8. Running Back James Wilder: Played for the Buccaneers from 1981 to 1989. The finest and most productive running back in team history, Wilder is the franchise leader in rushing yards and receptions. Wilder made the Pro Bowl in 1984 after one of the finest seasons for a running back in NFL history.
Why Is Wilder No. 8?
Wilder played nine seasons in Tampa Bay before finishing his career with brief stints in Detroit and Washington. A second-round pick in '81, Wilder shared the load as a rookie before becoming the lead ballcarrier in his second season. In 1984, Wilder set an NFL record with 492 rushes/receptions and was an All-Pro that year. He remains arguably the best offensive weapon the Bucs have ever had, and holds numerous team records.
Wilder's Legacy With The Buccaneers:
Wilder, who was a true workhorse back during his prime, was an excellent dual threat. Wilder could pound the rock with the best of them and he was great receiver out of the backfield. He once carried the ball 43 times in one game and had 407 carries during the '84 season (both of those were once NFL records). That year, Wilder rushed for 1,544 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also fell just 16 yards short of the NFL record for total yards from scrimmage that season.
For a few seasons Wilder was basically the entire Buccaneers offense. Because of that, however, Wilder started to wear down quickly after his great '84 and '85 seasons. He is the Buccaneers leader in rushing yards and receptions, and he is second in total touchdowns.
During his nine seasons in Tampa Bay, Wilder amassed 5,957 rushing yards on 1,575 carries (3.8 YPC) with 37 touchdowns. He also had 430 catches for 3,492 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. On just numbers alone, Wilder is easily one of the best Buccaneers in team history. And the case could be made that Wilder is the best offensive player Tampa Bay has ever had.
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