Another all-time great Buccaneer and future Hall of Famer Ronde Barber will be joining the Buccaneer Ring of honor this season. Barber’s name and number will be unveiled at halftime of the game with the New York Giants on Sept. 22.
With Barber heading into the Ring of Honor, it begs the question: which current and former Bucs should receive the opportunity next?
There are two players that should have already been inducted into the Ring of Honor, running back James Wilder and linebacker Hardy Nickerson.
James Wilder played for the Bucs from 1981-1989 and was a second-round pick out of Missouri in 1981.
Wilder played eight of his nine seasons with the Bucs and made the Pro Bowl in 1984.
Wilder is the all-time rushing leader in Buccaneer history with 6,008 yards and 37 touchdowns. He still holds the Buccaneer record for most carries in a game with 43 during his Pro Bowl season of 1984.
Wilder also holds the Buccaneer record for carries in a season with 407 and overall touches with 492.
His best season in Tampa was his Pro Bowl season of 1984 when he rushed for 1544 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Lawrence Taylor said the Wilder was one of the toughest running backs that he played against during his career. It’s quite a compliment coming from one of the all-time greats.
Meanwhile, Nickerson played with the Bucs from 1993-1999 and quickly gained a reputation for having a nose for the football.
Nickerson played in the prime of his career with the Bucs and was selected to five Pro Bowls from 93-99. He was also voted to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team.
In his first season with Tampa, Nickerson had 214 tackles, which is a Buccaneer record that still stands today.
Six of his seven seasons in Tampa, Nickerson had over 100 tackles and averaged 132 tackles per season during his tenure as a Buccaneer.
I am not privy to the nomination process or how it is determined what former Buccaneer players will be inducted into the Ring of Honor but is long past time to take a look at Wilder and Nickerson.
Gerald McCoy was recently released, but should also one day be considered for the Ring of Honor. For more on McCoy’s legacy in Tampa, check out my article on that very subject.
The only current Buccaneer that has done enough to be inducted into the Ring of Honor is wide receiver Mike Evans.
Evans is one of the most disrespected and underrated receivers in the NFL. If Evans played in New York, Dallas, or on a winning team, he would be lauded as one of the best receivers in the league.
In five years, Evans has become the Buccaneer all-time leading receiver with 6,103 yards, has the most touchdowns by a receiver with 40, and is the youngest receiver in NFL history to have over 6,000 receiving yards.
Consider these numbers, as well five seasons with 1,000 yards receiving, 21 games with 100 or more receiving yards, most receiving yards in a season with 1,524, a Buccaneer record, and most receiving touchdowns in a season with 12, which Evans did twice in 2014 and 2016.
If Mike Evans never played another down for the Buccaneers, he has still earned his induction into the Ring of Honor.