In 2002, the Tampa Bay Bucs had a new young coach (Jon Gruden) and were coming off several years of strong showings. But they hadn’t quite gotten past “the hump” into the elite realm of the NFL, mainly because of untimely offensive struggles. While the defense generally held its own, the offense could sputter sometimes. In fact, you could put an NFL bet on it.
The statistics were clear: The defense had held opponents to fewer than 20 points in 10 games in 2001, yet went 9-7. The year before, in 2000? The Bucs did it 11 times in a 10-6 playoff season. So in two prior playoff seasons, on 21 occasions, the franchise basically stymied the competition … yet didn’t win a playoff game.
The dreaded Philadelphia Eagles always seemed to stand in the way. The Bucs couldn’t stop them and they couldn’t score on them … until the 2002 playoffs, when they did both.
It was a special season Tampa Bay fans still talk about. And some Bucs fans wonder if what they’re seeing this year might rival what was seen in 2002. The NFL football lines prove fans are curious.
So it begs the question: Where did those big-time 2002 contributors go? Let’s take a look:
The Big Contributors
Derrick Brooks, LB — The NFL Hall of Famer has been a part of the Super Bowl Host Committee for this next month’s Super Bowl in Tampa. He has also served as a football analyst for ESPN and Sirius NFL Radio, as well as being part-owner of the now-defunct Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League. He also has been active with the NFL Players Association. He’s still a pillar of the Tampa Bay community.
Warren Sapp, DL — The colorful NFL Hall of Famer has had an up-and-down journey since leaving football after the 2007 season. He has run into financial problems (bankruptcy, ill-timed investments) and some legal issues, but also has been a successful broadcaster and TV personality in general. He remains one of the biggest “faces” of that 2002 Bucs team, as well as the entire era.
Brad Johnson, QB — Johnson, who was a Pro Bowler in the 2002 season (his second career trip), lives in Athens, Ga., and has a son (Max) who plays quarterback for LSU. In fact, his son led the Tigers to win over rival Florida last month and at 6-foot-5 may have a professional football future ahead of him, too. Johnson and his wife enjoyed traveling to as many LSU games as they could this fall (thanks to the pandemic).
Mike Alstott, FB — Alstott is the head football coach at Northside Christian in the St. Petersburg area of greater Tampa Bay. He’s in his seventh season and has led the program to continued success. He also heads up the Mike Alstott Family Foundation which delivers meals to families and visits children in the hospital. He remains an outspoken community leader in the area in which he played all of his NFL football.
Dexter Jackson, DB — The Super Bowl MVP that year after his two interceptions in the big game, Jackson still has serious ties in Tampa Bay, working for a children’s crisis center — Mental Health Care, Inc. It is a non-profit organization. He and his wife have four daughters. He also has done some broadcasting since the end of his NFL career.
Other Big-Time Components
|Martin Gramatica||PK||Co-Founder of construction company|
|Shelton Quarles||LB||Bucs’ Director of Football Operations|
|John Lynch||DB||49ers’ General Manager|
|Simeon Rice||DE||CEO of a Hip Hop/R&B Label|
|Keyshawn Johnson||WR||NFL Analyst with ESPN|
|Jeff Christy||OL||Works in “home fixer-upper” business|
|Jon Gruden||Coach||Head coach of the Raiders|
|Ronde Barber||DB||Recently worked with Fox Sports|
|Mike Tomlin||Asst.||Head coach of the Steelers|
|Raheem Morris||Asst.||Interim head coach for Falcons|
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Brian McLaughlin is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of BMac and Herd’s FCS Podcast. He has written for The Sporting News, headed up the PARADE Magazine High School All American teams, covered the FCS for HERO Sports, and wrote for so many newspapers he lost count. Follow BMac on Twitter @BrianMacWriter.