Do you remember your first love? Was it that girl who first held your hand in kindergarten, whose face you’ll never forget? Maybe it was the guy who asked you to couple skate in 5th grade, just before adolescence, but the butterflies in your stomach said differently. I remember my first love, and, as superficial as this may sound, it was Bucco Bruce! No, seriously, I have witnesses here.
The Bucs flagship logo was designed by Tampa Tribune artist Lamar Sparkman. The winking pirate also featured colors drawn from Florida’s major college teams, orange from the universities of Miami and Florida and red from FSU and the University of Tampa. But these are just facts. The real magic for me was when you went to the old Sombrero, and the sharpness of the colors would bounce in the sunshine of a Florida day, making this young man fixate on the exactness, the perfection of the art. Even better, when the lights would come on as the sun began its descent on a fall afternoon, the colors got crisper, even brighter.
To make matters even better, the Buccaneers were one of the first NFL teams to wear white uniforms at home, forcing the visiting team to wear their dark colors. They had a little bit of a home field advantage in the blazing sun, which made the specificity of the colors stand out even more.
When it was first announced that the Bucs were working with the NFL to design a more intimidating logo for the 1997 season, I had reservations. Then the first images of the designs were released, and I can honestly say that the colors, the skull, and the crossed sabers, flying from an even larger saber, started to grow on me. I would miss Bucco Bruce, but then throwback uniforms would eventually become a thing, and I would get the chance to feel that young love again.
I am tickled to know that there are younger generations of Buccaneer fans, my children included, who will have the same memories I do with our current uniforms. And who knows? With throwbacks being a thing, maybe, just maybe, one of them will someday say Bucco Bruce was their first love….