Well, nobody saw that coming.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers surprised the uni-verse on Thursday by announcing that they'd be unveiling a new logo and helmet that will debut next season. This was a surprise -- there had been no rumors, no leaks.
And now that the new design has been unveiled, that's a surprise as well. Take a look (click to enlarge):
The scuttlebutt over the past few days had been that the Bucs would be going for a white helmet. As you can see, that didn't turn out to be the case. There are several elements worth assessing here, so let's go one at a time:
1. The new logo design. It's sleeker, less tattered-looking. That's good if you like your pirate imagery looking slick and modern, not so good if you like it rough-edged and weathered. The feeling here is that it's a slight downgrade. Realistically, though, most fans won't even notice the difference. Why bother revising your logo if you're going to make such tiny changes?
2. The increased helmet logo size. Way too big, especially given all the vent holes and ridges on today's helmets. Bigger logo decals are also more prone to getting nicked and torn during a game. (Which means the sleeker logo may end up looking tattered after all!) Shed a tear for the Bucs' equipment staffers, who are going to have a difficult time working with decals this big.
3. The new helmet shell. Really glad they stuck with the pewter, which is a unique color in the sports world and one the Bucs totally own. They've made it shinier, which looks cool at a news conference, but that's not representative of how it'll look on the field. We'll have to wait and see before making a final determination.
4. The chrome facemask. Love it. The old black mask got swallowed up by the pewter shell, but this new mask will pop. A surprisingly effective move, and an NFL first to boot.
5. The new uniforms. No sign of those yet. But according to this report on the new helmet, the team's new uni set will be unveiled on the afternoon of March 5. Meanwhile, we can all debate the merits of the new helmet until then.
Paul Lukas is very happy that the Bucs stuck with the pewter. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted or just ask him a question? Contact him here.