Super Bowl XXXVII -- Tampa Bay Bios

By United Press International   |   Jan. 23, 2003 at 11:57 AM   |   0 comments

Thumbnail sketches of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Coach Jon Gruden, 1st year -- Will face his former team, the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. Came to the Buccaneers from the Raiders after last season for the price of four draft picks and $8 million. Led the Bucs to a franchise-record 12 wins and first Super Bowl appearance in the club's 27-year existence. The NFL's youngest coach at 39, Gruden is a tireless worker who is considered one of the best offensive minds in the game. Made improving the Bucs' offense a priority. In four seasons with Oakland, Gruden led the Raiders to two playoff berths, including an appearance in the 2000 AFC championship game. Prior to becoming Oakland coach in 1998, Gruden served as offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1995-97. Gruden also worked on Mike Holmgren's staff in Green Bay from 1992-94. Known for his wide range of facial contortions on the sidelines.

Offense

QB -- 14 Brad Johnson, 6-5, 226, 11th year -- One of the most accurate passers in NFL history, ranking third in completion percentage (61.7) behind Steve Young and Joe Montana. Missed the final two regular-season games with a back injury. Returned for the divisional round of the playoffs and passed for 196 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over San Francisco. Led four scoring drives in the first half. Came up huge in the championship game win over Philadelphia, completing 20 of 33 passes for 259 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was 10 of 16 for 179 yards and a touchdown in the first half. Many questioned if Johnson was the right fit for Gruden's complex West Coast offense, but he put any doubts to rest, completing 281 of 451 passes for 3,049 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. Despite leading the NFC with a 92.9 quarterback rating, Johnson was snubbed for the Pro Bowl. Spent his first seven seasons with Minnesota and two with Washington before signing with the Bucs as a free agent in the 2001 offseason.

RB -- 32 Michael Pittman, 6-0, 218, 5th year -- Signed a five-year contract as a free agent in March to replace the popular Warrick Dunn in the Tampa Bay backfield. Spent his first four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Struggled in his first season with the Bucs, rushing for 704 yards and a touchdown while adding 59 catches for 477 yards. Carried 17 times for 41 yards in the divisional round against San Francisco. Suffered a concussion early in the first quarter of the championship game win over Philadelphia. Returned and carried eight times for 17 yards and added five catches for 53 yards. Has an impressive physical package of strength, speed and size. A 1998 fourth-round pick of the Cardinals.

FB -- 40 Mike Alstott, 6-1, 248, 7th year -- Earned his sixth straight Pro Bowl berth this season. Combined an intriguing mix of swift moves and power that has helped cement his reputation as the NFL's top all-around fullback. Carried 17 times for 60 yards and two touchdowns in the divisional round win over San Francisco. In the championship game win over Philadelphia, Alstott carried 17 times for 25 yards, including a one-yard touchdown run. Played in all 16 games this season, rushing for 548 yards and five touchdowns. Added 35 catches for 242 yards and two scores. Has missed just four games since entering the league in 1996 as a second-round pick out of Purdue. Signed a four-year contract extension on April 20, 2002.

WR -- 19 Keyshawn Johnson, 6-4, 212, 7th year -- A talented playermaker who is known for his book, "Just throw me the Damn Ball," written while he was member of the New York Jets. Acquired by the Bucs from the Jets in 1999 offseason for two first-round picks. The Bucs' No. 1 receiver, Johnson led the Bucs this past season with 76 catches for 1,088 yards to go along with five touchdowns. Had a career-high 106 catches for 1,266 yards, but only one touchdown in 2001. Had five catches for 85 yards in the divisional round against San Francisco. In the championship game win over Philadelphia, Johnson had three catches for 40 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Will be matched against Tory James in Super Bowl XXXVII. Has been durable throughout his career, missing just five games in seven seasons. Became the first wide receiver to be selected with the first overall pick since Irving Fryar in 1984 when he was taken with the initial pick by the Jets in 1996.

WR -- 87 Keenan McCardell, 6-1, 191, 11th year -- After being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars in a salary cap move, McCardell signed a four-year, $10 million contract with the Bucs and immediately became a starter opposite Keyshawn Johnson. Finished his first season in Tampa Bay with 61 catches for 670 yards and a team-leading six touchdowns. Held without a catch in the divisional round against San Francisco. Had five catches for 37 yards in the championship game win over Philadelphia. Will be matched against Charles Woodson in Super Bowl XXXVII. In six campaigns with Jacksonville, McCardell had four 1,000-yard seasons. Was a member of the Washington Redskins Super Bowl XXVI team as a rookie, although he spent the season on injured reserve.

WR -- 83 Joe Jurevicius, 6-5, 230, 5th year - The club's third receiver behind Keyshawn Johnson and Keenan McCardell. Signed a four-year contract as a free agent with the Bucs after spending his first four seasons with the New York Giants. Saw action in multiple receiver formations and on special teams, but did not record a reception in Super Bowl XXXV against Baltimore. Had 37 catches for 437 yards and four touchdowns in his first season with the Bucs. In the divisonal round against San Francisco, had three catches for 48 yards and a touchdown. Did not practice in the week leading up to the championship game. His wife Meagan gave birth to the couple's first child, but the baby boy, born prematurely, experienced complications. Made his only catch in the championship game win count with a 71-yard reception that set up a touchdown in the first quarter. A 1998-second round pick of the Giants out of Penn State.

TE -- 85 Ken Dilger, 6-5, 250, 8th year -- One of the NFL's best pass-catching tight ends. Signed a three-year contract as a free agent with the Bucs in April after spending his first seven seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. Played in 14 games in his first season with Tampa Bay, catching 34 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns. Had three catches for 35 yards in the divisional round. Had three catches for 41 yards in the championship game. Has 15 receptions for 147 yards and one touchdown in eight career postseason games.

LT -- 72 Roman Oben, 6-4, 305, 7th year -- Provided stability at the left tackle position after signing a one-year contract as a free agent. Athletic tackle who posseses good quickness off the ball. Also has the ability to play both tackle positions. Did an outstanding job in the championship game against Hugh Douglas. Will be matched against Tony Bryant in Super Bowl XXXVII. A 1996 third-round pick of the New York Giants. Spent his first four seasons with the Giants before playing one season with Cleveland. LG -- 71 Kerry Jenkins, 6-5, 305, 5th year -- In his first season with the Buccaneers after signing a five-year, $10 million deal as a free agent. Took over at left guard for Pro Bowler Randall McDaniel, who retired in the offseason. Suffered a cracked left fibula in a Sept. 23 game against St. Louis but missed just one game. Will be matched against John Parrella in Super Bowl XXXVII. Started his career with the Chicago Bears, but was claimed off the practice squad by the New York Jets, where he played from 1997-01.

C -- 62 Jeff Christy, 6-2, 285, 10th year -- The anchor of the Bucs' offensive line. A three-time Pro Bowler who is in his third season with the Bucs. Signed with the Bucs as a free agent in 2000 after spending his first seven seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. Will be matched against Napoleon Harris in Super Bowl XXXVII. Has a reputation as a strong run blocker. In 1999, Christy became the first Viking center to be selected to the Pro Bowl since Mick Tingelhoff in 1969. A 1992 fourth-round pick of the Phoenix Cardinals. Joined the Vikings as free agent on March 11, 1993.

RG -- 60 Cosey Coleman, 6-4, 322, 3rd year -- Is in his second season as the Bucs' starting right guard. Missed one game this past season. Left the championship game in the second quarter with a sprained right knee. If he plays, will be matched against Sam Adams in Super Bowl XXXVII. An athletic lineman who excels in pass protection. Selected in the second round of the 2000 draft after the Bucs traded up six spots with the Carolina Panthers. At the time, Coleman was Tampa Bay's highest-drafted offensive lineman since Jerry Wunsch was selected 37th overall in 1997. Bypassed his senior season at Tennessee.

RG -- 75 Todd Washington, 6-3, 310, 5th year -- Would start at right guard in Super Bowl XXXVII if Cosey Coleman is unable to play due to a sprained right knee. Took over for Coleman in the first quarter of the championship game. Played in all 16 games this season, making two starts. Has made just three starts in 51 career games. A 1998 fourth-round pick out of Virginia Tech.

RT -- 67 Kenyatta Walker, 6-5, 302, 2nd year -- Was injured in a preseason game in warmups, drawing the wrath of coach Jon Gruden. Slowly emerged from Gruden's doghouse and started 13 games at right tackle. Helped lead a strong effort in the championship game win over Philadelphia in which the Bucs did not allow a sack. Will be matched against DeLawrence Grant in Super Bowl XXXVII. Last season, became the first Buccaneer rookie to start every game on the offensive line since Paul Gruber in 1988. Named to Pro Football's All-Rookie team. Tenacious blocker who displays excellent quickness.

Defense

LE -- 94 Greg Spires, 6-1, 265, 5th year -- In his first season with the Bucs after signing a three-year contract in March. Replaced Marcus Jones, who was injured during training camp. Played 13 games at left end, collecting 3 1/2 sacks and 29 tackles. Will be matched against Lincoln Kennedy in Super Bowl XXXVII. A 1998 third-round pick of the New England Patriots. Spent his first three seasons with the Patriots before he was released just prior to the 2001 campaign. Signed with Cleveland and appeared in all 16 games, including four starts.

NT -- 91 Chartric Darby, 6-0, 270, 2nd year -- Moved into a starting role earlier this season when Anthony McFarland suffered a broken forearm. Has played in 12 games with 29 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks. Will be matched against Mo Collins in Super Bowl XXXVII. Tireless worker whose penchant for being a disruptive force in the opponents' backfield helped him earn a roster spot. Had two sacks in 13 games in 2001. Re-signed as a free agent on Jan. 9, 2001.

DT -- 99 Warren Sapp, 6-2, 303, 8th year -- One of the NFL's most talkative players. A Pro Bowl selection in each of the last six seasons. Widely considered as the NFL's top defensive tackle. A relentless pass rusher who has collected 72 sacks in 124 games. Has said that he will break the NFL all-time single-season sack record, but has been unable to fulfill that promise. Had 7 1/2 sacks this season. Collected one-half sack and also was used in goal-line situations on offense in the divisional round victory over San Francisco. Was not much of a factor in the championship game victory over Philadelphia, registering just one tackle. Will be matched against Frank Middleton in Super Bowl XXXVII. Has three double-digit sack seasons. Had a career-high 16 1/2 sacks in 2000. The 1999 NFL Defensive Player of the Year when he recorded 12 1/2 sacks. Selected with the 12th overall pick in 1995 out of Miami.

RE -- 97 Simeon Rice, 6-5, 268, 7th year -- One of the league's best speed-rushing defensive ends. Led the NFC this season with 15 1/2 sacks. Has reached double-digit sack totals in five of his seven seasons. Had three tackles and a sack in the divisional round victory over San Francisco. Came up huge in the championship game win over Philadelpia, collecting a sack, forcing a fumble and recovering another. Will be matched against Barry Sims in Super Bowl XXXVII. Selected with the third overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 1996. Collected a career-high 16 1/2 sacks in 1999, but made the Pro Bowl only as a "need player." Missed one game in 2000 with the Cardinals in a contract dispute. Left the club following that season, signing a five-year contract with the Bucs as a free agent.

SLB -- 51 Al Singleton, 6-2, 228, 6th year -- Became a full-time starter at strong side linebacker this season after splitting time in the past with Shelton Quarles. Played in all 16 games, finishing with 58 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks. Registered a sack in the divisional win over San Francisco. Tied cornerback Brian Kelly for a the team lead with seven tackles in the championship game win over Philadelphia. Covers a lot of ground and has been consistently improving. Prior to becoming a starter, Singleton made a name for himself on special teams. A 1997 fourth-round pick out of Temple. Signed a three-year contract extension on Jan. 25, 2000.

MLB -- 53 Shelton Quarles, 6-1, 225, 6th year -- After starting the last three seasons at strong side linebacker, Quarles moved inside this season after Jamie Duncan signed with St. Louis as a free agent. Proved to be a more than adequate replacement, finishing second on the team with 113 tackles to go along with 4 1/2 sacks. Matches up against Barret Robbins in Super Bowl XXXVII. Makes the defensive calls for the Bucs' aggressive defense. Owns the longest play in team history when he returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown against Green Bay in 2001. Played first two seasons in the CFL before making the jump to Tampa Bay in 1997.

WLB -- 55 Derrick Brooks, 6-0, 235, 8th year -- The NFL Defensive Player of the Year. A playmaker and one of the NFL's fastest linebackers who collected 118 tackles, five interceptions and four touchdowns. Made an impact in the divisional round with a half-sack, fumble recovery and an interception. Collected six sacks in the championship game win over Philadelphia. A Pro Bowl selection in each of the last six seasons. Has led the team in tackles in five straight seasons. Has 17 career interceptions. Drafted by the Buccaneers with the second of two first-round picks (28th overall) in 1995 out of Florida State. Received the 2000 Walter Payton/NFL Man of the Year award for his off-the-field achievements.

LCB -- 25 Brian Kelly, 5-11, 193, 5th year -- An excellent athlete who specializes in bump-and-run coverage with his strong frame. Started all 16 games and led the Bucs with eight interceptions. He had just three interceptions in his first four seasons. Has not missed a game in his five years as a Buccaneer. Had a hand in helping shut down San Francisco star receiver Terrell Owens in the divisional round. Collected seven tackles in the championship game win over Philadelphia. Matches up against Jerry Rice in Super Bowl XXXVII. Recorded an interception in the 1999 NFC championship game at St. Louis in 1999. Moved into a starting role in 2001. A 1998 second-round pick out of Southern California.

RCB -- 20 Ronde Barber, 5-10, 184, 6th year -- A staple at right cornerback, Barber has played all 16 games in each of the last five seasons. Finished this past season third on the team with 75 tackles to go along with three sacks and two interceptions. Had an interception in the divisional round against San Francisco and also was instrumental in helping containing one of the NFL's best passing attacks. Came up huge in the championship game win over Philadelphia, returning an interception 92 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Also had a sack, a forced fumble and four passes defensed. Will be matched against Tim Brown in Super Bowl XXXVII. Collected a career-high 10 interceptions in 2001 en route to earning his first Pro Bowl berth. His twin brother, Tiki, is a running back with the New York Giants.

SS -- 47 John Lynch, 6-2, 220, 10th year -- Has established himself as one of the NFL's elite strong safeties. Also is considered one of the game's hardest hitters. Despite style of play, has proved to be extremely durable, having only missed one game in the last seven seasons. Selected to his fifth Pro Bowl this season after registering 64 tackles, three interceptions and 3 1/2 sacks. Registered six tackles in the championship game win over Philadelphia. Has led the secondary in tackles in each of the last seven seasons. Plays the run and pass eqaully proficient. Signed a six-year contract extension on Sept. 11, 2000. A 1992 third-round pick out of Stanford.

FS -- 34 Dexter Jackson, 6-1, 203, 3rd year -- In his second season as a starter at free safety. Played in all 16 games and finished fourth on the team with 71 tackles while adding three interceptions. A tenacious defender who has big-play ability. A 1999 fourth-round pick out of Florida State. Spent his first two seasons with the Bucs playing primarily on special teams. In his first full season as a starter in 2001, Jackson had 78 tackles and four interceptions in 15 games.

NB -- 26 Dwight Smith, 5-10, 201, 2nd year -- After playing in four games as a rookie in 2001, Smith has emerged as the club's nickel back this season. Played in 15 games and made plays when he got the chance, finishing second on the team with four interceptions. Had an interception in the divisional round against San Francisco. Began his rookie campaign as the club's primary kick returner, averaging 22.2 yards on 16 returns. A 2001 third-round pick out of Akron.

Specialists

K -- 7 Martin Gramatica, 5-8, 170, 4th year -- One of the NFL's most eccentric kickers. Also widely regarded as one of the league's top kickers. Was again a model of consistency this season, making 32 of 39 field goals and all 32 of his extra points en route to a career-high 128 points. In his career, Gramatica has connected on 110 of 134 field goals. Re-signed to a seven-year contract on Jan. 22, 2000. Connected on field goals of 48 and 27 yards in the championship game win over Philadelphia. Hit a 65-yard field goal as a senior at Kansas State, the longest field goal in NCAA history without a tee. Won the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's top placekicker, as a junior. Brother Bill is a kicker for the Arizona Cardinals. A 1999 third-round pick.

P -- 14 Tom Tupa, 6-4, 225, 14th year -- Was solid in his first season with the Bucs, averaging 42.8 yards on 90 punts, including placing 30 inside the 20-yard line. Signed with the Bucs as a free agent in May after spending the three previous seasons with the New York Jets. Garnered Pro Bowl honors in 1999. Is with his sixth team. A former quarterback as a collegian. Also has played quarterback in the NFL, completing 259 of 505 passes for 3,340 yards with 12 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. Has made 13 starts at quarterback.

PR -- 86 Karl Williams, 5-10, 177, 7th year -- Has amassed the most punt return yards (2,169) in club history. Also has returned a franchise-record five punts for a touchdowns, including one this season. Averaged 9.5 yards on 43 punt returns this season. Returned three kickoffs for 49 yards. Also sees spot duty as a receiver, catching seven passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. Re-signed to a three-year contract in April. Originally signed with the Bucs as an undrafted free agent in 1996 out of Texas A&M-Kingsville.

KR -- Aaron Stecker, 5-10, 205, 3rd year -- Emerged as the club's primary kick returner this season, averaging 25.2 yards on 37 returns. Had a season-long 67-yard return at Detroit on Dec. 15. Took a less traveled road to the NFL, playing for the Scottish Claymores in NFL Europe in 1999. Was named NFL Europe MVP after leading the league in rushing (774 yards) and combined yards from scrimmage (1,050). Signed with the Bucs as a free agent in 2000. Established 23 school records as a collegian as a running back at Western Illinois.

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