It was certainly a special time in Tampa Bay, as coach Tony Dungy and his players led the Bucs out of the “losing wilderness” of 14 straight losing seasons in the late 1990’s and into a playoff and Superbowl contender. And, two of the players that helped that turnaround happen were bruising fullback Mike Alstott and lightning quick little running back Warrick Dunn.
They were the Buccaneers version of “Thunder and Lightning” in the backfield for five seasons (1997-’01) and would often bring Raymond James Stadium to it’s feet with their impressive runs.
On Wednesday, the popular NFL Network show “Good Morning Football” not only had their version of “lightning” in former Saints running back Reggie Bush, who was fill in guest hosting, but also Hall of Fame “thunder” type back in Jerome Bettis, as a guest.
And, then the conversation turned to these types of running styles and some of the show’s favorites. And while they included Hall of Famers Earl Campbell and Barry Sanders, Alstott and Dunn were prominently discussed:
Earl Campbell or Barry Sanders? Alstott or Dunn? Spiderman or The Hulk?
— GMFB (@gmfb) April 10, 2018
Of course Bettis and Alstott were similar in stature and running style and even contemporaries playing in the same time frame in their careers. Alstott (shown above being inducted in the Bucs “Ring of Honor” in 2015) was a six time Pro Bowler. And, he is still the Bucs all time leader in rushing touchdowns with 58 in his 12 year career. The “A-Train” also is the answer to the all time trivia question: “Who scored the Bucs first touchdown in their first and only Superbowl appearance?”
As for Dunn, he had two 1,000 yard rushing seasons in his first stint in Tampa Bay, including 2000, when he had a combined 1,500+ rushing and receiving yard season. Dunn went on to play six more years (2002-’07) with the Falcons and have three more 1,000 rush seasons. That included his 1,416 yards rushing in 2005, when Atlanta won two playoff games and played in the NFC Title Game.
Dunn, eventually signed back with the Buccaneers as a free agent in 2008 and played his final NFL season with the Bucs.
Those two are both strong community guys in the Tampa Bay area and in Dunn’s case back in Atlanta, and are revered by fans of both of franchises. However, they were synonymous with Buccaneers and their rise to an eventual Superbowl win in 2002.
It definitely was good on an April Wednesday, for Bucs fans to see those highlights pop up and remind them of what perennial winning football used to be in Tampa Bay.
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