Friday, February 5, 2021

The Franchise 9: Tampa Bay Buccaneers


My last Franchise 9 post featured the defending Super Bowl and current AFC Champs, the Kansas City Chiefs. Now we are just a couple of days before the 55th Super Bowl, let's take a look at the best players the Chiefs' opponents can provide. Here are the nine best players in the history of reigning NFC Champion, Tampa Bay.

1. James Wilder, RB (1988 Topps)

Not too many teams have no quarterback on their Franchise 9. The Bucs are one. Maybe if Tom Brady plays until he's 50, Tampa Bay will have a QB. The team has just never had a franchise-altering passer. But running backs...well, I guess they still haven't had too many superstars there, either. James Wilder is the team's all-time leading rusher with 5,957 yards and 37 touchdowns. He made one Pro Bowl appearance. He ranks 11th on the team's all-time Approximate Value list. Though stars like Mike Evans or Chris Godwin may soon surpass Wilder in career achievement, right now he stands as the best offensive player the Buccaneers have fielded.


2. Lee Roy Selmon, DE (1984 Topps)

Lee Roy Selmon was the first pick ever made by the expansion Buccaneers. He made them look good. After just their fourth season in the league, the Baby Bucs made it to the NFC Championship game in 1979 before losing to the Rams. Selmon was a big part of that, starring as the only All-Pro (or even Pro Bowler) on that squad. He made five other Pro Bowls and was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1980s before being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995. He was the first Buccaneer in Canton.


3. Gerald McCoy, DT (2016 Panini Shining Armor)

Gerald McCoy spent nine seasons in Tampa Bay. He made the Pro Bowl in six of those seasons, establishing himself as one of the game's top defensive linemen of the past decade. He is currently third on the franchise's all-time sack list with 54.5. He ranks #9 in team history in AV.



4. Simeon Rice, DE (2006 Upper Deck 10-Sack Club)

Simeon Rice is second for the club with 69.5 sacks. While playing for the Buccaneers, he made two Pro Bowls and one 1st-Team All-Pro. He's probably the best edge rusher the team has ever had.


5. Warren Sapp, DT (1997 Collector's Choice Turf Champions)

Warren Sapp was a gift for the Buccaneers back in the 1995 NFL Draft. Though he was considered by many to be the most talented player in the draft, character concerns caused a few teams to shy away from drafting him. After he slid to the 12th pick in the first round, Tampa Bay decided he was worth the risk and selected him. Boy, were they right! Sapp rewarded them with seven Pro Bowls and four 1st-Team All-Pro nominations. He recorded more sacks for the team than anyone else in history and earned his way onto two All-Decade teams, despite his career span giving him only five years in each of those two decades. He became the second Buccaneer in the Hall of Fame.


6. Derrick Brooks, LB (2000 Topps)

I'm not sure there has ever been as successful a draft as the Bucs had in 1995. After stealing Sapp with the 12th overall pick, they traded back into the first round and chose Derrick Brooks with the 28th pick. All the two of them did was become the two best players in franchise history. Brooks played his entire career with the Buccaneers. He was a 1st-Team All-Pro five times and Pro Bowler 11 times in 14 seasons. He is the Bucs all-time leader in tackles and forced fumbles and is fourth in interceptions with 25 from his linebacker position. He received a bust in Canton in 2014, his first year of eligibility.



7. Hardy Nickerson, LB (1995 Flair)

While Brooks and Sapp were the studs on the Buccaneers' defense from the mid-90s on, Hardy Nickerson already had the defense going in the right direction when those two arrived. Nickerson was just hitting his prime when he left Pittsburgh for sunny Tampa Bay, and he made an immediate impact. In 1993, his first season with the Bucs, Nickerson recorded an eye-popping 214 tackles. He was a tackling machine, becoming the then-team leader (still fourth in history) despite playing only seven seasons with the team. He received a pair of All-Pro nods en route to his spot on the 1990s All-Decade Team.

8. Ronde Barber, CB (2003 Flair)

Ronde Barber is the team's all-time leader in interceptions (47), is third in tackles (1044), and second in fumble recoveries (12). He also had a nose for the end zone, scoring 12 defensive touchdowns in his career. Wherever the ball was, Barber was, and he had a knack for making the big play. He earned a spot on the All-Decade Team for the 2000s and has been a HOF finalist for the past couple of years. I can't help but think his time is coming soon.

9. John Lynch, S (1997 Pacific Invincible Smash-Mouth)

John Lynch was a feared hard-hitter in his playing days. During his stint in Tampa Bay, Lynch played 11 years, making five Pro Bowls and four All-Pro teams. Like his former secondary mate, Ronde Barber, Lynch has also been a HOF finalist in recent years. His playing career may have fallen just a little bit short of that accolade, but combined with his success as GM for the 49ers, he may have enough to put him in Canton one day.

It's easy to see which side of the ball the Buccaneers have ridden to success. Eight of the nine players listed here are defenders. Moreover, for a stint from 1997-1999, five of these defenders (Sapp, Brooks, Nickerson, Barber, and Lynch) played together. In short, Tampa Bay had five of the best nine players in team history not only on the roster at once, but on the field at the same time, in one unit. It's not hard to see how the team was able to win a Super Bowl in the early 2000s with nary a memorable offensive player on the team. Now that the team is back in the Super Bowl, but it's the offensive firepower that is the heart of the team. I can already tell you changes that will happen to this list in the next year, barring any unforeseen calamities: Mike Evans and Lavonte David will join, most likely bumping off James Wilder and Gerald McCoy/Simeon Rice. David nearly made the cut already, and one more year should make him too much to ignore anymore. Right now, he and his teammates have bigger concerns. Like trying to take down the Chiefs on Sunday and bring home his first ring.

Some notes on this series:

  1. This includes Super Bowl Era players only.
  2. The "nine" in Franchise 9 is to fill a page in a binder. There is no intent to fill a roster or even a starting lineup.
  3. A player can represent multiple teams.
  4. I tried to find a balance between steady producers with longevity and explosive players with shorter careers. Time with the team does count for something, as does impact with the team.
  5. For a link to Franchise 9 lists that I have already posted, click here.
  6. This is all subjective, so I'd love to hear whom you would choose!

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Trading Packs for Cards

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I found cards in the store for the first time in forever. I took advantage and picked up a blaster of 2020 Contenders football that I already shared my spoils. I also picked up two packs of Topps Holiday. I have to admit, I didn't have too much interest in the annual holiday edition this year, but it's always fun to rip open some packs. The result is that almost everything I pulled ended up as trade bait on my TCDB list.

Each pack had ten cards, but only nine could be scanned at once. When I scanned them, I tried to choose the cards I thought bloggers would be most interested in seeing. Sorry, Marlins. From this pack, only Hosmer fits in my collection. The rest became trade bait. And extra points to Hosmer for having Wrigley ivy in the background, too.

Once again, only one of these cards goes in my collection. As I flipped through the cards in this pack, I came across a Carlos Correa that was backwards. I knew that meant something, and I was happy because I collect Correa. So I turned the card over, wondering if there was an auto or, more likely, an SP. I examined the front, searching for a candy cane or Christmas socks or something. I couldn't figure it out, so I just thought maybe the card was turned around. Then I realized I could check the code, so I went back to the back and found the card was, indeed, a variation. I still couldn't find it. So I looked online. Before I reveal the holiday-themed variation, take a closer look and see if you can find it.

Do you see the SP-ness of this card?
There's snow on the ground! I mean, I can see the snow, but it just doesn't look that out-of-place to me. It didn't even register in my mind. Maybe all of you saw it right away. Oh well, I won't complain too much because the one SP I pulled fills a collection need.

These cards weren't on my tradelist on TCDB for 2 hours before I received a transaction proposal. Somebody must be building this set because every 2020 Topps Holiday card I had for trade was claimed in one trade.

I quickly flipped these cards for a few cards that I wanted much more.

A green bordered parallel from Topps Gallery of ASG MVP Juan Marichal. This one is numbered to 250.

Two players representing my Alma Mater, Southern Utah University. SUU players on cards are a rarity, so I'm happy to pick up these two from 2016. Miles Killebrew is still with the Lions, who drafted him, but Ammon Olsen never played in the NFL.

And two cards from my other college fandom, the BYU Cougars. Jeremy Guthrie is an on-card auto here.

At the end of the day, I'm perfectly happy taking my 2 packs of Topps Holiday and turning them into these five cards. These certainly mean much more to me. I have to say, though--this was the first time I've ever traded all the contents of a pack rip at one time. It certainly made pulling the cards for the trade easier because they hadn't even been put away yet. But that is one reason I buy packs--so I can have something to trade for cards that I might want. This worked out perfectly.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

2020 Trade Map and 2021's First Trade


I kept track of all my trades again this year, both with fellow bloggers and through TCDB. Here is a snapshot of where my cards were coming and going. I wonder how accurate this would be to use as an indication of which communities have more card collectors. There is definitely more of a cluster in the East with an empty Midwest and a scattering of traders in the West. Three new states were added this year that weren't on my map for 2019: North Dakota, Indiana, and my home state of Utah. Massachusetts and New Hampshire dropped off the map after I had completed trades with those two states in 2019, but not in 2020. Overall, I can see at a glance that I did less trading in 2020 than in 2019, but I could have told you that before I saw the map. There was just too much going on last year.

I've already completed three trades in 2021, all small PWE trades on TCDB. Here is the result of my first two trades of 2021.

The honor of being my first trading partner of the year goes to TCDB member hittinaway. He sent me a nice 1980 McCovey for my ASG MVP collection and a Legendary Cuts Luis Aparicio for my ROY collection, along with set help for my Xponential 2 set.

He also sent me some Cubbies, including my first Tony Campana, who was only with the Cubs for a short time right before I started back into collecting.

This Bronson Kaufusi was a bonus he threw in. I thought I had it, but it turns out it didn't. I had two autographs of the card without the base.

My second completed trade of 2021 was a small four-card swap with 49ants. The first card here is former BYU pitcher Ryan Jensen, serial-numbered to 131. 

I don't know how much trading will happen this year. I feel like my trade boxes are dwindling a little and I can't find/afford new cards to break to replenish them. I don't know how many trade matches I'll be able to generate, but I'm always open to trading. If you don't see a pin on your city, let's fix that in 2021!