Sometimes, good things are hard to digest.
For example, everyone loves pizza, but it’s universally known that the finest slice of pizza will still give you heartburn. We just love it despite the grease-induced and unflattering belches that will follow.
While I’m not suggesting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers new uniforms are as good as pizza, I am suggesting that the new look is a good thing.
Back in 1997, the Bucs made a drastic uniform change. The move from creamsicle orange and Bucco Bruce to red and pewter and Captain Fear was one that became a catalyst for success on the field. An up-and-coming young team under head coach Tony Dungy enjoyed years of success and consistent playoff appearances, including making the NFC Championship Game in 1999. When Dungy was fired after another early-playoff exit in 2001, Jon Gruden came in and led the Buccaneers to their only Super Bowl title in 2002.
Since the Gruden era, the Buccaneers haven’t had much success to talk about. With only one winning season, no playoff appearances, and multiple cases of MRSA under their belt in the last five years, the time has come to change things up once again.
You may dislike the look; many do.
You may think the bold isn’t so beautiful. But the Bucs had to be bold.
The Buccaneers haven’t been bold since the days of Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks. They haven’t struck fear in the hearts of their opponents in a very long time. The uniforms that sparked a winning change in 1997 were now becoming associated with losing.
Tampa Bay is turning a corner. With new head coach Lovie Smith, and a young nucleus of talented players, the Glazer family is hoping these uniforms are the bold symbol that represent the team they’ve been building in recent years, and that the new look will be associated with the only thing that matters: winning.
They don’t want you think these are the same Buccaneers of the last five years. They have the players to make a statement; Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, Darrelle Revis, Doug Martin, etc. Now they have the uniforms.
The large flag logo on both sides of the helmet. The chrome on the facemask and outlining the heavily-critiqued numbers. The small flashes of orange to pay tribute to their past, and the pewter on their shoulders to represent the future.
They aren’t very pretty, but this change isn’t about fashion; it’s about toughness.
And toughness isn’t a pretty thing.
People haven’t associated the Buccaneer brand with toughness in a long time. For five years, they’ve been run by incompetent coaching staff and have played an inept brand of football. If these Bucs win in these uniforms, both of their reputations will change.
The uniforms? They’ll be accepted, ugliness and all.
The team? They’ll be embraced.
An example of this is the Seattle Seahawks organization, who changed uniforms in 2012. At the time, they were considered ugly, and many fans hated them. That was when the team was playing bad football in a terrible division.
Then they started winning.
Two years later, they have a Super Bowl championship under their belts, and they have three of the top 10 best-selling uniforms in the NFL (Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman).
If Tampa Bay starts winning like Seattle has won recently, fans won’t care what they uniforms look like. They’ll support the team no matter what. The organization made a conscious decision to create a new identity for themselves after their recent struggles, and this is the first step. The next step involves putting a better product out on the field, and the Bucs seem committed to doing so.
A bevy of young talent is there to become the Warren Sapps, Derrick Brookses and John Lynches of today. Instead of living in their shadows, they’re now able to create their own brand of Buccaneer football, complete with their own look and identity.
It may not be your favorite slice of pizza, but it’s still a good thing…just like any slice of pizza.