Remembering Jimmie Giles

TAMPA, Fla. -- I’m getting ready to head out to One Buccaneer Place for the news conference to formally announce Jimmie Giles into the team’s Ring of Honor.

The Bucs did a first-class job of making the announcement of John McKay last year and Lee Roy Selmon the year before that. I’m sure they’ll do right by Giles, but I’m more curious to see this announcement than I was the first two.

That’s largely because I knew just about everything about Selmon and McKay. Selmon was Tampa Bay’s first draft pick, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a staple in the community and I sometimes eat at his restaurants. McKay was Tampa Bay’s colorful first coach and was famous before that as an outstanding college coach at Southern California. He stayed in Tampa Bay after he was done coaching and sometimes stopped by to watch practice back in the mid-1990s when his son, Rich, was general manager and I was covering the Bucs on a daily basis.

But Giles is a little different. I don’t know nearly as much about him. I remember him a little as a player, but I arrived in the Tampa Bay area for college just as Giles was wrapping up his time with the Bucs. Growing up in Pennsylvania, not many Tampa Bay games were televised locally unless the Bucs happened to be playing the Giants, Eagles or Jets.

Giles also spent time with the Oilers, Lions and Eagles, but the best part of his career came with Tampa Bay. He was with the Bucs from 1978 until 1986 and made four Pro Bowls during that time. He was part of the 1979 team that made an unlikely run to the NFC Championship Game.

In 13 NFL seasons, Giles had 350 catches for 5,084 yards and 41 touchdowns. Those aren’t huge numbers for a tight end. But you have to remember Giles was playing in an era when tight ends primarily were used as blockers. Giles did have some big moments as a receiver and none was bigger than Oct. 20, 1985, against the Miami Dolphins. In that game, Giles caught four touchdown passes.

Buccaneers teammate Gerald Carter once was quoted as saying that Giles could have been "one of the best all-time tight ends, if they'd used him more".

But the Bucs used Giles enough that he was one of their best players from an early history that wasn’t always pretty. He did enough to earn a spot in the Ring of Honor and a lasting legacy.

I’ll be back later with more on Giles.