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'More menacing skull' highlights Tampa Bay Buccaneers giant logo on helmet


When Tampa Bay talks about an "enhanced logo" on a new helmet, what it really means is an enlarged logo. As Warren Sapp unveiled the "enhanced logo" and new helmet Thursday evening on the NFL Network, we saw the Buccaneers flag grow and the face mask turn chrome against a darker shade of pewter. But not much else.

The logo retains the skull over swords of the version that first appeared in 1997, but does offer a more vibrant red, as Bucs' defensive star Gerald McCoy says. The skull also grew a bit more "menacing." We did get a slight change to the base color, which now includes a darker pewter that shades as it moves across the lid. The darkness likely shelves the "creamsicle" motif of old yet again.

When the Buccaneers opened up their aesthetic identity in 1976 they offered us a red, white and “Florida orange” combination. It was since lovingly -- by some, anyway -- dubbed the creamsicle. In 1997 the Bucs ditched Buccaneer Bruce -- you know, the winking pirate with the fancy plume -- and his soft coloring in favor of a new logo and color scheme of red, pewter and black. That has remained Tampa’s main look, dominated by a sparkly pewter helmet, with the occasional creamsicle throwback tossed in.

But in 2013 Tampa Bay wasn’t allowed to use its throwback uniform set because of a new concussion-centric rule that didn’t allow teams to use one-off helmets. The Florida orange and white uniform and pants just didn’t match well with a pewter and red helmet, ending any hopes of throwback games. By sticking with the pewter, the fancy plume of Buccaneer Bruce may stay on the shelf a little longer.

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Sapp and McCoy praised the large flag and McCoy especially enjoyed the chrome mask. He called it "very unique to the Bucs."

Now that we have the enlarged logo and chrome-tipped helmet, we can expect to see the new wordmark also unveiled when the Bucs offer up their new uniform set March 5, even if Florida orange doesn’t take center stage.

Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and technology for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb