Ten highlights from Mike Alstott's career, in no particular order.
RING OF HONOR LINKS
Each week during the offseason, Senior Writer/Editor Scott Smith will dip into the inbox to answer questions from Buccaneer fans. This week, thanks to the welcome Ring of Honor revelations on Wednesday, our attention turns back to some of the greats from the franchise's past. In fact, we begin with a very-early look at who might be next into the Ring after this year's double-dip of Doug Williams and Mike Alstott. And to finish up, we turn it over to the fans, who provided many great answers to a Twitter question on Wednesday.*
Fans can submit questions for upcoming mailbags via Twitter to @ScottSBucs (#BucsMailbag), through a message on the Buccaneers Official Facebook Page or via email at email@example.com. The One Buc Mailbag runs every Thursday and is not necessarily meant to reflect the opinions of the team's management or coaching staff.*1. First! Bet I'm the first to ask this. Now that Mike Alstott and Doug Williams are going into the ring of honor this year, who do you think should be next. I think those were good picks but I was kinda hoping for John Lynch this year. And do you think we'll continue to get two new people a year. Thanks!Jake from Tarpon Springs
It's Jake…from Tarpon Springs. I will never get that commercial out of my head.
And Jake manages to bring the Firsties scourge from message boards into the mailbag for the first time. I hope that doesn't become a trend. But this is a good question, even if it seems a bit early. This is like all those 2016 mock drafts that popped up two days after the 2015 draft was over. Can't we just enjoy the Mike Alstott and Doug Williams news for a little while before moving on to next year? We can't? Okay.
To get to your last question first, sure we could get two new inductees again next year, but I wouldn't necessarily count on it. One thing I really like about the way these Ring of Honor members have been chosen since the whole thing began in 2009 is that it has stubbornly defied a pattern, to the point that you really can't make assumptions from year to year. The picks haven't stayed in chronological order, they haven't alternated between offense and defense and now they haven't even locked in to exactly one choice per year. About the only thing that seems certain is that if you get elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, you're probably getting the Ring that same year. The two-for-one this year was a really fun surprise, especially after one half of the news leaked out a day early, but I don't think it was establishing any kind of trend. So I guess my answer to that part of the question is…maybe?
I was asked a similar question earlier this year in a video mailbag and I made a point of bringing up Alstott because I thought there was a nice symmetry between his famous jersey number and the Bucs' 40th season. I'm pleased that it came to pass (I certainly had nothing to do with the selection); getting the deserving Doug Williams in too was a bonus. Still, plenty of other strong candidates remain, and you've definitely nailed one of them with John Lynch.
In fact, given that Lynch was considered part of The Big Three along with Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp that fueled the franchise's turnaround and the rise of a legendary defense in the mid-90s, he might be THE best choice. Brooks and Sapp are already in; there has to be a spot for Lynch at some point.
Ah, but there's that Hall of Fame thing. The easiest predictions since this Ring of Honor thing began were the Brooks and Sapp selections after they got the call from the Hall. One has to assume the same thing would happen for Lynch, but does that mean the team will wait to see if Lynch does make it into Canton? He's been a finalist each of the last two years, so it's more than reasonable to assume he'll get in at some point in the next few years. I certainly think he deserves it.
I don't know that the owners are waiting to see if Lynch gets into the Hall before choosing him for the Ring of Honor, but I do think it's possible. Therefore I'm going to go in another direction.
Here are some possibilities: Ronde Barber (again, there's the Hall of Fame question), Simeon Rice, Malcolm Glazer, Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden, Monte Kiffin, James Wilder and Mark Carrier. The day may come for all of them, but I've got another name for your consideration, and I'll admit that this is more wishful thinking than an actual prediction for 2016.
Alstott was a no-brainer for eventual inclusion in the Ring, not only because of his excellent career numbers but also because he was (and is) such a fan favorite. I think of Nickerson in the same way. If you were picking the best defenders in franchise history, I assume you'd start with the Hall of Fame trio of Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks. Nickerson would be somewhere in the next handful, along with Lynch and Barber, but I think he's just about as popular among Buc fans as all those others. It's an overused term, and almost an invitation for derision these days, but I really do think Buccaneer fans like "the way he played the game."
In honor of this week's "It's a Bucs Life" Anthem reader at Sunday's game vs Buffalo, we look at the Top 5 seasons in a Bucs uniform for Hardy Nickerson.
Nickerson, who is now the team's linebackers coach, was a big part of that turnaround in the '90s, too, and he got there first. He was an early mentor to those players who would develop into stars and Hall of Famers. And he tackled everything in sight. Nickerson went to five Pro Bowls and was a four-time Associated Press All-pro, twice on the first team. I personally think he should be in the Ring of Honor at some point; why not next year? I mean, he just happens to be around!
2. More Legends on the Staff?
Well, Derrick Brooks has already tried front office work (among a million other worthwhile things, like opening a charter school!), and done it well. Since 2011 he has been part owner and team president of the Tampa Bay Storm in the Arena League. The Storm is currently in first place in the AFL's American South Division.
Otherwise, though, I would guess that we wouldn't see any of those three go into coaching in the NFL. That job is so incredibly time-consuming that you really have to have an overwhelming passion for it to take on that commitment. As I mentioned, Brooks hasn't exactly been idling away the days since his playing days ended; he stays quite busy with the Storm and the Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School and his spot on the Florida State Board of Trustees and his football analysis on Sirius radio…and on and on.
Meanwhile, both Barber and Sapp have had successful careers in the media since their playing days ended. That is a far more common post-playing career path for prominent players. It's still a demanding job and it takes talent, but it's not as all-consuming as coaching.
Heck, any one of the three may prove me wrong. I'm sure they would excel at the job if they chose to do it; I'm just betting that it's not the preferred job on any of their lists.3. Is there anything better than a Mike Alstott highlight video?
- Scott S., Tampa
Okay, I actually asked that question, yesterday on Twitter after just such a video was played at the Ring of Honor announcement. It was meant to be rhetorical, but it got a lot of answers. So check out some of my favorites below as I find a way to do 33% less work for this week's mailbag:
Only thing better would be 2 Mike Alstott highlight videos. https://t.co/2Z9VskA8AO
— YoungNikiLauda (@LUKEFriedWalker) May 13, 2015
Or just one video that's twice as long, right?
Loud and clear, Mike.
Think we could talk him into a comeback?
Yeah, that was my point.
And train whistles.
That's my favorite one.