TAMPA — Who says you can’t go back and still move forward?
The Bucs embraced their most successful years as a franchise, releasing a uniform redesign Tuesday afternoon that mirrors their Super Bowl-era threads, while also showing off an all-pewter, color-rush uniform that presents a new look without compromising the team’s identity.
Fans seemed to have no problem turning the page on the loud, clashing alarm-clock number uniforms the Bucs wore over the past six seasons, a result of a Nike modernization project gone awry.
“I think last time they tried to make a big splash and they tried to go over the top and it didn’t work out all that well,” said A.J. Crisp, a 33-year-old Bucs fan in Cleburne, Texas. “This time they played it a little more safe, which sometimes is better. To me they just modernized or sharpened the great look from the Super Bowl era.”
Growing up in Dallas Cowboys country, Crisp became a Bucs fan by watching Mike Alstott run over tacklers and John Lynch drill receivers coming over the middle. All while playing in those pewter-and-red uniforms and reaching the playoffs seven times over an 11-year span. And don’t forget that lone Super Bowl win in 2002 that came thanks to physical play and determination.
“The uniforms are clean,” said Debbie Kemp, 58, of Westchase. “To me, it designates a clean start and a new beginning. A new beginning, but also trying to get back to where we were when we had the No. 1 defense, when we had (Warren) Sapp and we had (Derrick) Brooks and we had Ronde (Barber). I think that links it together, the new with the old.”
The digital numbers of the old uniforms never caught on, but the Bucs found a way to reconnect with their fans through this redesign.
“Love the classic look,” said professional soccer player Jeff Attinella, a 31-year-old goalkeeper for the Portland Timbers who is also a Clearwater native, former USF standout and longtime Bucs fan. “No-nonsense,” he continued,” just winning football games.”
Joseph Simmons, a 49-year-old Cape Coral resident who was a Bucs season-ticket holder from 1995 to 2009, also likes the homage to the past.
“I’m a traditionalist,” he said. “I like the uniforms that never change, like the Steelers and the Packers and the Bears ... and if they want this to be the classic look, I’d be fine with it. I love the fact they went back to the Super Bowl-era uniforms.”
The new primary uniforms mostly mirror the Super Bowl era, but fans appreciate the subtle differences. Simmons took note of the color lining on the collars and sleeves, and the resizing of the primary red pirate flag logo.
Crisp remarked on the pirate ship on both shoulders now having black sails instead of red, because “I don’t think back in the day any pirate ships had red sails; it just looks better.”
“It’s the same basic style,” Simmons said. “I would love that if they just kept that forever and ever, maybe tweaking it every 10 years or so to keep it modern, but keep the same style not some big whole change.”
Lakeland resident Chris Cook, 51, had already pre-ordered a Tom Brady jersey when the six-time Super Bowl champion signed with the Bucs last month. He figured he could just cancel his order if the redesign wasn’t to his liking. But he’s keeping it, planning to get the red Brady jersey and maybe more gear.
“I was thrilled (with the release)," he said.
Overall, the pewter jersey seemed to be the biggest hit among fans. Kemp is considering buying a Mike Evans jersey in either red or pewter. Crisp is eyeing a white Brady jersey, and either an Evans or Lavonte David jersey in pewter.
“I like the pewter (jersey) so much I’ll probably sleep in it nightly,” Attinella deadpanned.
Since their inception, the NFL color-rush uniforms can be hit or miss. And while the Bucs’ all-red color-rush jerseys seemed to be the most accepted of the digital-number uniform era, the all-pewter look embraces the Bucs’ identity uniquely.
When they introduced the Super Bowl-era uniforms in 1997 — retiring the orange, white and red creamsicles — they became the first NFL team to introduce pewter into the color scheme, and they’re still the only club to wear the shade.
“I applaud the Bucs for fully embracing it by going bold because no one else has it,” said Crisp. “They’re just going to roll out there in the all-pewter look. I think that’s great.
“How awesome would it be to wear those bad boys in Raymond James Stadium in February (when Tampa hosts the Super Bowl)?”