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Bucs uniform redesign: Let’s be more like ... the Bengals?

Cincinnati’s costumes are often derided, but there’s something about them that we find inspiring. It’s better to dare to be bold than to settle for ordinary.
When the Bucs unveiled new uniforms in 2014, they introduced a helmet that featured a larger red battle flag. The reaction was mixed, with some saying that the flag was too big. We say it could be even bigger. [PHELAN M. EBENHACK  |  Associated Press]
When the Bucs unveiled new uniforms in 2014, they introduced a helmet that featured a larger red battle flag. The reaction was mixed, with some saying that the flag was too big. We say it could be even bigger. [PHELAN M. EBENHACK | Associated Press]
Published Dec. 21, 2019

The holiday season is a time for reflection, for thinking about what truly matters. Like fixing the Buccaneers’ hideous uniforms. Today, Tampa Bay Times page designer Lisa Merklin makes her pitch.

Miss our previous mockups? Find them here, here and here.

Want to get involved? Go to and download the uniform template. Share your design on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #FixTheBucsUnis, or email it to Soon, we’ll publish a selection of your redesigns at and in the Times.

• • •

When I moved to St. Petersburg from southeastern Virginia about a year ago, I was curious about how Tampa Bay sports fans felt about their teams. Bucs fans are often frustrated but ultimately hopeful that something better is around the corner.

Give the fans what they want.

The Bucs need uniforms that make them look, if not play, like they mean business, so I sought to design a game-day aesthetic that intimidates opponents, just like the buccaneers who terrorized 17th-century Spanish sailors in the Caribbean.

First, a confession: I think the Bengals’ uniforms look sharp. And an even bigger confession: I took my inspiration from the team’s signature stripes.

To me, it’s worse to have a forgettable uniform than an ugly one. The Bengals’ uniforms might be close to universally reviled, but at least they’re instantly recognizable. They get people talking. My Bucs uniform design might just do that.

The home uniform unapologetically embraces the Bucs' trademark pewter. [LISA MERKLIN | Times]
The flag design along the side panels of the uniform would be controversial, but maybe in time it could be as iconic as the Bengals' stripes. [LISA MERKLIN | Times]

Instead of incorporating stripes, I drew the raw edge of the tattered flag in the Bucs logo down the sides of the uniform. It evokes toughness.

For a sleek look, I simplified the color palette (goodbye, orange!) and continued the ripped pattern down through the mid-thigh. The socks and helmet provide another pop of color, along with coordinating gloves and shoes.

I enlarged the logo on the helmet and, rather than having one image on each side, centered it on the back of the helmet. When the Bucs run the ball, I want the opposing team to see the skull leering at them — just as the Jolly Roger would wave before a pirate attack.

Contact Lisa Merklin at


  1. Tom Brady and the Patriots have appeared in eight straight AFC championship games and have won three of the past five Super Bowls. [JEFF ROBERSON  |  Associated Press]
  2. Bruce Arians said the Bucs' new uniforms will look more like this. The hope is they will play more like this. [DAMASKE, JIM  |  St. Petersburg Times]
  3. It sounds like Bucs coaches and the front office have had a change of heart on tight end O.J. Howard. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
  4. Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. [MICHAEL CONROY  |  AP]
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett in action during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Detroit. [PAUL SANCYA  |  AP]
  6. In this file photo, Bucs coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Jameis Winston walk off the field after a season-opening home loss to San Francisco. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  7. Florida State running back Cam Akers (3) runs for a touchdown during the first quarter of last season's home opener against Boise State. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  8. He may look happy here, but Bradley Pinion seems pretty overjoyed (at least on social media) at the prospect of the team dumping this uni design. [Times]
  9. Kacey Reynolds announces that LSU linebacker Devin White has been selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round at the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The Bucs announced Sunday that Reynolds had died at age 20 after a three-year battle with Hodgkin lymphoma. [MARK HUMPHREY  |  AP]
  10. Linebacker Shaquil Barrett's bet on himself is about to pay off, in Tampa Bay or elsewhere. [PAUL SANCYA  |  AP]
  11. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99),  during the first half of a game against the Chiefs on Jan. 12, 2020, took to Twitter to give his view of the owners' labor proposal: "A hard no." (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann) [REED HOFFMANN  |  AP]
  12. Monte Kiffin, shown here talking to safety John Lynch during a preseason game against the Jaguars on Aug. 16, 2002, this season will be the 14th inductee into the Bucs Ring of Honor. [WHITE, KEVIN  |  St. Petersburg Times]