Who’s next in the Buccaneers Ring of Honor?
Another year, another Ring of Honor Inductee. Every year a new Buccaneer great joins the list of elite names forever immortalized in Buccaneers history. With names like Lee Roy Selmon, John Lynch, and Derrick Brooks already in the Ring of Honor, there are many names swirling around about who should be inducted next.
We’ve had names such as Ronde Barber, Simeon Rice, Hardy Nickerson, and Donnie Abraham floating around. While many of those names would be deserving, I think there is one man that is LONG overdue to etch his name in Bucs history.
This man ranks first in rushing attempts, yards, and receptions.
His name is James Wilder.
James Wilder. was the 2nd round pick out of the University of Missouri in 1981. Coming in at 6 feet 3 and weighing 225 pounds, Wilder had menacing size and toughness out of the gate. After sharing the backfield with Jerry Eckwood as a rookie, he would grab the starting job for good next season when Eckwood was released. It was the 1984 season where Wilder would enter Bucs history. In his lone Pro Bowl season he got 407 carries, which led the league, for 1,544 and 13 rushing touchdowns. He also had 43 carries in a single game, which was a record back then. That same year he would also snag 85 catches for 685 yards, bringing his total scrimmage to 2,229, which was 16 yards shy of the NFL record for most combined rushing and receiving yards in a single season. In the final game of the 1984 season against the New York Jets, Buccaneers coach John McKay let the Jets quickly score in an attempt to have Wilder break the record with about a minute remaining in the game.
Wilder is the most balanced back in Buccaneers history to this day. Wilder was a punishing back, his toughness was incredible. New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who is often considered the most dominant player in NFL history, stated that Wilder was one of the toughest backs he’d ever matched up against. Wilder’s toughness, durability, and heart made him truly one of a kind. It’s time for #32 to come home to the Ring of Honor where he belongs.
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