others are former defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, who made six Pro Bowl appearances in 12 seasons with New Orleans, Dallas and St. Louis; former Denver running back Floyd Little, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010; and current New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith, who has 55 career sacks and has been to one Pro Bowl.
The Buccaneers have not so fond feelings for one of the handful of current NFL players who were born on the Fourth of July. That would be Atlanta Falcons kick returner Eric Weems, whose 102-yard kickoff runback for a touchdown last December 5 helped turn a 24-14 Tampa Bay lead in the fourth quarter into a 28-24 Atlanta victory.
On the Buccaneers' current roster, the player whose birthday falls closest to Independence Day is second-year tackle Will Barker. Barker was born on July 3, 1987.
- Founding Fathers
Celebrators of Independence Day in the U.S. honor the work of the Founding Fathers that formed the nation. Of course, that term can be applied in a variety of ways. Some use it to describe the many hundreds of leaders and citizens who took part in the Revolutionary War or the crafting of the U.S. Constitution or simply the building of a nation. Some narrow the term down to a small group of prominent Founders any student would recognize – George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, etc.
One convenient list, finite but with a good number of names on it, is the people who signed the Declaration of Independence. John Hancock's is the most famous, but there are 56 names on the document, from John Adams to George Wythe.
In honor of those men, here is a Buccaneers team made up only of players whose surnames appear among the signatures on the Declaration of Independence. In parentheses next to each player is the Founding Father to whom he corresponds.
QB – Doug Williams (William Williams)
RB – Cadillac Williams (William Williams)
FB – Robert Wilson (James Wilson)
WR – Charles Lee (Francis Lightfoot Lee)
WR – Mike Williams (William Williams)
TE – Ron Hall (Lyman Hall)
T – Donald Penn (John Penn)
T – Rob Taylor (George Taylor)
G – Frank Middleton (Arthur Middleton)
G – James Lee (Richard Henry Lee)
C – Steve Wilson (James Wilson)
DL – Gaines Adams (John Adams)
DL – Shawn Lee (Francis Lightfoot Lee)
DL – Rhett Hall (Lyman Hall)
DL – Bob Nelson (Thomas Nelson, Jr.)
LB – David Lewis (Francis Lewis)
LB – Jimmy Williams (William Williams)
LB – Justin Smith (James Smith)
CB – Myron Lewis (Francis Lewis)
CB – Dwight Smith (James Smith)
S – John Lynch (Thomas Lynch, Jr.)
S – Corey Lynch (Thomas Lynch, Jr.)
K – Jay Taylor (George Taylor)
KR – Michael Morton (John Morton)
PR – Karl Williams (William Williams)
- The 76ers
This 2011 Independence Day marks the 235th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. As mentioned, the Buccaneers' began play as the nation was celebrating its 200th anniversary in 1976.
Fittingly, the jersey #76 has had a strong history for the Buccaneers. Here's a look at the players who have worn that number for the team through the years:
- 1976-78: DT Dave Pear. The first Buc to don the number, Pear owned it for three strong years, appearing in and starting 43 games. In 1978, he became the first Buccaneer ever voted into the Pro Bowl.
- 1979-86: DT David Logan. The #76 went right from one outstanding defensive tackle to another, as it was adopted by Logan in his rookie season. Logan was a 12th-round draft pick who came in without high expectations, but he developed into one of the most productive defenders in team history. One of Logan's claims to fame was his nose for the end zone – he actually scored four touchdowns on interception and fumble returns, which was a record for Buccaneer defenders until Ronde Barber and Derrick Brooks came along.
- 1987-89: None. The number was used in training camp and the preseason, of course, but nobody wore it during the regular season for these three years.
- 1990-95: T Scott Dill. Another unsung hero for the Buccaneers, Dill came over as a little-known "Plan B" free agent in '90 and proceeded to make the most of his six years in Tampa. After three seasons as a reserve, he ascended to the starting lineup, played surprisingly well and opened 44 games from 1993-95.
- 1996-99: None. Another four-year absence for #76, but that's the last time that has occurred.
- 2000-01: T DeMarcus Curry. Curry held onto the number for two years but saw action in just three games.
- 2002: T Tutan Reyes. Just a short cameo for the number in the Super Bowl year, as Reyes got into one ballgame with #76 on.
- 2003-07: C John Wade. The number came back into the regular rotation with the arrival of Wade, a free agent signed to be the starting center, replacing Jeff Christy. Wade half of one of those five seasons with a knee injury but otherwise appeared in and started the other 72 contests during his Buc tenure.
- 2008-Present: Wade's departure after the 2007 season worked out perfectly for offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah, a third-round pick in 2008. Zuttah has emerged as a versatile and effective blocker for the Buccaneers, starting at least part of all three of his seasons with the team. He has played center and both guard positions and has 43 appearances and 30 starts on his NFL resume.