Whose jersey would you like to purchase?

by Gary Shelton on May 18, 2021

in general

Brady means a lot to Bucs./(Kyle Zedaker/Tampa Bay Buccaneers via AP)

In hindsight, the year 2003 was a good one to buy jerseys for a Tampa Bay Sport fan.

The Bucs had just won a Super Bowl in February, and they were laden with stars. There was Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp, John Lynch and Ronde Barber, Keyshawn Johnson and Brad Johnson. The Bolts, still a year away from winning the Stanley Cup, had Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards and Dan Boyle, Nikolai Khabibulin and Dave Andreycuck. The Rays had Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli. The town seemed young, promising.

Then again, the 2008 season was a good one, too.


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The Bucs had Brooks and (Warrick Dunn). They had Jeff Garcia and Barber. The Rays went to the World Series at the start of the careers of David Price ad Evan Longoria. They had Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist. The Bolts had Lecavalier and St. Louis and Steven Stamkos.

But there was nothing like this year.

There are stars out at night. If you have the interest, and the money, you can spend each day of a month in a different jersey number. If coaches/managers had jerseys, you could go a month and a half.

So who has the most coveted number?

Just a guess, but ...

  1. Tom Brady, Bucs (12): Brady did more for the Bucs last year than any one single player has ever done. No, he didn't win the Super Bowl by himself, but without him, the Bucs don't get close. Granted, most of his great days still are as a Patriot, but there is a reason you see so many Number 12s around.

2. Nikita Kucherov, Lightning (86): Sunday was one indication of how much he means to the Bolts. The entire regular season was another. Many of the shortcomings the Lighting had during the season -- the lack of energy, the lack of scoring pop -- were largely because of Kucherov's absence.

3. Mike Evans, Bucs (13): Few athletes can match Evans' performance over the long haul. His numbers may be short of the Hall of Fame, but he's a cinch for the Ring of Honor.

4. Randy Arozarana, Rays (56): Few athletes made his kind of impression on his first post-season. Arozarena continues to be one of the biggest sticks in the Rays' lineup.

5. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning (88): He may win his second Vezina this year. He gives the Bolts a chance almost every time out.

6. Victor Hedman, Lightning (77): As many moves as the Bolts have made to shore up their defense, Hedman is still the stopper around here. If the Bolts are going to win their current series against the Panthers, he will be essential.

7. Lavonte David, Bucs (54): By the end of the season, Devin White had surpassed David on the defense. But when you consider the whole resume, and the leadership, then David gets the nod.

8. Devin White, Bucs (45): It was his play during the post-season that made this look like a big-boy defense.

9. Tyler Glasnow, Rays: Even if Blake Snell wasn't traded, and if Charlie Morton hadn't left, Glasnow would still be the ace of this year's Rays' staff. He's tall, he's quirky, and he's talented.

10. Steven Stamkos, Lightning (91): Injuries have ebbed away some of his skills. These days, Stamkos is more Dave Andreychuk than Martin St. Louis. But he can still drive it on the power play.

11. Shaq Barrett, Bucs (58): Does Patrick Mahomes go to sleep at night without images of Barrett in his head? Barrett has become a force for the Bucs' pass rush.

12. Brayden Point, Lightning (21): "Money" is the way Stamkos describes the puck on Point's stick. If Hedman wasn't the playoff MVP for the Bolts last year, Point would have been.

13. Chris Godwin, Bucs (14): Godwin seems to make a lot of big catches for the Bucs. Ask Brady how valuable he is.

14. Austin Meadows, Rays (17): No, he isn't a finished product. But Meadows still carries hope on his bat.

15. Antonio Winfield, Bucs (31): Not since Lynch have the Bucs had a safety worth caring about. Winfield should be good for a long time.

16. Mike Brosseau, Rays (43): His hits all seem to be huge ones. Just ask Aroldis Chapman.

17. Jason Pierre-Paul, Bucs (90): Pierre-Paul, the Bucs' only Pro Bowler last year, can swap tales of overcoming injuries with anyone. He can still play, too.

18. Kevin Kiermaier, Rays (39): He doesn't hit nearly enough for a major league outfielder, but he fields like he invented it. If you're a one-trick pony, it better be a heck of a trick. Kiermaier has one.

19. Pat Maroon, Lightning (14): Maroon is the ultimate dirty-work hockey player. And his teams win.

20. Rob Gronkowski, Bucs (87): He isn't the player he was in his prime, but he makes big plays, and his goofy personality will leave you smiling.

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