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2002 Bucs: Where Are They Now?


It’s been ten years since Tampa Bay officially shredded the “Yucks” label and became Super Bowl champions. They were led by one of the most dominant defenses in NFL history, holding teams to 12.3 points per game during the regular season.

But unlike great defenses of the past (Chicago and Baltimore), Tampa Bay underwent turmoil after their championship season, and the core of the team did not stay together for long.

A decade later, have a look at what became of some of the most significant figures from that legendary team.

Jon Gruden

No team paid a higher price to get a coach—literally, Tampa gave up two first-round draft picks, two-second round draft picks and $8 million—and no team was rewarded as instantly for doing so as the Bucs.

But Gruden’s first year in Tampa Bay was by far his most successful. He missed the playoffs in four of his next six seasons with the team and never won another playoff game with the Buccaneers after Super Bowl XXXVII.

After being dropped for Raheem Morris (big mistake) following the 2008 season, he picked up his current gig as color commentator on Monday Night Football. His name is consistently in public discussions for head coaching vacancies but he has been a staple on ESPN ever since. Sanzenbacher!

Brad Johnson

One of the great hidden secrets in NFL history is just how well Brad Johnson played during the 2002 season. He threw 22 touchdowns and only six interceptions in 13 starts behind center. He had the third-highest passer rating in the NFL (just behind season MVP Rich Gannon), ahead of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Donovan McNabb.

But that was his last-ever season like that. Johnson threw 21 picks in ’03. He was benched the following season and played four more seasons—two in Minnesota and two in Dallas—before retiring following the ’08 season. His career lasted 17 years.

He is now a teacher and coach in Athens, Georgia.

Mike Alstott

The A-Train made six consecutive pro bowls during his 11-year career, the last of which came in ’02. The following season, he played only four games after suffering a neck injury and undergoing the first of multiple neck surgeries. He spent the entire ’07 season on injured reserve with lingering neck problems before retiring in the offseason.

Alstott is currently the head football coach Northside Christian School across the bay in St. Petersburg, Fla. He will be eligible for the Hall of Fame next year.

Keyshawn Johnson

As much talk as Keyshawn is susceptible to from former teammates (*cough* Warren Sapp *cough*), he was undeniably a big factor in the team’s championship chase.

But the former No. 1 pick’s tenure with the Bucs will be more remembered for his fallout with Jon Gruden the following year when he was deactivated from the team midway through the season. He never played another playoff game after Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl victory, playing two years in Dallas and a final season in Carolina.

He has been an analyst for ESPN ever since, primarily for Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday NFL Countdown.

Warren Sapp

Along with John Lynch, Sapp only played one more year in Tampa Bay, a tumultuous 7-9 season that was highlighted by Keyshawn Johnson’s very public fallout with Jon Gruden and the rest of the team.

Sapp signed with the Raiders in ’04 but failed to match the same level of success he had with the Bucs. While Sapp did come back from injury to have a very productive ’06, Oakland went 15-49 during his four-year tenure with the team.

For better or worse, Sapp will always be talking. Since retiring, he has been an analyst on Showtime’s Inside the NFL and the NFL Network’s NFL Total Access and NFL GameDay Morning. He has been outspoken on a number of subjects, including taking shots at Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall.

In April of this year, Sapp filed for bankruptcy. In his filing, he claimed to have lost his Super Bowl XXXVII championship ring, along with his championship rings from the University of Miami. In August, he came out with an autobiography, in which he was critical of Keyshawn Johnson and former Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.

Simeon Rice

Rice was an absolute beast in ’02. He finished with 15.5 sacks, forced six fumbles and had a stretch of five consecutive games with at least two sacks. He also had two of Tampa Bay’s five sacks in the Super Bowl. Rice followed up with an equally impressive ’03 season, picking up another 15 sacks and six forced fumbles, but the team missed the playoffs and Sapp and Lynch were gone the following season. Without the same talent on that side of the ball, Rice’s numbers majorly dropped off after his 30th birthday. His career in Tampa Bay lasted only three more seasons and he wrapped up with minor stints in Denver and Indianapolis in 2007.

In 2009, Rice graduated from the New York Film Academy and has since directed one film, entitled “When I Was King.”

Derrick Brooks

Brooks will, in all likelihood, go down as the greatest player from the Buccaneers legendary defense. He made nine All-Pro teams, was the 2002 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year and returned an interception for a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

He made the Pro Bowl every year, except for ’07, after the team’s championship. Brooks played his entire 14-year career in Tampa Bay, retiring before Raheem Morris took over in ’09.

When he isn’t picking games for TDdaily, Brooks is a football analyst for ESPN and co-hosts a Sirius NFL radio show. He has also created a scholarship foundation in Tampa.

John Lynch

Lynch was part of the 1993 draft class, meaning he was with the club for two more years than either Sapp or Brooks prior to the SB run.

The hard-hitting safety missed the Pro Bowl in ’03 for the first time in four seasons and was released by the team. But Lynch’s career had an excellent second act when he signed with the Denver Broncos. He stayed with them for four seasons, nearly reaching the Super Bowl in ’05.

Lynch is now a color commentator for Fox’s NFL coverage, typically broadcasting alongside Dick Stockton. The nine-time Pro Bowler will be eligible for the Hall of Fame next year.

Ronde Barber

Of all the defensive talent on the 2002 Buccaneers squad, Ronde Barber was the only player that could rival Derrick Brooks’ post-Super Bowl production. Barber was only 27 during the championship season and has since earned three All-Pro selections. He made his 200th consecutive start this seasons, while making the transition to free safety.

Barber is the only holdover from ’02 team to still be playing with Tampa, although that defense is a shell of its former self.

Dexter Jackson

Jackson became Larry Brown 2.0 after his two first half interceptions against the Raiders made the safety the last defensive Super Bowl MVP. He filed for free agency and cashed in by signing with the Arizona Cardinals, a deal that last all of one season. He returned to Tampa Bay the following season and ended his career with a three-year stint in Cincinnati.

He has since moved into broadcasting, stating a sports radio show in Clearwater, Florida, as well as working in a non-profit children’s crisis center in Tampa.

Martín Gramática

This entire piece was really just a ploy to put in this video of his brother Bill tearing his ACL. It should bring joy to your all your lives.

Danny Moran is TDdaily’s NFC South blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @DannyJMoran.