Pirates in Pewter: History of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jersey

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers jersey and uniform as a whole looks dramatically different from when the team entered the league as a member of the AFC West in 1976. As the story goes, original owner Hugh Culverhouse initially picked the color green to go with the expansion franchise’s white, orange, and red look. However, the green resembled that of the Miami Dolphins, so another shade of Florida orange, nicknamed ‘creamsicle,’ was introduced.

As a result, the Buccaneers’ helmet and jerseys became one of the most infamous of all-time, as were the first uniforms.

 

1976-1996

Buccaneers 1976 to 1996 Home Jersey

From 1976 to 1996, the Bucs’ jerseys consisted of an orange base, white numbering, red trim, TV numbers of the same color and trim on the sleeves, and stripes at the base including of a red-white-red pattern.

The road look was an exact inverse of the home, with orange numbers, red outlines, and a red-orange-red sleeve stripe pattern.

In 1977, the Bucs tweaked their white jerseys to where the numbering was red with orange outlines.

These jerseys remained largely unchanged over the next two decades, despite the ridicule they were subject to.

 

1997-2013

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1997-2013 home jersey

In 1997, the Bucs finally dropped their infamous creamsicle uniforms for something more intimidating. The home jerseys included a darker shade of red. Black was added to the base of the sleeves and collar. The white numbers included orange and black outlines, and TV numbers were moved to the shoulders. Also, an alternate logo featuring a black pirate ship with the Jolly Roger helmet logo appeared on the sleeves.

The road whites also featured the black collar and sleeves stripe. The black pirate ship logo also appeared at the sleeves, and the numbers were red with orange and black trim.

Pewter was also added to the color scheme but only appeared on the helmets and pants. It’s also good to note that orange did remain in the color scheme, but as an accent.

Fondness eventually grew for the team’s old jerseys and uniforms, despite efforts made to completely erase them from the Bucs’ past. In 2009, they redebuted the look as an alternate to be worn one to two times per year. On such weekends, the Bucs even painted end zones and the midfield logo in the old color scheme. This alternate lasted until 2012 the year before the NFL banned the use of multiple helmets during the season.

 

2014-Present

Buccaneers current road jersey

The Bucs scrapped the Super Bowl-winning look in 2014 and opted for something new. While the color scheme remained, an arena-football like jersey debuted.

The home look included red with a strange numbering scheme, which critics referred to as “1980s digital alarm clock numbers.” The white numbers contained a faint, orange outline along with black. The numbers also have divides which supposedly glow when hit by a certain angle of light. The pewter shoulder panels separated themselves from red with a thin, orange diagonal line. The wordmark ‘BUCS’ appeared on one sleeve while the pirate ship logo appeared on the opposite side. The TV numbers are red with an orange outline.

The white jerseys included red numbering, the same glow phenomena on the numbers, black and orange trim, pewter shoulder panels, red TV numbers with orange outlines, the ‘BUCS’ wordmark on one side of the sleeves and the ship logo on the opposite side. The creamsicle line splits the white from the pewter at the shoulder.

In 2015, the Bucs debuted their Color Rush look. Pewter numbers, white outlines, and the glow phenomena all return to the red jerseys. There are no shoulder panels or strange divides. The TV numbers are pewter as well.

 

Shop Tampa Bay Buccaneers gear at FansEdge.com

 

My Take

Buccaneers Color Rush

The Bucs had a great look between 1997 and 2013. Then they had to mess it up. I’ve honestly never seen such a degradation of a uniform at any time in NFL history, and there have been some pretty bad jerseys, such as the 2002-2011 Seattle Seahawks, the 2002-2010 Buffalo Bills, and the 2013-2017 Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Bucs have arguably the worst jerseys in the NFL and overall one of the worst, if not the worst uniforms. These need to be scrapped, as the Bucs have become the butt of jokes everywhere once again. As for me, the old Bucco Bruce era creamsicles looked okay. The 1997-2013 look was a ringer. The 2014-present design is just horrific.

Related Article: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Helmet History

Gallery

1997-2013 Road Jersey

Buccaneers 1997-2013 road jersey

8 comments

  1. Hmmm.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made some fairly drastic changes to their jerseys over the years.  I agree with you.  I am not so sure that I like the changes.   

    Maybe it is because orange is popular right now, but I didn’t think the 1976 -1996 version was a bad look.    I am fairly confident that their willingness to make major changes to their uniforms, there will probably be another change in the not too distant future.  

    1. Beyond drastic at that, Sondra, I can tell you that much. I never thought it was a bad look either. In fact, I can see that in this new age with increased fondness for the old stuff that these uniforms just might make a comeback, perhaps in a modernized fashion. 

  2. I love your collection and content on these buccaneers jerseys. It’s interesting to know the history behind these jersey’s as you are telling the story above. Even though you are going with the present and not the past. The past fits looks loose and all, but that was the past and in those days all clothes were a loose fit.

    My husband loves the 2014-Present look.

    This is a great collection you are promoting. Thanks for the read and all the best.

    Aabidah

    1. Hi Aabidah, I don’t know how much longer that look will stick around, so definitely look to get one of those jerseys soon. They’re panned everywhere but a few people have seemed fond of them. If it wasn’t for the strange numbering and creamsicle divide, I’d be all for them! 

  3. As a Pirate, I appreciate this article. I like the idea of the pirate ship and Jolly Roger on the sleeve.

    But as a resident of Texas, my team is the Cowboys. Alas.

    I’m not a big fan of the details, I like to watch the games, and eat Pirate Party Food with strong beer.

    But, I do agree with the author, the 1997 – 2013 jersey was the best. The more modern ones are OK, but many times the classics are just more appealing. And you’re right, the ‘creamsicle’ is a travesty. I don’t recall as I ever saw the Bucs play in them. Maybe TV didn’t like them much back in those days.

    Question: is there a place online to buy this older design jersey? I like the color, and the Buccaneer theme on the sleeve. I might even go to the neighborhood bar when the Cowboys play, just for the mischief delight of it all.

    Thanks for the info. I enjoyed this article.

    Thanks.

    Pirate Mike – Foodie

    1. Love that 1997-2013 look! It would’ve been tough for the Bucs to grace National TV with those uniforms, simply because the team was so bad following 1979. But overall, teams who don’t win just won’t make it onto Prime Time. And yeah, Mike, go ahead and click the banner toward the bottom of the article with the Fan’s Edge logo and you’ll be funneled straight through to the Bucs gear. Just click on the jerseys section and you’ll see tons of classic jerseys, including players like Mike Alstott and John Lynch. 

  4. Hi, Todd.
    Thanks for sharing the history of Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jersey from 1976  to 2014.
    The color of initial phase was superb as it was way bright , giving positive vibes from the players. I don’t understand why the color was switched from Orange base to Dark Red. As if, it was also OK but, the white of 2014 is quite awkward. Maybe you agree with me.
    Warm Regards,
    Gaurav Gaur

    1. Hi, Gaurav. I’m not sure why so many people despised it, especially for a Florida team in the 1970s and 1980s, when bright colors were more of a thing. I understand the changes made in the late 1990s, but since brighter colors are becoming a thing once more, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bucco Bruce returned. 

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