TAMPA, Fla. -- The "alarm clock" uniform numbers are no more for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are going back to their roots in 2020 with a new uniform that pays homage to their best years and adds a futuristic twist, the team announced Tuesday.
They won't be wearing the "creamsicle" colors from their earliest days -- as some fans called for -- but have gone to a look that resembles the threads from their winningest era of football, from 1997 to 2013, and their Super Bowl XXXVII title.
"This new but familiar look is a direct result of the valuable feedback we received from our fans," Buccaneers owner/co-chairman Ed Glazer said in a statement. "We are excited to return to our classic Super Bowl era uniforms while also introducing a sleek Color Rush uniform that showcases our signature pewter in a new and dramatic way. The refreshed classic design of our home and away combinations bridges our past with our exciting new future, and we are confident it will resonate with our fans."
The Bucs spent two years creating their previous uniforms, which they unveiled in 2014, but they were never a hit with the fans, who complained that they were "too busy" and the numbers were too difficult to read.
NFL rules mandate that uniforms can't be changed more than once every five years. Wearing the previous uniforms through 2019, the Bucs went 34-62 (.354), third worst in the NFL, and did not reach the postseason.
From 1976 to 1996, the Bucs wore orange and white "creamsicle" uniforms with red trim and a winking pirate known as "Bucco Bruce." In 1997, under their current ownership, the Glazer family, the Bucs unveiled a new color scheme that featured red, black, white and pewter and replaced Bucco Bruce with a menacing skull and swords logo. The team kept that look for 17 years, going 133-139 and 5-6 in the postseason.
There are differences between the new uniforms and those from the Super Bowl era. The fit of the jersey and pants is sleeker, with less sheen and more of a matte finish. The uniforms have three color combos instead of two: red, white and an all-pewter uniform for Color Rush games. The Bucs previously wore all red for Color Rush games.
The pewter helmet with the oversized logo that made its debut in 2014 will remain, but it will have a black face mask instead of chrome.
Bucs inside linebacker and team captain Lavonte David, who modeled the uniforms, said they bring feelings of nostalgia. He wore the Super Bowl uniform his first two years in the league.
"Knowing that they were victorious in those uniforms, similar to [our] uniforms, I feel like a lot of the guys on the team feel like we need to get back to that," David said. "And there's an opportunity right now.
"I kind of get that feeling when I put them on. It's just different when you put those uniforms on. It reminds you of the times in Tampa, when everything was on the 'up and up.' Now we're trying to get it back to that way. New uniforms, new team, new look -- now we've just gotta put it all on the field now."
The Bucs have expressed a desire to wear their creamsicle uniforms for throwback games but have been unable to do so because NFL rules require players to keep the same helmet throughout the season. The Bucs' old helmets were white, unlike their current pewter ones. They are hoping they will be able to wear the white helmets in the future, though.
The Buccaneers made the decision to change uniforms before Tom Brady signed with the club in free agency last month, but he doesn't hurt their brand, considering that Brady's jersey was the top seller in NFL jerseys in 2019 and was the only one to top the NFLPA's Player Sales List seven times. The Bucs did not have a player represented in the top 50 in jersey sales in 2019.
"It's gonna hit, I feel like," David said when asked how it will feel to see Brady wearing the uniform for the first time. "It's gonna hit -- reality is gonna set in -- we've got one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, one of the great dudes, one of the greatest guys to play the position, and it's gonna bring that winning mentality to our program."