What are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers doing? I’m not wondering why Jason Licht, the team’s general manager, is getting death threats from Twitter trolls. I’m not wondering about why Dirk Koetter is returning as head coach simply because his team played spoiler against the New Orleans Saints in Week 17. I’m not even wondering how close the team came to introducing Jon Gruden as their next head coach for the 2018-19 season. No, what I’m wondering about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is much simpler than that: When is the team ushering in their new uniforms for the 2018-19 season?
I’m waiting. You’re waiting. Really, every football fan is waiting for the Bucs to do something about those uniforms.
You know the ones -- they’re red, pewter, and, well, orange. When the team originally decided to rebrand in the ‘90s, they dropped the Creamsicle uniforms, introduced the red and pewter combination, and added a skull and swords to their helmets to make the team look more intimidating. It made sense because as much as I like the look of the Creamsicle uniforms, whenever I see them I think of how bad that franchise was when they were wearing them. 0-26 will always be the legacy of those unis. They needed to change, so they did.
Then, in 2014, the team decided to get even edgier by allowing an angsty, Disturbed superfan teenager to tweak their already Very Fine uniforms. The logo became overstretched, the face masks were chromed out, a shade of orange was reintroduced, and the objectively worst number font in NFL history. The Jacksonville Jaguars introduced two-toned helmets, added a UPS-style patch and their uniforms still came out significantly better than the Buccaneers. How is that possible? I’m not saying Mike Glennon would have become a franchise quarterback had the Bucs not changed uniforms during his tenure, but it didn’t help.
A few weeks ago, the Jaguars, along with the Miami Dolphins, which, if you’re following along closely, means every other team in the state of Florida that did abhorrent things to their once-great uniforms, admitted they royally messed up. The two-tone helmets are gone in Jacksonville, sorry A.J. Bouye, and the team introduced new uniforms that bring back memories of Fred Taylor, Jimmy Smith, Mark Brunell, John Henderson. In Miami, the changes were minor, but they were enough. Like the inclusion of orange to the Bucs’ uniforms, the inclusion of a shade of blue in Miami never fit. So they dropped the blue, and the team reemphasized the aqua-and-orange look that always popped. Both franchises admitted through these changes that they messed up.
So what are the Bucs waiting on? Part of the appeal in the Jaguars and Dolphins going the nostalgic route is that their uniforms now remind fans of the good times. For Miami, it’s now more Dan Marino and less Matt Moore. For Jacksonville, it’s more Mark Brunell and less Blake Bortles. Those uniforms are, for the most part, not only associated with a better look and color scheme, but a better and team and time in the franchise’s life. For Tampa Bay, those uniforms they wore during the 90s up until 2014 were the Glory Days -- Tony Dungy, Shaun King, Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Ronde Barber, Dexter Jackson, Brad Johnson, Jon Alstott, Keyshawn Johnson, Warrick Dunn and the list goes on and on from there. When I think of the Bucs, that’s who I think of, and I think of those uniforms, and I think of the Bucs blowing out Rich Gannon’s Oakland Raiders in San Diego in the Super Bowl, Ronde Barber’s pick-six in the Philadelphia Eagles playoff game and Todd Pinkston in hot pursuit. Those were the good times in Tampa Bay.
Now, the team is wearing uniforms the 32-ranked uniforms in the NFL, according to a Sacramento Bee sportswriter. The Tampa Bay Times ran a Twitter poll in April, where only 16 percent of 442 votes chose the option: “I like them!”. I think it’s fair to assume that most of the Twitter users who chose this preposterous option did so to skew the results. I’m sure there are a handful of confused souls who love a good overstretched helmet logo, but 16 percent is too high. Perhaps most importantly, this has always been the case. Since their debut in 2014, the uniforms have been panned across the board from Tampa Bay fans to just football and sports fans across the country. If the Saints were to ever change their uniform, a massive revolt on Bourbon Street isn’t out of the question, but something tells me if season-ticket holders for the Bucs are emailed a press release announcing the team is returning to their previous look, the city of Tampa would be fine.
And there’s still time, decision-makers in Tampa Bay. It’s only May, and the team is riding a post-draft high. Vita Vea might be the next Warren Sapp, Gerald McCoy finally has some help, Mike Evans is still on the team, and did I mention the team might actually have a pass rush next season? Keep the momentum rolling and just change your albatross uniforms. Everybody else is doing it. So should you.