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Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Several Bucs helmets didn't make the cut in 1997

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will unveil an “enhanced” logo and new helmet design Thursday night, the culmination of months of market research and input from NFL Properties, which controls the branding of all 32 teams.

The process is a Hail Mary's heave from 1947, when Los Angeles Rams halfback Fred Gehrke decided to paint horns on his helmet to inspire the team after a 6-6 season. Rams owner Dan Reeves loved the idea so much, he got Gehrke to paint 75 more helmets at a $1 each, beginning the NFL's logo age.

So the Bucs' first major logo change since scrapping their winking swashbuckler for a blood-red jolly Roger in 1997 wasn't ordered on a whim to coincide with a new coaching staff.

Case in point comes through a visit to the lobby at One Buccaneer Place. A glass case displays the evolution of what became the pewter helmet worn the past 17 years. Several prototypes didn't make the cut — some white, some silver, and all featuring a version of the skull and/or cross swords the ended up on the final design.

See the display here.

† It's possible one of those rejects might influence the “enhanced” look that will be revealed by ex-Buc star Warren Sapp and current Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy. Sapp began the hype for the new helmet via Twitter on Monday. The unveiling will come during a segment on the NFL Network's “Total Access,” which begins at 8.

Sapp dropped a clue: “chrome grill.”

Acceptance is obviously key, especially since NFL teams must wait at least five years between uniform changes. The updated logo will likely be on T-shirts and store shelves within days of the announcement, and the team would anticipate merchandising to be lucrative.

No change in team colors is expected, but there was no word on whether the uniforms will be tweaked.

Last year's major redesigns were by the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings. Miami streamlined its dolphin logo in teal. The Jags introduced a two-colored helmet shell. The Vikings placed their long-standing horn logo on a matted, rather than glossy, purple helmet.

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