Lavonte David, Mike Evans, Will Gholston and many other Tampa Bay Buccaneers are less than two weeks away from playing in a Super Bowl for the first time. They will be led onto the NFL's biggest stage by Tom Brady, who has played in and won more Super Bowls than any other human in league history.
Obviously, Brady's arrival in Tampa allowed the franchise to take a talented roster over the top and get back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years. However, this is not simply a matter of Mr. Super Bowl himself surrounded by an entire roster of players gazing around in wonder. The 2020 Buccaneers actually have nine players who have been on Super Bowl teams, plus eight coaches who either played or coached in the big game. Let's take a look at each of them and what kind of Super Bowl experience they have.
We'll start with the players with a fleeting amount of championship experience and work our way up to Brady.
RB LeSean McCoy
Both McCoy and McLendon were on Super Bowl rosters but were inactive for the game itself. McCoy made it to the final game of the season just last year with the eventual-champion Kansas City Chiefs. He won a ring but didn't play in the victory over San Francisco.
McLendon was a rookie with the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2010 season and he was on the roster for their 31-25 loss to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.
Like McLendon, Brown was a rookie with the Steelers in 2010. He did get to play in Super Bowl XLV but was pretty far down the depth chart on a team that featured Mike Wallace, Hines Ward, Antwaan Randle El and Emmanuel Sanders.
Barner was on the Philadelphia Eagles team that beat Brady's Patriots, 41-33, in Super Bowl LII at the end of the 2017 season. Barner only played on special teams in that game, returning three kickoffs for 73 yards.
OLB Shaquil Barrett
Barrett famously came to Tampa as an unrestricted free agent in the spring of 2019 seeking a chance to start and prove himself after four years as a rotational reserve in Denver. The Broncos made Super Bowl 50 at the end of the 2015, Barrett's first year in the rotation, and one that saw him start six games and contribute 5.5 sacks.
In the Super Bowl, Barrett got 22 plays on defense and played another 26 snaps on special teams. He finished the game with one tackle as Denver beat Carolina, 24-10.
McCoy played in the most recent Super Bowl and Suh played in the one before that. In his one season with the Los Angeles Rams after five years in Detroit and three in Miami, Suh started at defensive tackle next to Aaron Donald and had 4.5 sacks. In Super Bowl LIII against Brady's Patriots, Suh played 92 of the defensive snaps and helped the Rams hold serve most of the way in an unexpected defensive struggle. Suh recorded two tackles and a quarterback, and his QB hit on Brady helped force a third-down incompletion early in the fourth quarter of a 3-3 game. New England eventually won it, 13-3.
Pierre-Paul made it to the Super Bowl in his second NFL season, helping the Giants on their run to the championship in Super Bowl XLVI. An Associated Press first-team All-Pro that year after a 16.5-sack season, Pierre-Paul helped the Giants upset Brady's Patriots for the second time in five years. He had two tackles, one tackle for loss, one quarterback hit and two passes defensed in New York's 21-17 win. Pierre-Paul knocked down a Brady pass on third down in the second quarter to force a field goal attempt and later hit Brady on a throw that ended up as a Chase Blackburn interception.
The Patriots played in five Super Bowls in Gronkowski's nine seasons with the club, but he missed the one at the end of the 2015 season due to a back injury that required surgery. In the other four, two of which earned him championship rings, he caught 23 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns.
Gronkowski's first Super Bowl experience came in XLVI at the end of the 2011 season, which is the same one detailed above in Pierre-Paul's section. The Patriots' tight end caught two passes for 26 yards in that loss to the Giants. Three years later, Gronkowski got his first championship ring when the Patriots bat Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX, and he contributed six catches for 68 yards and a touchdown.
Gronkowski played a huge role in the most offensive Super Bowl ever, as the Patriots lost to the Eagles, 41-33 in LII. He had nine catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns, and his second score gave New England a one-point lead with nine minutes to go before the Eagles scored the last nine points. Most recently, he helped the Patriots win their most recent Super Bowl at the end of the 2018 season with six catches for 87 yards in the 13-3 win over the Rams in LIII. That game was tied, 3-3, with eight minutes to go before Brady hit Gronkowski on a memorable 29-yard play down the left sideline to the Rams' two-yard line, setting up the game-winning touchdown.
QB Tom Brady
And then we get to the G.O.A.T. Brady has started at quarterback in nine Super Bowls – XXXVI, XXXVII, XXXIX, XLII, XLVI, XLIX, LI, LII and LII – and been the victor in six of them (all but XLII, XLVI and LII). Those are the most appearances and wins by any player at any position in NFL history. He was named the MVP after four of those six Super Bowl victories, another NFL record.
Brady owns the two most prolific passing days in Super Bowl history, with 505 yards against Philadelphia in LII and 466 against Atlanta in LI. Overall, he has completed 256 of 392 Super Bowl passes for 2,838 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. Those attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns are all Super Bowl career records by wide margins; in fact, he has more than double the second-place finisher in the first three categories and seven more touchdown passes than Joe Montana (11).
Need a game-winning drive. Brady is credited with six of those in the Super Bowl, the most by any quarterback in league annals. Three of those also qualified as fourth-quarter comebacks, the most famous of which came in Super Bowl LI against Atlanta. The Falcons had a 28-3 lead with three minutes left in the third quarter but Brady led an incredible fourth-quarter onslaught that resulted in a 34-28 overtime win and the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.
As for the Buccaneers' coaches, head man Bruce Arians leads a group of five men on the Bucs' staff who have coached in a Super Bowl. Arians himself won a pair of rings with the Steelers. The first was in Super Bowl XL when the Pittsburgh beat Seattle, 21-10; he was the team's wide receivers coach at the time. Arians was then the offensive coordinator at the end of the 2008 season when the Steelers topped Arizona, 27-23, in Super Bowl XLIII at Raymond James Stadium.
Other Bucs coaches with Super Bowl experience include:
- Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin was an assistant offensive line coach with the Chicago Bears when they lost Super Bowl XLI to Indianapolis, 29-17. Later, Goodwin was an offensive assistant under Arians when they beat Arizona in XLIII.
- Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong was in the same position with Atlanta when they lost that wild Super Bowl LI to the Patriots.
- Quarterbacks Coach Clyde Christensen was part of two Indianapolis staffs that made the Super Bowl, first as a wide receivers coach in the XLI win over Chicago and then as the offensive coordinator for the SB XLIV loss to New Orleans at the end of the 2009 season.
- Assistant Coach Tom Moore's incredibly long coaching tenure practically guaranteed he would coach in a Super Bowl or two. In fact, it has been four so far: SB XIII as the Steelers' wide receivers coach when they beat Dallas 35-31; SB XIV in the same position for the Steelers when they beat the Rams, 31-19; SB XLI with Indianapolis as the offensive coordinator when the Colts beat Chicago, 29-17; and SB XLIV with the Colts as a senior offensive coordinator/consultant when they lost to the Saints, 31-17.
Three other current Tampa Bay coaches played in Super Bowls:
- Outside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote was the starting right inside linebacker for Pittsburgh in its Super Bowl XL win over Seattle and XLIII win over Arizona, the latter in Tampa. He had five tackles in the first of those two games and two stops in the second one. Foote was also a reserve linebacker in Pittsburgh when the Steelers lost to Green bay in SB XLV.
- Offensive Assistant Antwaan Randle El is another former Steeler who got multiple trips to the big game. In the win over Arizona in XLIII he had three receptions for 22 yards and also threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward. In the XLV loss to Green Bay he had two catches for 50 yards, with along of 37.
- Specialists Coach Chris Boniol was the Dallas Cowboys' placekicker during the 1995 season, which ended with a 27-17 win over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XXX. Boniol was perfect on his kicks in that game, making two field goals and three extra points.
View photos of the Buccaneers celebrating their NFC Championship Win.