Buccaneers vs. Saints: A brief history


Please excuse my generation if we have a bit of a soft spot for the New Orleans Saints. The times Tampa Bay would host a matchup of these two teams would always be a game children of the ’80s got to go to. It got really tight with the fleur-de-lis and Bucco Bruce battling it out at the Big Sombrero.

Humble Beginnings

Both teams were born in a time of backroom handshake deals. The Buccaneers would eventually be awarded to Hugh Culverhouse after issues with financing by the original Tampa Bay investor popped up. Culverhouse originally had a handshake deal to purchase the Los Angele Rams from their original owner. But it was thwarted by Robert Irsay’s purchase of the team who then traded it to Carol Rosenblum for the Indianapolis Colts.

NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle needed congressional approval for an AFL-NFL merger. New Orleans was hosting NFL exhibition games to great crowds and had been trying to secure a team for five years. On November 1, 1966, it was announced the team had been born. The November 1st announcement was scheduled to coincide with All Saints Day, a reflection of the large catholic population in the area.

Franchise Symbols And Colors

The Buccaneers were named to represent the rich local history with pirates, ships, nautical theme. Gasparilla, Spanish explorer Pánfilo de Narvaez and all things Tampa Bay.

The Saints were named for the jazz song “When the Saints Go Marching In”. The team’s original majority stockholder was an oilman, and New Orleans has strong ties to the oil industry. Thus the team colors black and old gold are meant to reflect these ties. The Fleur-de-lis on the side of the helmet is both a symbol of French religious and nobility. Kind of goes back to that whole Louisiana Purchase thing.

There are good, historical, solid team logos throughout the NFL. When it comes to representation of the areas and the histories of team branding, Tampa Bay and New Orleans are a couple of the best.

The Rivalry

It started in futility as both teams spent most of their early years as a doormat for the rest of the league. Many years the Bucs/Saints matchup felt like the battle for the basement. The first 20 years for New Orleans were tough. The ’79 and ’83 teams the only ones to finish at .500. Tampa Bay had quite a few seasons like that as well.

With divisional realignment in 2002, both teams would be in the same division for the first time. Then things started to get interesting. Since 2002, the Buccaneers are 8-9 in the big easy. Saints lead the overall series since realignment at 17-14.

Road Trip

If you have never been to New Orleans for a Bucs/Saints game, you have to go at least once. They will give you the business. But the trip walking down Bourbon Street and the stadium within walking distance make this a destination game to be enjoyed.

If you have ever tailgated for a home Bucs/Saints game you have no doubt experienced at one time or another the “who dat” chant. Like mosquitoes in a swamp, those Saints fans will wander by and pester with the chant and those colors, and that damn fleur-de-lis.

Chuck Muncie, Archie Manning, Ricky Bell, Doug Williams, even Jack Dempsey, and Neil O’Donohue. These teams have history. Adding the team as a divisional rival has made this matchup even more epic.

Photo credit: Addicted to Helmets