When John Lynch came to the Buccaneers as a rookie in 1993 his first order of business was to find a successful player with a professional routine he could adopt as part of his own.
Lynch quickly chose left tackle Paul Gruber, who will be announced as the fourth member of Tampa Bay's Ring of Honor during a ceremony today at One Buc Place.
"I appreciate John saying that,'' Gruber said Tuesday from his Denver-area home. "He's a guy that as a young player came in and really worked hard, as well, and earned everything he's accomplished.
"As for me, I just really enjoyed playing football and playing left tackle and having the opportunity to go out and compete and line up against some of the best players in the game at the time. So to be included with the other guys that are already in the Ring of Honor, it's definitely the biggest honor I've had. The guys that are there now, they're all guys that I looked up to while I was playing.''
Gruber, 47, joins late defensive end Lee Roy Selmon, late Bucs coach John McKay and tight end Jimmie Giles in the team's Ring of Honor, which was established in 2009.
Gruber was the team's first-round draft pick (fourth overall) out of Wisconsin in the 1988 draft and spent his entire 12-year career in Tampa, starting every one of the 183 games he played.
Though he was named All Pro three times, Gruber played the majority of his career in relative anonymity while working for a Bucs team that produced just two winning seasons – in 1997 and 1999 – during his career.
"He was a guy that really didn't like being in the limelight very much, but it's good now that he's finally going to be in the limelight,'' Lynch said. "He really deserves this.
"Even though the team was struggling, was going through some difficult times, Groobs was one of those guys who always just kept doing his job and doing what he needed to do to get ready for Sundays.''
Gruber now spends his time enjoying the outdoors with his family and tracking business and real-estate investments, but is excited to return to Tampa for an honor he cherishes.
"I just tried to do my best each time I went out there,'' Gruber said. "It was a challenge and I guess I was probably just more focused on the game than I was the accolades at the time, but it served me well.''