The Buccaneers’ new uniforms incorporate tradition and heritage back to 1976.
Hey, hey, Tampa Bay! As I am sitting here on Good Friday, I’m musing about something that I see as extremely (though earthly) very good indeed. It’s been three days since the reveal of the Buccaneers new uniforms, to the elation of the fandom. In those three days, we’ve seen the reveal videos and pics posted, shared, tweeted, and retweeted repeatedly numerous Photoshopped TB12-in-the-new-unis images, and by all accounts (if you believe the Facebook polls) pewter jersey pre-orders outpace home and away jerseys combined by a significant margin. We’re ecstatic, to be sure. And for good reason.
But what is it about these new threads that we, the faithful, find so very appealing? How can a simple uniform change have such a dramatic effect? Some people are saying, “Meh, they’re just the old uniforms rehashed.” At a cursory glance, it may seem that way. In my view, it’s that the Bucs have done something with this change that’s incredibly difficult to do when trying to successfully update, and by extension energize, a football brand’s image (just ask the current Rams, Falcons, and, really, the 2014-2019 Bucs); they’ve created real motivation and excitement. They’ve ignited a fire and energy in the fans and, to a degree, even the players that haven’t been seen in a very long time. Lavonte David’s reaction to putting on his new/old uniform was inspiring. So what was the secret to this great accomplishment? They did it with integrity.
Integrity, you ask? Absolutely, and I’ll explain why; they’ve honored the history and traditions of the franchise while wrapping them in an aggressive and bold package that looks for all the world like it’s under full sail to fortune and glory.
It always takes integrity to truly honor tradition. It has to be done in a way that respects what came before. It can’t look campy or cheap, and it can’t smack of a cynical attempt to capitalize. It has to be heartfelt. We all know football is a business, but it also carries a lot of emotional weight for a lot of people. Folks know when you’re trying too hard or when you’re just phoning it in. So for a long-suffering team like the Bucs to execute a rebranding that, by its very imagery, makes the fan base feel appreciated and that their fierce loyalty and sacrifice hasn’t gone unnoticed, and to make it feel like it’s natural, honest, and not forced, is a gigantic collective-identity win. The organization and the fans become a cohesive community.
So let’s dissect the readily obvious and the less noticeable nods to this team’s past, it’s entire past, indeed, since 1976. All three uniform generations have influences and elements in these latest incarnations.
Most apparent to everyone is the return to the home and away looks of the Glorious Second Generation, albeit with updates from recent times. The current logos and wordmark have been retained because they work. The flag and pirate ship logos are clean and bold, as is the font used for the Buccaneers wordmark. The same original items from the Gen II era, although beloved, look dated by comparison. The only change made was a reversion to the prior, more pirate-y shade of blood red (some say scarlet or crimson, I prefer the darker imagery), which is an appropriate and welcome alteration. I much prefer the richer shade to the ketchup bottle hue of the Third Generation uniforms. The oversize helmet logo was also kept, even though the team says it’s “slightly” smaller to be fully visible on all available helmets. This big ol’ flag was something I never had a problem with, simply because the logo isn’t vying for space on the helmet with anything else (stripes, etc.). Still works, still good. On the Road Whites and the Blood Reds, the pirate ship appears on both shoulders with Black Pearl-like sails, which offers excellent contrast on both jerseys and a suitable amount of badassery, as does the black Buccaneers wordmark on the chest and the black sleeve stripes. Generation II’s excellent traditional numbers and pant stripes are brought in basically unchanged, but the Gen III pewter color and texture is carried over, primarily due to Nike’s fabric technology.
And speaking of pewter, let’s talk Color Rush. This uni is where things get really interesting. The all-pewter look is strikingly new, yet classic. They’re visually interesting, and far less monochromatic than last gen’s selection (Sidebar; Nike’s pewter, to me, also matches the color of raw cast iron, which was used to make cannons… and cannonballs, which might be a cool nickname for these. Here’s hoping I’m a trendsetter.). The pirate ships and wordmark come along from the other two, only in red instead of black, as are the sleeve stripes. Again, excellent contrast. The incorporation of tradition here, though, goes all the way back to the First Generation Creamsicle uniforms in the form of the numbers and the pant stripes, white outlined in red, exactly as they were then. They’re just on pewter instead of orange. This really bridges the gap between the origins of the franchise and the future. The pewter Color Rush uniforms were truly designed with integrity.
So the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have done something here that, as I said, is exceedingly difficult; they’ve successfully blended all three generations of the team’s identity. They did it in a way that is honest, honorable and has unleashed a tsunami of pride in us, the loyal supporters. They did it with integrity. In these latest uniforms, the Buccaneers organization has encompassed the heritage of an always proud past while simultaneously looking ahead, with confidence and hope, to a promising, glorious future.
Hey, hey, Tampa Bay. The Bucs know how to shine!