TAMPA — First it was a new coach, then a new general manager. Throw in a new logo and helmet design and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are definitely going to look different in 2014.
For the first time since they replaced the original Bucco Bruce logo with the flag logo in 1997, the Bucs are changing the logo on their helmet, former Bucs great Warren Sapp revealed Tuesday.
The new helmet will officially be unveiled Thursday night on the NFL Network, where Sapp is scheduled to be joined in the studio by two-time Bucs Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
Sapp, who hinted Monday that he would be breaking some Bucs news Tuesday, has already offered some hints regarding the changes, tweeting that the new helmet includes a chrome face mask.
Bucs officials said the team has been working in conjunction with the NFL on the new logo design and that it is under strict orders not to reveal details of the changes before the official unveiling Thursday.
The addition of a chrome facemask suggests a possible change in uniform color scheme as well, but Bucs officials said no drastic changes have been made to the red and pewter that was adopted in 1997.
The Bucs, who recently hired Lovie Smith as head coach and Jason Licht as GM, first took the field in 1976 wearing an orange, white and red uniform. The outfit included a white helmet with an orange facemask, an orange center stripe outlined in red, and a winking, orange-faced, dagger-in-teeth pirate with a red-feathered hat and hair.
During a stretch of on-field futility during the 1980s and early 1990s, the logo, designed by then-Tampa Tribune cartoonist Lamar Sparkman, came to be known sarcastically as “Bucco Bruce” and the uniform’s orange was identified as “Creamsicle,” for its resemblance to the orange-covered vanilla Popsicle treat.
That uniform design made a comeback in 2009, when the Bucs wore it for the first time since 1996 during a game against Green Bay at Raymond James Stadium that drew an announced crowd of 62,994.
The Bucs wore the orange “throwback’’ uniforms once each of the next three years. Last season, the Bucs planned to wear the uniform for a Sept. 29 game against Arizona, but a new NFL safety rule requiring players to wear the same helmet all season long forced them to ditch the plan.
“While we regret that our players won’t be able to don the ‘Bucco Bruce’ helmet and traditional orange, red and white uniforms, there simply was no acceptable way to meet the requirements of the new policy while staying true to the spirit of our throwback theme,” Bucs chief operating officer Brian Ford said in a statement in September. “We will continue to explore options with the league office for bringing back this fan favorite in future seasons.”