1996 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season

1996 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season
Head coach Tony Dungy
General manager Rich McKay
Owner Malcolm Glazer
Home field Houlihan's Stadium
Record 6–10
Division place 4th NFC Central
Playoff finish did not qualify
Pro Bowlers
AP All-Pros FB Mike Alstott, MLB Hardy Nickerson
Team MVP MLB Hardy Nickerson
Tampa Bay kicks off while visiting the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium, September 15, 1996

The 1996 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season was the team's 21st in the National Football League.

The season began with the team trying to improve on a 7–9 season in 1995. It was the first season for first-time head coach Tony Dungy.

The 1996 Buccaneers season would be a turning point for the franchise, as the team began to acquire the personnel that would lead it into its most successful era.

The 1996 season also marked the final year the Buccaneers wore their trademark orange and white uniforms.


Prior to the season the Buccaneers were still unsure if the team would remain in Tampa Bay or if it would be moved by new ownership family led by Malcolm Glazer and sons, either to Cleveland,[1][2] Los Angeles,[3][4] or the nearby city of Orlando.[5] Eventually, the team's future was determined by a local referendum, which approved funding for a new stadium for the 1998 season.

Rule changes earlier in the decade brought about a salary cap, and a minimum spending cap forced Bucs to spend more on players. With the new ownership, tax disclosures showed the old Culverhouse regime was running a "for-profit" business in which players who were getting good were released before their contracts could get big, all the while claiming poor and trying to get some home games played in Orlando.

NFL Draft

Prior to the 1996 season the team drafted fullback Mike Alstott, who became one of the most popular players in the teams history, as well as defensive back Donnie Abraham. Although Alstott would become one of the Buccaneers’ most popular players of all time, the organization did not target him in the draft: the team had originally wanted tailback Leeland McElroy, who would be taken before the Bucs drafted.

= Pro Bowler [6]
Pick Round Player Position School
121Regan UpshawDefensive EndCalifornia
221Marcus JonesDefensive EndNorth Carolina
352Mike AlstottFullbackPurdue
713Donnie AbrahamDefensive BackETSU
964Jason OdomOffensive TackleFlorida
1044Eric AustinDefensive BackJackson State
1405Jason ManieckiDefensive TackleWisconsin
1806Nilo SilvanWide ReceiverTennessee
2217Reggie RuskDefensive BackKentucky

Season Summary

Despite having been 7–7 toward the end of 1995, the 1996 team went 0–5 before getting their first win over Tony Dungy's former team, the Minnesota Vikings. The 24–13 win over Minnesota started another streak few noted at the time, in which the team held opponents to 13 points or less in four consecutive games. Despite this, the Oakland Raiders came to Tampa Bay in Week Eleven facing a 1–8 Buccaneers team. Tampa Bay defeated Oakland 20–17 in overtime, which was the first of five wins over the next seven games.

The following week, Tampa Bay traveled to the west coast, where they historically had trouble winning. Playing an interconference game at San Diego, Tampa Bay quickly found themselves down 14–0. The morning of the game, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks were in their hotel room watching ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown. Chris Berman referred to the game as the "Superchargers" versus the "Yucs"[7][8] – a derogatory nickname that had stemmed from the Bucs many years of futility. Sapp and Brooks finally took exception to the ridicule they were being subjected to. Tampa Bay would rally in the game with a 25–3 run and won by the score of 25–17. Tampa Bay would win two of the next three, including an emotional win over Chicago 34–19 in which the Bucs returned a punt for a touchdown.

Many fans took encouragement from the team going 5–2 in the final seven games, as well as the emergence of defensive tackle Warren Sapp who had nine sacks on the season, linebacker Derrick Brooks, and fullback Mike Alstott, who along with safety John Lynch and linebacker Hardy Nickerson, were forming the core of what would prove to be a dominant defense.

The offense struggled all season, and was not helped by an ill-advised holdout by running back Errict Rhett, who would have far fewer carries the following year.[9][10]



1996 Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff

Front Office

Head Coaches

Offensive Coaches


Defensive Coaches

Special Teams Coaches

  • Special Teams – Joe Marciano

Strength and Conditioning

  • Strength and Conditioning – Mark Asanovich
  • Strength and Conditioning Assistant – Aaron Komarek


Regular season


Regular season
Week Date Opponent Result Kickoff[a] Game site TV Attendance Record
1 September 1, 1996 Green Bay Packers L 3–34 4:00 Houlihan's Stadium FOX 54,102* 0–1
2 September 8, 1996 at Detroit Lions L 6–211:00 Pontiac Silverdome FOX 54,229 0–2
3 September 15, 1996 at Denver Broncos L 23–278:00 Mile High Stadium TNT 71,535 0–3
4 September 22, 1996 Seattle Seahawks L 13–17 4:15 Houlihan's Stadium NBC 30,212* 0–4
5 September 29, 1996 Detroit Lions L 0–27 1:00 Houlihan's Stadium FOX 34,961* 0–5
6 Bye
7 October 13, 1996 Minnesota Vikings W 24–13 1:00 Houlihan's Stadium FOX 32,175* 1–5
8 October 20, 1996 at Arizona Cardinals L 9–13 4:05 Sun Devil Stadium FOX 27,738 1–6
9 October 27, 1996 at Green Bay Packers L 7–13 1:00 Lambeau Field FOX 60,627 1–7
10 November 3, 1996 at Chicago Bears L 10–13 1:00 Soldier Field FOX 58,727 1–8
11 November 10, 1996 Oakland Raiders W 20–17 OT 1:00 Houlihan's Stadium NBC 45,392* 2–8
12 November 17, 1996 at San Diego Chargers W 25–17 4:15 Jack Murphy Stadium FOX 57,526 3–8
13 November 24, 1996 New Orleans Saints W 13–7 1:00 Houlihan's Stadium FOX 40,203* 4–8
14 December 1, 1996 at Carolina Panthers L 0–24 1:00 Ericsson Stadium FOX 57,623 4–9
15 December 8, 1996 Washington Redskins W 10–24 1:00 Houlihan's Stadium FOX 44,723* 5–9
16 December 15, 1996 at Minnesota Vikings L 10–21 1:00 Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome FOX 49,302 5–10
17 December 22, 1996 Chicago Bears W 34–19 1:00 Houlihan's Stadium FOX 51,572* 6–10


a All times in North American Eastern Time. (UTC–4 and UTC–5 during Standard Time)


NFC Central
(1) Green Bay Packers 13 3 0 .813 456 210 W5
(6) Minnesota Vikings 9 7 0 .563 298 315 L1
Chicago Bears 7 9 0 .438 283 305 L1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6 10 0 .375 221 293 W1
Detroit Lions 5 11 0 .313 302 368 L5


  1. "NFL teams shift into move groove: Owners to vote Feb. 8–9 on Browns"; in The Washington Times; January 19, 1996; p.
  2. “Pro Football: Vote Is Delayed on Browns’ Relocation”; in New York Times; January 18, 1996
  3. "NFL's Games of Musical Chairs Making Football Fans Fell Dizzy"; in Ocala Star-Banner, July 1, 1995; p. 1D
  4. "NFL Owners Spared Tough Agenda Today"; in Charlotte Observer; May 21, 1996
  5. "No. 1 NFL Rule on Relocation Is That There Are No Rules"; in St. Louis Post-Dispatch; November 12, 1995; p. 03F
  6. Players are identified as a Pro Bowler if they were selected for the Pro-Bowl at any time in their career.
  7. Bianchi, Mike (2004-03-22). "Sapp Earned Tampa Fans' Shrugs". Daily Press. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  8. "Relentless: the Road to Canton – Warren Sapp": NFL Network
  9. The bulk of Tampa Bay's carries in 1997 would be handled by Mike Alstott and Warrick Dunn.
  10. Pro Football Reference.com: Errict Rhett Rhett would have only 31 carries for 96 yards for Tampa in 1997.
  11. 2009 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Media Guide. pp. 44–46. Retrieved 2009-11-26.
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