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The Greatest Bucs: Special Teams Ace

Fans helping to select the All-Time Buccaneers Team may not have a harder task than the one they face this week: Choosing the two greatest running backs in team history

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LB Jeff Gooch made his name as a special teamer before getting a shot at the Bucs' starting lineup in 1998

No, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers All-Time Team won't have everything necessary to field an actual playing squad in this era of specialization. With only 27 players, there will be some depth concerns; there's no nickel back, for instance, let alone a man to play in the dime. Someone along the offensive line will have to learn to long-snap. And forget about going three-wide on offense.

The All-Time Team will have a few notable specialists, however – kickers and punters, for instance, and a return man. And this group would not be complete without one other standout sub: the Special Teams Ace.

The NFL reserves a spot for a special-teamer on its AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters, and so will we as we select the Greatest Bucs in franchise history. That's our task this week: to decide which player in the Buccaneers' 28 seasons deserves a spot on the All-Time Team thanks to his prowess on the kicking teams.

To clarify, this spot will not go to a kicker or return man of any kind, unless a player in that category also distinguished himself as a blocker or a cover man. We wouldn't give the spot to Karl Williams, for instance, unless it is determined that Williams also excelled in other areas of special teams work. Williams will get his shot in a few weeks when we vote for the return man.

The position is at least partially quantifiable by numbers, more so than, say, offensive tackles, but less so than receivers or backs. Dana Nafziger and Jim Obradovich were among the team's leaders in special teams tackles for several years running during the early seasons. Corey Ivy has led the team in that category the last two seasons. But there are also more subjective elements involved in identifying a great special teamer: toughness, guts, instincts, desire.

Below you will find brief accounts of 10 players who we have nominated for the Special Teams Ace spot on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers All-Time Team. Please review their qualifications and vote for one player in the poll to the right. Your vote will determine who makes the team at the position, although the results will not be announced until the entire team is revealed near the beginning of the 2004 season.

This is the 10th installment of our ongoing effort to determine the Greatest Buccaneers at every position. Already you've selected two cornerbacks, two defensive ends, two outside linebackers, two safeties, two offensive tackles, two running backs, one center, one tight end and one punter. To review the positions discussed so far, visit the All-Time Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team home page.

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All-Time Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team: Nominated Special Teams Aces

The nominations are presented in alphabetical order. Only a player's accomplishments with the Buccaneers are considered.

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