Buccaneers.com's Scott Smith takes a look at the best player in Buccaneers history to wear uniform numbers 81-90.
As the title above would suggest, we've been moving our way up the list of possible jersey numbers and selecting the preeminent Tampa Bay Buccaneer ever to wear each one. We've done so 10 numbers at a time, and for the most part, the third entry on each list has been pretty easy. Thirteen was one of the biggest slam dunks with Mike Evans. Shelton Quarles was the clear choice at 53. And the single easiest choice of all was 63, where Lee Roy Selmon not only dominated but also ran unopposed.
That run has ended, and the day I have dreaded has arrived. You may have noticed that most of these posts have employed the "editorial we," apart from my mea culpa about getting the pick wrong at number seven. I'm going to deviate from that on this list because I have to take responsibility for the pick at number 83. Which, if it isn't clear, I really don't want to make.
But I have to, so let's get to it Some of these choices from 1-99 are inevitably going to be tougher than others – especially today – either due to too many good candidates or too few solid choices, so we're also noting the "level of difficulty" of each choice.
81: WR Jacquez Green
Actually, this is a pretty tough place to start, too. It's not for the same reason that 83 is going to be difficult; in this case, there are a number of candidates that simultaneously seem somewhat worthy of the top spot but don't exactly jump off the page. Those include Green, wide receiver Isaac Hagins, tight end Jackie Harris, tight end Alex Smith and wide receiver Micheal Spurlock (in his second stint with the team). Smith, in particular, had a good four-year run in the mid-2000s, and Hagins wore it for the longest (five years…though only one game in the first year) and was the first to make a mark in it (1976-80). Smith had four more receiving touchdowns than Green but Green had the clear edges in receptions and yards. Green also scored another touchdown on a punt return in (appropriately) Green Bay, and that 95-yard sprint is actually the longest punt return in team history. Green is the only player in team history with at least 50 punt returns and average of 12 yards or better on them.
Level of Difficulty: 7.
It seems like somebody along the way should have blown away the competition in this very good jersey number. In addition to those mentioned above, there were also some nice moments turned in by the likes of Charles Lee and Tim Wright, but nobody has produced more in that number than Green, and that includes on the career Buccaneer AV chart on Pro Football Reference, where it isn't particularly close.
82: TE Ron Hall
The 82 jersey, which is currently being worn by Antony Auclair, is a tight end number, pure and simple. With apologies to Raymond Berry and John Stallworth, this number should always be given to a tight end, and it mostly has been in Bucs history. One tight end or another has worn it for Tampa Bay in each of the past 11 years. The most prominent wide receiver to wear it in Bucs history is probably Alvin Harper and…well, let's not go down that road. This one came down to Ron Hall versus Jerry Bell versus Kellen Winslow. Bell is eliminated first and, while I was already leaning towards Hall before any research, I was a bit surprised to see that he and Winslow finished with nearly identical receiving numbers as Buccaneers. Winslow hit higher seasonal heights but Hall wore the Buccaneers uniform more than twice as long.
Level of Difficulty: 4.
I guess this depends upon whether you value longevity or higher peaks more. In my mind, Hall had it first and Winslow didn't do quite enough to take it away.
View pictures of QB Tom Brady in the new Buccaneers uniforms.
83: WR Vincent Jackson
So here we are. I mean to say…so here I am. I vowed to take responsibility. I've seen this one coming for a while but avoided making a final decision until right now, right after I finished writing up number 82. Vincent Jackson is one of the five best free agent signings the Buccaneers have ever made, a Pro Bowler in his first year on the team and just the second Tampa Bay player ever to record three straight 1,000-yard receiving season (Mike Evans became the third). Dave Moore is more of an icon, a productive, hard-nosed tight end who contributed in many ways and played 13 seasons in a Bucs' uniform, across two separate stints. He also went to the Pro Bowl as a Buccaneer, making it as a long-snapper in his final campaign of 2006. (Moore wore 86 for one year when he returned for his second Buc stint but was back to 83 by that Pro Bowl campaign.) You can decide if it matters or not, but Moore is now a very popular analyst on the Buccaneers Radio Network, teaming up with the legendary Gene Deckerhoff. You won't be surprised to learn that Jackson has Moore beat handily in receiving numbers, with 84 catches and more than double the yards. But Moore, who always had a nose for the end zone, actually has four more touchdowns, 24 to 20. Moore's long run with the team, his willingness to battle through injuries and do whatever the team needed (including learning to long-snap) and his status as a fan favorite make this very difficult, but Jackson's gigantic lead in receiving yards is the deciding factor.
Level of Difficulty: 9.
I'm just glad this is over. If I had to do this again tomorrow, I might go with Moore. While we're here, let's remember his amazing one-handed catch that spurred a comeback win over Chicago in the very first game ever played at Raymond James Stadium.
84: WR Joey Galloway
This used to be a pretty popular number for wide receivers, and back in their NFC Central days the Buccaneers were long terrorized by numbers 84 Randy Moss and Sterling Sharpe. In Buc history, the number was worn by a wide receiver almost every season from 1976 through 2008, though it has now become more the province of the tight ends. Anyway, before Galloway ever got it (and became the last Buccaneer wideout to wear it), it had already belonged to Gordon Jones, Bruce Hill and Charles Wilson, among others. Of those, Hill comes the closest to challenging Galloway, with 2,942 receiving yards and 23 touchdown catches. But Galloway is sixth on the Bucs' all-time chart with 3,912 receiving yards and he tallied 28 touchdowns, plus one more score on a punt return. Galloway ranks 67th in team history in AV, while Hill is 95th. There is a new challenger in town at the moment, as tight end Cam Brate has done quite well in the 84 jersey since 2014. Brate is not yet close to Galloway in yards or AV but he does have 27 touchdowns and the advantage of still being around to add to his totals.
Level of Difficulty: 3.
Hill is probably one of the more underrated players in team history, as he played in the same era as Mark Carrier, and Brate has probably moved to third on this list but Galloway is the clear leader.
View photos of tight end Rob Gronkowski in the new Buccaneers uniforms.
85: WR Courtney Hawkins
Morris Owens caught the first touchdown pass in franchise history and had the 85 jersey for four years, during which he was the top pass-catcher and scorer for the team (albeit with relatively low totals). The number didn't get to do much for the next dozen years until Hawkins and Reidel Anthony kept it in business for a decade (1992-2001). Hawkins came first and though the Bucs somehow managed to get him into five games in his preferred number 5 jersey but the NFL then stepped in and he became 85 the rest of the way. Hawkins and Anthony are nearly identical in AV (Hawkins has 23 to Anthony's 22) and they're both well ahead of Owens. Hawkins had 900 more yards but Anthony had more three more touchdowns. Hawkins had just 20 catches as a rookie but then broke out with 62 for 933 yards in 1993, higher numbers than Anthony ever achieved in a season. Hawkins also added some value as a return man. Since those two, the only player of much note to wear the jersey has been Maurice Stovall.
Level of Difficulty: 7.
It's just so close between Hawkins and Anthony and I have to admit that Anthony does come to mind quickly when I think of Bucs in the 85 jersey. But Hawkins edges him out.
86: WR Karl Williams
"The Truth." This number has almost exclusively belonged to tight ends in Buccaneers history, with the huge exception of Williams for eight years in the middle. That puts him in competition with the likes of Jim Obradovich, Calvin Magee, Tyji Armstrong and Jerramy Stevens. Little known fact about Williams: His 115 games played are the most by any wide receiver in franchise history (though Mike Evans should take that away at some point in 2021). Williams is just 31st in on the Bucs' all-time receiving yardage chart, with 1,700, but that's still well ahead of any of the tight ends on the list. Magee comes the closest with 1,379. But Williams really pulls away from the crowd when you factor in his punt return contributions. His 2,279 punt return yards are a team record, and his 10.7-yard average is quite good. He also owns five of the 11 punt return touchdowns in team history.
Level of Difficulty: 1.
The Truth is without a doubt the Buccaneer you think of when the number 86 comes up.
87: WR Gerald Carter
Man, these 80s are the toughest set of 10 yet. I'll admit that I assumed I would be picking Keenan McCardell here. I want to pick McCardell because that's who I think of in the 87 jersey. But that would be showing my bias, because while I know that Carter was a very good receiver for the team for a long stretch (1981-87), I didn't know off the top of my head that he was number 87. And when you compare the numbers, Carter takes it easily. Remember when I surprised you with the fact that Williams is the team's all-time leader in games played among receivers? Well Carter is second and he's the only other one in triple digits with exactly 100. He's also ninth in franchise history with 3,443 receiving yards, while McCardell is well down the list at 1,844. The difference is obviously longevity, as McCardell was unquestionably a great player for the Bucs, but only for two years. He made huge contributions to the 2002 Super Bowl team and then went to the Pro Bowl in 2003 before being traded to San Diego amid a contract dispute. McCardell actually scored twice in the Super Bowl win over Oakland.
Level of Difficulty: 7.
Maybe it shouldn't be this hard, given that Carter has twice the career AV (as a Buc) than McCardell, but younger Bucs fans are surely going to think of McCardell first. Willie Drewrey and Bert Emanuel also had some memorable moments in the 87 shirt.
View photos of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 53-man roster.
88: TE Jimmie Giles
Giles breaks the run by wide receivers, but only by the slimmest of margins. This one is almost as hard as the 83 selection, and from the standpoint of statistical output, it's actually even harder. That's because Mark Carrier also wore number 88 for five of his six years as a Buccaneer, and until Mike Evans came along he had held the franchise's all-time receiving yardage record for decades. Carrier remains second on that list while Giles comes in fifth, but it's actually pretty close. If we remove the numbers Carrier put up while wearing 89 as a rookie, he ends up with 295 catches for 4,595 yards to Giles's totals of 279 and 4,300. Also, Giles has the lead in touchdown catches, 34 to 24. Carrier was the first Buccaneers wide receiver make the Pro Bowl, but Giles went four times, second only to Mike Alstott among offensive players in franchise history. If, after all that, you still consider this a virtual tie, there is this: Giles was the third person inducted into the Buccaneers' Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium, an honor that has not yet been bestowed upon Carrier.
Level of Difficulty: 8.
That Ring of Honor tiebreaker makes this one a little easier on my conscience than the Jackson-over-Moore selection, but Giles and Carrier really both deserve to be recognized here.
89: WR Kevin House
The 1980s are having a moment here. House joins his contemporaries Carter and Giles on the list, but in this case the selection is much easier. J.K. McKay got the 89 jersey for the franchise's first three years but House came along in 1980 and became the first star wideout the Bucs had. A big play machine, House is third in team history with 4,928 receiving yards and also third with 31 touchdown catches, and he finished with an outstanding average of 17.2 yards per catch. The 89 jersey didn't gain much traction after House's departure for a couple decades but wide receiver Antonio Bryant had a brief run of dominance in it in 2008. Russell Shepard also wore it from 2013-16 and was one of the team's best special teams player in that span.
Level of Difficulty: 1.
House did great things as number 89 and nobody has come remotely close to him since.
90: DE/OLB Jason Pierre-Paul
I know this seems premature, but in just 26 games as a Buccaneer Pierre-Paul already has the most sacks (21.0) by any Buccaneer ever to wear the number 90 jersey. His main competitors in the number are Ron Holmes and Dewayne White, and both of those two (plus Gaines Adams) do have a bit more AV than does Pierre-Paul. That probably won't be true for much longer, though, as Pierre-Paul has signed a new multi-year deal to continue chasing quarterbacks in the red and pewter, and he has shown no signs of slowing down. Though he missed six games last year due to an offseason neck injury, he still contributed 8.5 sacks, including 5.0 over the last two weeks as he truly rounded back into top form. After coming over in a trade with the Giants in 2018, Pierre-Paul broke the team's long drought with a 12.5-sack season, becoming the first Buc since Simeon Rice in 2005 to hit double digits. Holmes did have 19.0 sacks and is the all-time AV leader in the 90 jersey, but as the eighth-overall pick in the 1985 draft it's fair to say the Bucs were hoping for more in their efforts to replace the retired Lee Roy Selmon.
Level of Difficulty: 6.
As with Ryan Jensen at number 66, it pains me to pick a current player who hasn't been around that long, but the board was not stacked at 90 before JPP came along and he has quickly made that number his own.