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Bucs to induct Williams, Alstott into Ring of Honor

in Apolitical/Sports/Top Headlines by

Have you ever seen their eyes as they approach?

Fans walk up slowly, reverently, as if they are approaching greatness. They speak in hushed tones. They give their thanks. They talk of the moments they saw, the moments that captivated them, the moments that became memories.

There is an awe in their demeanor, as if they were in the presence of their own youth. They talk of the effort. They talk of the victories.

This is the way a fan of the Tampa Bay Bucs approaches Doug Williams.

And it is the way they approach Mike Alstott.

The Bucs announced plans to induct two of the most special, most iconic players of their history into their Ring of Honor Wednesday afternoon. Together, Williams and Alstott represent the two finest eras in the history of the franchise, the worst-to-first rush of the late ’70s and early ’80s, the building blocks to a Super Bowl in the late ’90s and early ’00s.

Williams and Alstott.

Alstott and Williams.

Together forever.

It is the first time in the seven-year history of the Ring of Honor that there have been multiple inductees. Before these two, the Bucs had inducted Hall of Famers Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks as well as coach John McKay, Jimmie Giles and Paul Gruber.

Alstott will be inducted first, on Oct. 4, during a home game against the Carolina Panthers

Williams will go in on Dec. 6 when the team plays the Atlanta Falcons.

“People say it should have happened a while ago,” Williams said. “But it’s happened. It’s right on time.”

Williams was one of the team’s first real leaders. Although his completion percentage was low by today’s standards, it was the winning that set him apart. The team had won only two games in the previous two years when he arrived, but he doubled that in his first year. After that, his team went 10-6 and started an era when they went to three playoffs in four years.

Alstott, too, was on a team that turned it around quickly. In his second year, as well, the Bucs went 10-6. Six times, his team made the post-season.

“A great day,” Alstott said. “An amazing day.”

Along the way, there were few NFL players who showed more effort than Alstott did. The fans loved him for that. He scored 71 touchdowns in his career.

The very purpose of such a ring, of course, is to touch a chord with longtime fans, to make believe that what happened then is relevant to what is happening now. Does Williams feel a connection to No. 1 draft pick Jameis Winston, also an African-American quarterback? Does Alstott feel the pain of a running corps that could barely gain anything a year ago?

From now on, their names will be on the stadium.

From now on, fathers can tell their sons that they saw them in the day.

Have you ever heard the voices of the fans? From a distance, it sounds like cheering.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit [email protected]

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