The Tampa Bay Buccaneers do not exactly have a wing of their own full of busts in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This year, defensive lineman Warren Sapp will be only the second player in franchise history that played the bulk of his career with the team inducted into the hall as he will join another defensive lineman in Leroy Selmon. Linebacker Derrick Brooks and safety John Lynch may very well find their likenesses in Canton, Ohio one day as well.
It would be foolish to say that anyone who played for the Bucs before these gentlemen came to town in the mid 1990’s deserves hall of fame consideration. So this is more about what Tampa Bay player would be at the top of the list for a hall of very good. Here is a vote for tight end Jimmie Giles.
Giles came to Tampa in 1978 after being drafted by the Houston Oilers out of Alcorn State in 1977. He was fortunate enough not to be a part of a Buccaneers losing streak which began in their inaugural season of 1976 and lasted almost two years and 26 games. When Giles arrived, the Bucs had drafted a quarterback out of Grambling State by the name of Doug Williams. Together, Williams and Giles would help turn things around quicker than anyone could have imagined.
After another losing season in 1978, Tampa Bay came out of nowhere to finish 10-6 in 1979 and win the NFC Central division. It was only the second time since 1968 that anyone other than the Minnesota Vikings had won the division. During that historic worst to first season, Giles caught 40 passes for 579 yards and 7 touchdowns. He scored what turned out to be the game winning touchdown in the Bucs first ever playoff victory against the Philadelphia Eagles. Tampa Bay fell just short of reaching the Super Bowl as they were defeated in the NFC championship game by the Los Angeles Rams, 9-0.
Two years later, Giles had established himself as a Pro Bowl tight end. In 1981, the Bucs made their second trip in three years to the playoffs and Giles was elected to the NFC squad for the first time. That season, he caught 45 passes for 786 yards and 6 touchdowns. Giles would go on to make four more Pro Bowl appearances from 1981 to 1986. He even made it in 1983 when Williams sat out the season and the Bucs went back to their old losing ways finishing 2-14.
After seven years with Tampa Bay, Giles was traded to the Detroit Lions during the 1986 season. A year later, he was traded to the Eagles and finished his 13 year career with them in 1989. But it is the years with the Bucs that Giles is remembered for.
Jimmie Giles may not be a hall of famer, but he helped Tampa Bay earn its first measure of success on the field and earned the respect of teammates and opponents as one of the best tight ends of his time.