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Tampa Bay connected to 2016 NFL Hall of Famers

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Brett Favre will be the center of attention as the NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony approaches on Saturday. While he is one of eight legends to now have a permanent place in Canton, Ohio, he dominates the attention leading up to the event as no one can.

Bucs fans are all too familiar with him since the Packers and Bucs were in the same division for several years. Favre was 16-8 in his 24 meetings with Tampa Bay.

Some of this year’s inductees have a strong Tampa Bay connection. They may have made their true mark with other teams, these men are known for their time in west central Florida.

Ron Wolf was the first general manager of the Bucs from 1976-78. After taking over the Packers operations, one of his very first moves was to trade for Favre.

The results speak for themselves. Favre has often spoke of his gratitude for what Wolf did for his career.

Another inductee is Ed DeBartolo, Jr., who had an incredible 24-year run as owner of the San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco won five Super Bowls during his time as owner.

He and his family-owned development conglomerate provided him the necessary resources to purchase the team in the late 1970s. While the company was officially based in Youngstown, Ohio, numerous malls and other developments were conceived and carried out from the corporate base in Tampa.

Tony Dungy continues to be a key contributor to the Tampa Bay community and around Florida. Under his leadership the Bucs returned to relevance, building them into a Super-Bowl quality team, but unable to take that long step.

After being fired following the 2001 season, he took over the Indianapolis Colts in 2003. As the schedule would have it, Dungy’s fifth game as Colts’ coach was a Monday Night game in Tampa.

It was October 6, 2003 when Dungy and another 2016 Hall of Famer would conspire to leave the Buccaneers with one of the most bitter defeats in their history. When taking the Bucs history into account, that is saying something.

Marvin Harrison was a graceful, but deadly, wide receiver and a favorite target for quarterback Peyton Manning. With 5:09 left in the game, the defending Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers led 35-14.

Harrison, Manning and a recovered onside kick helped the Colts as they miraculously tied the game, then win it overtime when kick Mike Vanderjagt was given a chance to re-kick an overtime field goal miss after the Bucs were penalized for “leaping.”

After 13 years, that still stings.

Also joining the Hall of Fame on Saturday is Kevin Greene, Orlando Pace, Dick Stanfel and Kenny “Snake” Stabler.

 

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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