2002 Champion Buccaneers Send Strong Message to 2020 Squad

Dexter Jackson

Getty Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson hoists the Lombardi Trophy after the Buccaneers beat the then-Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.

The night before a Super Bowl LV showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers received some extra motivation from their Super Bowl-winning predecessors.

Members of the 2002 Super Bowl champion Bucs squad encouraged this season’s team in a video posted by the Bucs organization on Saturday night — leading off with Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

“No one in this room — players, coaches, support staff — is satisfied with just getting there. It’s all about bringing home that hardware, and I know we can do it,” Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks said.

Sapp and Brooks powered a staunch Bucs defense in 2002 that never allowed more than 26 points in a game all season. The Bucs went 12-4, winning the NFC South and beating the Philadelphia Eagles on the road 15-10 to win the NFC championship before downing the then-Oakland Raiders 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Bucs players from 2002 urging on the 2020 team included Booger McFarland, Ronde Barber, Martin Gramatica, Brad Johnson, Shelton Quarles, Michael Pittman Sr., Mike Alstott, Dexter Jackson,  and Joe Jurevicius. Former defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin also spoke.

“There’s three sayings we used to have. Play hard, play fast, and play together,” said Kiffin.

Tips to Hoist Lombardi Trophy

Kiffin’s expounding indirectly gave current Bucs wide receiver Scotty Miller a tip for making good on his claim to be faster than speedy Kansas City Chiefs’ wideout Tyreek Hill.

“Whatever you run that 40-yard dash in, run a little bit faster today,” Kiffin said.

The Bucs secondary will need to heed that against a dynamic Chiefs offense led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first game with the Bucs behind Hill’s 203-yard first quarter in November — the last time the Bucs lost a game. Jackson, a safety on the 2002 Bucs and Super Bowl MVP, hopes to see payback.

“Let’s go out and kick the Chiefs in the behind and bring it back home for the city of Tampa, ” Jackson said.

Barber, a potential Hall of Famer who starred in the defensive backfield with Jackson, told the current Bucs that they “have an opportunity to be a legend” playing in the Super Bowl.

“There’s only one way to be legendary and that’s by doing legendary things. So I expect you guys to go out and capture your moment,” Barber said.

Jackson and Barber’s defensive back teammate, John Lynch, became the newest member of the Hall of Fame on Saturday when the NFL announced its 2021 class. Lynch ironically concluded his career in New England, playing with Bucs quarterback Tom Brady.

The Moment

Brady’s 2002 predecessor, Johnson, told the 2020 Bucs,  “It’s about now, this year, this team, this moment. This Super Bowl is yours. It’s yours for the rest of your life.”

Jurevicius, who caught passes from Johnson, concurred.

“Childhood dreams not only for you but for your families for your kids,” he said. “It is life-changing. To do it in a city like Tampa is great.”

This year’s Bucs will be the first team in NFL history to play the Super Bowl in its home stadium. The cannons won’t fire during the game from the team’s famed pirate ship though because the league wants to keep the Super Bowl a neutral site game.

Tampa won three-straight on the road in the 2020 NFC Playoffs to reach the Super Bowl. The Bucs have a seven-game winning streak going into Sunday’s game.

“Finish what you started,” said Alstott, a star fullback for the 2002 team.  “Do your job. Dominate your man. If you do that you’ll be on the ultimate stage in sports.”

Alstott bowled over opposing defenses in his career with the Bucs. Running backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II will look to slash through the Chiefs defense on Sunday after solid 2020 seasons performances for the Bucs.

McFarland, a defensive tackle for the 2002 team, doesn’t want the 2020 squad to forget the experience, either.

“Take a moment, enjoy it. Soak it all in,” said McFarland, now an ESPN analyst.  “Play hard but more importantly have fun. Best times of your life. Enjoy it.”

“Us old Bucs are proud of you guys,” said Pittman Sr., a running back for the 2002 squad. “Let’s do this.”

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