Throughout this week, we will unveil the 50 most important people to sports in Tampa Bay.
So far this week, we have unveiled:
The names you will see were all suggested by listeners to The Commish Justin Pawlowski and sent in during his show. Over this past weekend, Justin, along with his producer “The Drake” and Jim Lighthall, spent hours trying to set the official ranking.
Here are names 31-40 of Tampa Bay’s most important people to this area’s sports:
31. Mark Dominik – General Manager – Buccaneers (2009-present) – This ranking involves much more than just what Mark Dominik has done as General Manager the past few years. Dominik has been a part of the Buccaneers front office since 1995. He has had his fingerprint on so many players, it would seem he might be deserving of a much higher ranking than this. Dominik became the Buccaneers Director of Pro Personnel in 2001 and held that role during the team’s run to a Super Bowl championship and for several years after. The years after included the exodus of icons, which ultimately included the release of Derrick Brooks. As a General Manager, Dominik’s story is still yet to fully be told. He, along with the Glazers, completely gutted the team down to nothing in 2009 and started over. On paper, it would seem as though Dominik has done a good job at assembling a team, but now it comes down to winning.
32. John Lynch – player – Buccaneers (1993-2003) – Lynch became one of the most feared players in the NFL with his big hits from the safety position. He played a crucial role in the Bucs defense, while making receivers pay for coming across the middle, but also helping out in run support.
33. Bo Jackson – player – Los Angeles Raiders (1987-1990) – In the middle of one of the worst stretches for any franchise in sports history, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced an opportunity to escape the hole they had dug for themselves with the selection of Bo Jackson. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, the way they handled this situation led to trouble before it even began. The Buccaneers had flown Jackson on a private jet, which they had said was approved by the NCAA. It wasn’t, and Jackson was forced to forfeit the remainder of his school year playing baseball at Auburn. The Buccaneers also gave him an ultimatum to not play baseball anymore and focus solely on football. Jackson declined their offer, signed with the Kansas City Royals, and was then drafted by the Raiders and Al Davis (46th on our list) in the 7th round of the 1987 draft. Jackson would play just 4 seasons, but was instantly a hit and a threat for the Raiders offense.
34. Fred McGriff – player – Tampa Bay Devil Rays & others (1998-2001, 2004) – What many believed to be a Hall of Fame career, McGriff continues to wait for his number to be called. He was one of the original Devil Rays after being selected in the team’s expansion draft. McGriff returned “home” and instantly became a fan favorite, and still is to this day. This 5-time All-Star, World Champion, and home run champion in both leagues made a name for himself on the field, but still continues to help Tampa Bay grow as a sports community with each day that passes.
35. Dwight “Doc” Gooden – player – New York Mets (1984-1994) Tampa Bay Devil Rays (2000) & others – A Tampa native, Gooden began to rise to an early fame with his success at the historic Belmont Heights Little League. Gooden, his nephew Gary Sheffield, and others paved the way for baseball growth in this area. Gooden’s accomplishments have been overshadowed by mistakes off the field, but during his prime, he was as dominant a pitcher as the game has seen.
36. Vinny Lecavalier – player – Lightning (1998-present) – Lecavalier has been the definition of a Tampa Bay Lightning player for 15 years. The work he has done on the ice does not come even close to the charity work he has done off of it. Lecavalier helped the Lightning win a Stanley Cup and is still considered one of their top players and a captain today.
37. David Price – player – Tampa Bay Rays (2008-present) – On a team where pitching has been the ultimate focus since the new regime has taken over, Price has been the dominant presence on the staff. Price’s performance out of the bullpen in 2008 was a major reason the Rays found themselves playing in the World Series. Price was also the Cy Young Award winner in 2012.
38. John McKay – coach – Buccaneers (1976-1984) – McKay wasn’t just the 1st coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he led them to an NFC Championship Game after going 0-26 just a couple of seasons before to launch the franchise. While some would see an expansion team as a tremendous hurdle, McKay was enticed by it because it meant he could build “his” team from the ground up. McKay strongly pushed for a raise for then-starter Doug Williams, but Hugh Culverhouse refused to budge. One would have to wonder how successful those Buccaneers could have been had Doug Williams remained their quarterback.
39. Freddie Solomon – player – University of Tampa (1971-1974) – Solomon was part of the great UT football teams of the early 1970’s. Apparently, Solomon was also Joe Montana’s primary target against the Dallas Cowboys in the 1982 playoffs, but after he slipped, that pass went to Dwight Clark and went down in history as “The Catch.”
40. Monte Kiffin – Defensive Coordinator – Buccaneers (1996-2008) – Kiffin and Tony Dungy brought what is now known as the “Tampa 2” to Tampa in 1996. Kiffin was not Dungy’s initial choice to be defensive coordinator, but ended up becoming one of the greatest defensive coordinators in NFL history. Monte is one of the most popular people in Tampa Bay, but it is interesting to weigh his importance to Tampa Bay sports vs. other names.
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