American Football Database
1996 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season
Head Coach Tony Dungy
Home Field Houlihan's Stadium
Record 6-10
Place 5th NFC Central
Playoff Finish did not qualify
Pro Bowlers
Team MVP MLB Hardy Nickerson
Previous season Next season
1995 1997

The 1996 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season began with the team trying to improve on an 7-9 season. It was the first season for Tony Dungy as the team's head coach who had no previous experience as a head coach. Prior to the season it was announced that the team would remain in Tampa Bay and would have a new stadium for the 1998 season. Also prior to the season the team drafted Mike Alstott, who became one of the most popular players in the teams history, and Donnie Abraham.

The offense struggled all season and was not helped by an ill-advised holdout from running back Errict Rhett, who next year would barely carry the ball with new running backs added.

The 1996 Buccaneers would be remembered as the team that turned it all around for the franchise. While a lot of fans feel it wasn't until the 1997 team with its new pewter based uniforms, most knowledgeable fans credit the changes that took place in 1996 for setting the stage for the Buccaneers rise to power.

It did not happen all at once. Despite being a 7-7 team at one point at the end of 1995, the 1996 team went 0-5 before getting their first win over Tony Dungy's former team the Minnesota Vikings. The 24-13 win over Minnesota started another streak few noted at the time, and some credit as the first sign of the turn-around, which is four games in a row that the Bucs Defense held opponents to 13 points or less. Despite this, game 10 had the Oakland Raiders coming into Tampa facing a Bucs team that is 1-8. A larger number of turn-around theorists mark this game, a 20-17 overtime win as the sign of change for things to come. Others will point out that Raider kicker Ford missed a short 27 yard field goal with regulation about to expire that would have ended the game but instead forced overtime.

Week 11 had the Bucs on the west coast, where they never win. Playing at San Diego, a road game, and vs the AFC, the Bucs spotted the Chargers a 14-0 lead. Instead of folding, the Dungy led Bucs fought back, and won on the road, on the west coast 25-17. They would win two of the next three, and five of the last seven games including an emotional win over the Chicago Bears 34-19 in which the Bucs did everything right, including returning a punt for a touchdown. It was the first time since the end of the 1979 season that Bucs and Bucs fans could not wait for the next year.

Rule changes earlier in the decade brought about a salary cap, and a minimum spending cap forced Bucs to spend more on players. With the new ownership, tax disclosures showed the old Culverhouse regime was running a 'for-profit' business in which players who were getting good were released before their contracts could get big, all the while claiming poor and trying to get some home games played in Orlando, Florida.

Many fans took encouragement from the team winning five of the last seven games and the emergence of Warren Sapp who had nine sacks on the season, Derrick Brooks, and Mike Alstott, who along with John Lynch and Hardy Nickerson were forming the core of one of the best defenses of the decade.

This also marked the final year the Buccaneers wore the orange and white uniforms.


NFL Draft

Pick Round Player Position School
12 1 Regan Upshaw Defensive End California
22 1 Marcus Jones Defensive End North Carolina
35 2 Mike Alstott Fullback Purdue
71 3 Donnie Abraham Defensive Back ETSU
96 4 Jason Odom Offensive Tackle Florida
104 4 Eric Austin Defensive Back Jackson State
140 5 Jason Maniecki Defensive Tackle Wisconsin
180 6 Nilo Silvan Wide Receiver Tennessee
221 7 Reggie Rusk Defensive Back Kentucky



1996 Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff

Front Office

Head Coaches

Offensive Coaches


Defensive Coaches

Special Teams Coaches

  • Special Teams – Joe Marciano

Strength and Conditioning

  • Strength and Conditioning – Mark Asanovich
  • Strength and Conditioning Assistant – Aaron Komarek


Regular season


Regular season
Week Date Opponent Result Kickoff[a] Game site TV Attendance Record
1 September 1, 1996 Green Bay Packers L 34-3 4:00 Houlihan's Stadium Fox 54,102* 0-1
2 September 8, 1996 at Detroit Lions L 21-6 1:00 Pontiac Silverdome Fox 54,229 0-2
3 September 15, 1996 at Denver Broncos L 27-23 8:00 Mile High Stadium TNT 71,535 0-3
4 September 22, 1996 Seattle Seahawks L 17-13 4:15 Houlihan's Stadium NBC 30,212* 0-4
5 September 29, 1996 Detroit Lions L 27-0 1:00 Houlihan's Stadium Fox 34,961* 0-5
6 Bye
7 October 6, 1996 Minnesota Vikings W 24-13 1:00 Houlihan's Stadium Fox 32,175* 1-5
8 October 13, 1996 at Arizona Cardinals L 13-9 4:05 Sun Devil Stadium Fox 27,738 1-6
9 October 28, 1996 at Green Bay Packers L 13-7 1:00 Lambeau Field Fox 60,627 1-7
10 November 3, 1996 at Chicago Bears L 13-10 1:00 Soldier Field Fox 58,727 1-8
11 November 10, 1996 Oakland Raiders W 20-17 1:00 Houlihan's Stadium NBC 45,392* 2-8
12 November 17, 1996 at San Diego Chargers W 25-17 4:00 Jack Murphy Stadium Fox 57,526 3-8
13 November 24, 1996 New Orleans Saints W 13-7 1:00 Houlihan's Stadium Fox 40,203* 4-8
14 December 1, 1996 at Carolina Panthers L 24-0 1:00 Ericsson Stadium Fox 57,623 4-9
15 December 8, 1996 Washington Redskins W 24-10 1:00 Houlihan's Stadium Fox 44,723* 5-9
16 December 15, 1996 at Minnesota Vikings L 21-10 1:00 Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome Fox 49,302 5-10
17 December 22, 1996 Chicago Bears W 34-19 1:00 Houlihan's Stadium Fox 51,572* 6-10


a All times in North American Eastern Time. (UTC–4 and UTC–5 during Standard Time)
  • = blacked out locally


NFC Central
view · talk · edit W L T PCT PF PA
Green Bay Packers 13 3 0 .813 456 210
Minnesota Vikings 9 7 0 .563 298 315
Chicago Bears 7 9 0 .438 283 305
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6 10 0 .375 221 293
Detroit Lions 5 11 0 .313 302 368


AFC East Central West East Central West NFC
Buffalo Baltimore Denver Arizona Chicago Atlanta
Indianapolis Cincinnati Kansas City Dallas Detroit Carolina
Miami Houston Oakland NY Giants Green Bay New Orleans
New England Jacksonville San Diego Philadelphia Minnesota St. Louis
NY Jets Pittsburgh Seattle Washington Tampa Bay San Francisco
1996 NFL DraftNFL PlayoffsPro BowlSuper Bowl XXXI