A Blast Into The Past: Simeon Rice
Going back into the Buccaneers time machine again, I wanted to look into one of the most-feared pass rushers the Buccaneers had in their history. The “man-beast” aka Simeon Rice was born on February 24, 1974, in Chicago, IL. Rice was the second born of five children. He attended Mt. Carmel High School, on Chicago’s infamous South Side, Ironically Rice’s high school is the same as former Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb as well as former NBA champion Antoine Walker.
Rice started his young career at Mt. Carmel, playing at running back and during this time, his coach decided to have him play, both tight end and defensive end prior to his junior season. Rice resented the idea. Prior to his last year in high school, his head coach told him that he was built to play on defense. Funny enough in his senior season, his first game he faced the Joliet Catholic School and their star running back, Buccaneers’ ring of honor member, Mike Alstott.
He went on to attend the University of Illinois, where he played all four years and earned two First-team All-Americans (1994, 1995). Rice was tempted by some of his coaches to leave school and to enter the NFL draft early, and ESPN’s Mel Kiper projecting him to be a top pick in the 1995 NFL Draft, he decided to play his senior season. For that vigorous work and staying that last season, he was drafted in the 1996 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals with the 3rd overall pick and ended up winning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Rice stayed all four years of his rookie contract and ended up becoming a free agent after his fourth season. He then signed a five-year deal with the Buccaneers that was worth more than $30 million. He ended becoming one of the most important free agent signings since Hardy Nickerson.
His second season with the Bucs proved to be his most important after the firing of head coach Tony Dungy. The Bucs made a, first in the history of the NFL, blockbuster deal with the Oakland Raiders to acquire head coach Jon Gruden for two 1st round and two 2nd round draft picks. Even though it was a hefty price to pay, the Bucs made the playoffs that season and with Rice leading the way with 15.5 sacks, including 11 sacks in a 5-game span, he helped the Buccaneers reached their first ever Super Bowl beating Gruden’s former team the Raiders. The team’s first ever championship. After being here for five seasons, he was released and picked up by the Denver Broncos in 2007. He was then released and signed by the Indianapolis Colts. He finished his pro career with the Colts and then retired.
Per NFL.com he finished with 475 tackles and 122 sacks and should find himself in the Hall of Fame in the near future.