Time To Throw Away The Throwbacks In Tampa
By Dave Ford
Long before throwback jerseys became cool in the NFL, the bottom line was tied to wins and losses. Like it or not, uniforms hold memories within them. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the franchise that set a record for futility by losing its first 26 games, the creamsicle uniforms made up of orange, red and white are directly tied to that era.
During the 21 years that Tampa Bay donned the league’s worst-ever color combination, only three of them manifested a playoff appearance. After the Bucs fell to Dallas in the postseason for the second time in as many years, it marked the final occasion the helmets with good old “Bucco Bruce” on the side would enjoy a playoff run. What followed next was a painful reminder of how losing and bad uniforms go hand-in-hand.
From 1983-1996 – 14 consecutive seasons – the Buccaneers suffered through numerous terrible draft choices, one bad coach after another and a litany of jokes aimed at them and their inability to strike fear in the hearts of teams throughout the league because of a winking pirate wearing a plumed hat on their helmets. How does a locker room full of underachievers get amped up to hit somebody when they look like a moving pumpkin patch?
Despite the fact that future Super Bowl-bound players like Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Mike Alstott and John Lynch all wore the uniforms that came straight from Cinderella’s broom closet after the stroke of midnight, it was not until 1997 when things finally turned around for Tampa Bay and its fan base. It was that season when the franchise underwent a mighty facelift and went with a progressive and intimidating look that matched the times. Gone was the predominant jack-o-lantern orange, replaced with pewter, red, black and a just a hint of orange – a much more dull shade at that – as a nod to the team’s roots.
Given the motivation for a new attitude and confidence, the Bucs jumped out to a 5-0 record and finished the season 10-6, en route to their first playoff appearance since 1982. They went on to beat the visiting Detroit Lions 20-10 in the Wild Card round to close down “The Big Sombrero” and simultaneously released nearly two decades of pessimism in and out of the franchise. However, after a 13-year absence, in conjunction with the Buccaneers Ring of Honor and the 30th anniversary of the 1979 division championship team, Tampa Bay decided to bring back the orange throwback uniforms in 2009 for at least one game every season.
That makes sense after all, considering the Bucs have not made a playoff appearance since 2007. Why not reintroduce losing to Central Florida all over again? Last I checked, orange is one of the colors of fire, so how about setting those God-awful uniforms ablaze once and for all, and leave them in their tattered past?