Climbing Tampa Bay’s Mount Rushmore

by Gary Shelton on January 27, 2022

in general

Brooks was better for longer./JEFFREY S. KING

Thursday, 4 a.m.

Four seasons in a year. Four suits in a deck. Four leaves on a lucky clover.

Fours tell a lot of things. About band members. About Horsemen. About directions on a compass

About greatness.

In sports, they call it the "Mount Rushmore" factor. We can usually tell the best player in the history of a sport (Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Muhammad Ali), maybe the top two.

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But four? Like the college football playoffs, that's where the arguing begins.

So look at Tampa Bay.

Who defines greatness the best?

Tampa Bay Bucs

  1. Derrick Brooks
  2. Lee Roy Selmon
  3. Warren Sapp
  4. Tom Brady

We would all be a little more comfortable if Brady had another season or two in Tampa Bay. But in his two seasons, he has 24 wins and a lot of team records already. Perhaps his book isn't closed yet, but already, he's been great enough to pass John Lynch and Ronde Barber on the list. You can argue if you like.

Tampa Bay Lightning

  1. Martin St. Louis
  2. Steven Stamkos
  3. Andrei Vasilevskiy
  4. Nikita Kucherov

The Bolts are building quite a list of contenders. If you go with these four, you're leaving out Victor Hedman, Brayden Point and Brad Richards. Hedman still has time to squeeze onto the mountaintop.

Tampa Bay Rays

  1. Evan Longoria
  2. Carl Crawford
  3. David Price
  4. Ben Zobrist

This may be the list that changes the most over the next five years with Wander Franco and Randy Arozarena coming hard. As it is, others considered included Kevin Kiermaier, Carlos Pena and James Shields.

USF Bulls

  1. Jason Pierre-Paul
  2. Quinton Flowers
  3. Andre Hall
  4. J.R. Reed

By now, shouldn't there be more players to consider. Marquel Blackwell and Kawika Mitchell should be mentioned.

FSU Seminoles

  1. Derrick Brooks
  2. Deion Sanders
  3. Charlie Ward
  4. Walter Jones

The Seminoles have had great players, including Heisman Trophy winners Jameis Winston and Chris Weinke. There were also Warrick Dunn, Peter Boulware and Peter Warwick.

Florida Gators

  1. Tim Tebow
  2. Danny Wuerffel
  3. Steve Spurrier
  4. Emmitt Smith

It has become fashionable to think of Tebow as something other than a great athlete. But in college football, he finished in the top five of the Heisman Trophy voting three times. He won it once and won two national titles. Also impressive were Jack Youngbood and Wilber Marshall.

Tampa Bay Coaches

  1. Jon Cooper
  2. Tony Dungy
  3. Kevin Cash
  4. Joe Maddon

Cooper's two titles outweigh any other resume of any coach in history. Dungy, a Hall of Famer, gets credit for his seasons of making the playoffs. You also have to consider Jon Gruden, Bruce Arians and John Tortorella.

Tampa Bay Team Owners

  1. Jeff Vinik
  2. The Glazer Family
  3. Stu Sternberg
  4. Bill Davidson

Vinik and the Glazers have won two championships each. Davidson won one. Sternberg gets points for his degree of difficulty. Frankly, there are no other owners who deserve to be remembered.

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