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I’ll get to what I think of the new Bucs uniform set in a few minutes. But first I want to talk about what a crazy day yesterday was, thanks to one of the most bizarre uniform unveilings I’ve ever covered.
As you’ll recall, the Bucs originally unveiled their new logo and helmet on Feb. 20. That unveiling also included the news that they’d be revealing their new uni set at a press conference on the afternoon of March 5. Hmmmm — a two-part unveiling, with nearly two weeks between the reveals of the helmet and the rest of the uniform? A bit unusual but hey, whatever. And the Dolphins did something similar last year, so why not?
Last week a source mentioned to me that the schedule for the uni unveiling might possibly be “tweaked.” No further details were offered. But then yesterday, at about that 8:45am, that same source told me I’d be receiving an email from the Bucs at 9am. Again, no further details were offered, but I figured this meant that the unveiling schedule had indeed been “tweaked.”
Sure enough, at 9am I received an email from the Bucs with a press release about the new uni and, very frustratingly, only one photo. The press release stated that more photos would be available at 2pm. Meanwhile, the Wednesday unveiling had been cancelled, and the team said a special uniform showcase, featuring players wearing the new designs, would be held at some point down the road for season-ticketholders.
So now we didn’t just have a two-part unveiling — we had Part 1 (the helmet), Part 2a (the 9am photo), and Part 2b (the 2pm photos). It all made for a frantic day. I had to write an initial ESPN piece based on the one photo that had been released in the morning, and then I rewrote that piece when the additional photos were released later in the day. I also posted a bonus entry here on the blog (the day’s original entry, about the new Reebok logo, had already gone up at 7:20am) and updated it several times throughout the day. Plus I did an ESPN video interview, fielded dozens of emails from people requesting comment, goddamn phone wouldn’t stop ringing, blah-blah-blah. (Good thing Garrett was on Ticker duty or I might have had a complete meltdown.)
Meanwhile, just as I finished rewriting my ESPN piece, I took part in a conference call with Bucs co-chairman Edward Glazer and Nike exec Todd Van Horne, which produced the following tidbits:
• In addition to the pewter pants shown in all the photos, there’s also a set of white pants. You can get a brief, partial, and thoroughly unsatisfying glimpse of them at the 1:51 mark of this video. (A source tells me they likely won’t be worn very much anyway.)
• In addition to the pewter-topped socks shown in most of the photos and the red-topped socks shown in one photo, there’s also a pair of orange-topped socks. Obviously, the red or orange will look much better with the pewter pants. Just as obviously, the players will probably want to wear pewter-on-pewter, creating the leotard effect. I’m willing to bet right now that the orange and red socks will combine for no more than two appearances in 2014.
• The team expects to continue wearing white jerseys for at least some of its home games, due to the Florida heat. Since the Bucs will usually end up wearing white on the road as well, this means we’ll likely see the white jerseys in about 70% of the team’s games. I count this as a big plus, because I much prefer the white design over the red one.
• The team hopes to bring back the creamsicle throwbacks at some point, but there’s no way to do it under the NFL’s current helmet rules. If and when those rules are changed, the creamsicles will definitely be back in the mix. (There was no discussion of whether a white helmet shell, which could have done double duty as a throwback shell, was considered for this new uniform. I wanted to ask about that, but I also had lots of other questions I wanted to ask, so I had to pick my spots.)
• You probably won’t notice the reflective trim on the uni numbers unless the light hits it just right, or unless someone takes a flash photograph in close proximity to the jerseys. Most of the time, it’ll be a non-issue.
• I asked why the unveiling had been moved up from Wednesday to yesterday without any notice and asked specifically if it was because they were trying to get out in front of an imminent leak. (Just to be clear: I have no information regarding a leak having been imminent, and I definitely wasn’t on the receiving end of any leak myself. I was just trying to figure out why they would unexpectedly move up the unveiling by two days.) Glazer responded like so:
We looked at this process in a few different phases. Anytime you’re doing a ground-up uniform design, that’s a lot for people to take in. So we said, “First, let’s do the helmet. Let’s let people see that and have time to digest it. Then let’s talk about the uniform.” And because we do this so infrequently — it’s been 17 years — we decided to do an in-person event with our season-ticketholders, our fans, so they can be there, not just the press.
And as for backing it up to today, a little surprise in life is always fun. There’s not much in life you can keep under wraps these days — it’s almost impossible, with the internet — so we’re proud we were able to provide a little Monday-morning surprise for our fans.
That’s a very nice song and dance, but I suspect there’s more to it than that. Unveilings like the one that was originally slated for Wednesday tend to be highly choreographed affairs. You don’t just cancel something like that on a whim. We’ll likely never find out the full story, but I bet there’s more to it than Glazer was letting on.
• I also asked the following: “I think there’s often a lot of confusion and misinformation among fans and among the media regarding how much of the creative direction on these uniforms comes from the team and how much comes from Nike. I realize that can vary from project to project. Can you shed some light on how that worked in this case?” The responses were as follows:
Glazer: We started this process a couple of years ago. And because we already had a uniform everyone was happy with, we were never in a rush. It was always, “Let’s take our time until we have something everyone feels great about, and then let’s move forward at that point.” We worked with Todd [Van Horne] over the years, looked at a lot of different designs, continued to meld and tweak, and got to the point where we looked at each other and said, “That’s it. That encapsulates the past, present and future.”
Van Horne: The process is that we come in and try to research and understand what makes Tampa Bay unique and what Mr. Glazer’s vision for the future of the organization is. We go back and forth — design is a very iterative process. And like Mr. Glazer said, we worked on literally hundreds and hundreds of different options. Yeah, we weren’t in a rush, we didn’t feel like there was a particular deadline — it was “When is it right?” and that’s when it will be revealed. It’s very much of an artistic kind of application of a process. But it’s very much a collaboration. I think we brought in innovative techniques that maybe aren’t part of Mr. Glazer’s world, and he brought a point of view that he really sees for the vision [of the franchise] that was really a nice balance and collaboration that made the creativity of that process come together.
On the one hand, this is another song and dance, and a really boilerplate one at that. Like, duh, of course it was a collaboration to at least some extent — we all know that. You could change a few proper nouns in those statements and apply them to any uniform unveiling. On the other hand, it probably isn’t realistic to expect them to give us a blow-by-blow recap of how the design came together, or to tell us which elements were most contentious, or to explain which specific design features originated with Nike and which ones originated with the team. In retrospect, I blame myself for asking a softball question that invited a fairly nebulous response.
• Todd Van Horne reallyreallyreally likes to say “innovation” and “innovators.” Seriously, I lost count of how many times he invoked those terms. Gotta give him credit for staying on message, I guess, but it does get rather tiresome. He also mentioned “storytelling” multiple times (that’s another of Nike’s favorite tropes) and referred to the Buccaneer as “a modern superhero for the future.” None of this is surprising — on the contrary, it’s pretty much Nike 101 — but it’s always depressing to hear a guy as smart and talented as Van Horne reduce himself to selling comic books to children. Todd, if you’re reading this, come on — you’re better than that.
Okay, so what do I think of the designs? My thoughts are summarized in in this ESPN piece, which ran yesterday afternoon.
Having had a bit more time to process everything, here are some additional thoughts:
• As many observers noted yesterday, matte pewter doesn’t really look like pewter. It just looks charcoal-ish. Or maybe brown-ish, depending on the lighting. Either way, it feels both less unique and less attractive than the old pewter.
• It’s hard to overstate how bad those uni numbers are. And that’s a real shame, because the more I look at the white jersey (which, as noted above, they’ll likely be wearing for about 70% of their games), the more I like it. I know many of you don’t like contrasting shoulder yokes, but I really like them on white jerseys (yes, even this one), and I love the little orange accent on that pewter yoke. It’s a good jersey! Or it would be, if not for the ruinous number font.
• Similarly, I know many of you probably don’t like the chrome facemask. But the more I see, the more I like. Too bad it’s undermined and overwhelmed by the oversized helmet logo.
Bottom line: It wasn’t broke, but they went ahead and fixed it. Sigh.
Meanwhile, I heard something about the U.S. Men’s National Team kit being released yesterday, but I never got a chance to look at it.
By Brinke Guthrie
“It smells like grandma’s house.” That’s a direct quote from the seller of this curious-looking 1970s Chargers vest. Looks like a carpet remnant to me. Makes you wonder who approved these products way back when. We may bash Nike on here from time to time, but you think Nike would roll something out that looked like this?
Okay, here are something that you actually might want to own:
• I distinctly recall Mary Tyler Moore (or was it Rhoda?) wearing one of these 1970s Vikings sweatshirts on the show. (And remember the show open where she was wearing a No. 10 Vikes jersey while washing her Mustang?)
• Here’s a really nice-looking 1970s “racing-style” Kentucky Colonels jacket.
• Baltimore Colts fans, remember the good old days with this lot of vintage Colts items.
• Several nice items from reader Michael Clary today, including this 1970s Expos cardigan sweater; a truly terrible Bills helmet plaque; a 1971 Milwaukee Bucks decanter; and a great A’s bullpen buggy! (If they had a Giants one, it would now be on my desk.)
• Joe DeAngelis is selling a set of 1975-76 WHA cards — kind of a self-serving submission, but we’ll go ahead and list it because the cards look so cool.
• Holy mackerel! Check out this collection of vintage Chicago Cubs buttons.
• From Andrew Mueller, a Brewers jersey that has been modified juuuust a little bit.
• This 1970s Cowboys duffle bag is in great shape! [Brinke, can’t believe you didn’t have that one yourself when you were a kid! — PL]
• And finally, I like the way these 1970s NFL trading card boxes were carefully labeled by their owner. So methodical!
Seen something on eBay or Etsy that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.
Unmasking the Commenters: In case you missed it yesterday, I’m looking to do a little series of features on the people who frequently participate in the Uni Watch comments. Details here.
Lewis & Clark reminder: And in case you missed it on Sunday, here’s the latest on the Lewis & Clark uni design contest that Phil’s been reporting on.
Tick-Tock: Today’s Ticker was compiled and written by Garrett McGrath.
Baseball News: Here’s great look at the Orioles logo and uniform history (thanks, Phil). … Why is Curtis Granderson wearing a new number on the Mets this season? … The Angels can’t get their spring training apostrophes right, dang nabbit (thanks, Phil). … On Sunday, Jonathan Papelbon took the mound in his regular season cap while the rest of the Phillies had the Diamond Era hats on (from Harrison Tishler). … Derek Jeter posed in uniform with a New York football hero and it isn’t who you think. … A Giants spring training T-shirt has Adidas tagging and a Majestic logo on the front.
NFL News: Come again? According to a KC TV station, the Royals beat the Chicago Bears the other day (thanks, Phil). … The NFL’s most infamous hoodie enthusiast even wears the hoodie during off-season workouts (thanks, Brinke).
Hockey News: Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford can’t seem to keep track of any equipment. First his Stadium Series mask was stolen or lost and now his white leg pads have gone missing, which he and the team believe were stolen from Soldier Field on Saturday night (thanks, Phil).
Soccer News: Here is a complete look at the United States’ World Cup 2014 kits. … Not to be outdone, Honduras released a dramatic animated video of their World Cup threads. … MLS round-up: The LA Galaxy unveiled their new primary kit for the 2014 season. … The Houston Dynamo revealed their secondary kits for the upcoming season. … The Sounders FC introduced a new third uniform called Pitch Black. … And here is a look at the second and third kits from the Portland Timbers.
Grab Bag: Looks like the Charlotte Bobcats were once considering a Carolina blue alternate uni (from Thomas Fiers). … “When I saw the new Reebok logo I knew I had seen that logo somewhere else before,” says Steven Zerhusen. “Skateboard shoe company Axion may be what I was remembering.” … Are the Raptors returning to purple in their color scheme? … Oscar hangover: Here is an infographic of every dress worn by Best Actress Academy Award Winners from 1929 to 2013. … The police officers in Granada have their Twitter handle on their uniforms (from Mark Coale). … This is pretty great: Bob Hope as a golf cart (from Robert Ullman). … Extremely thoughtful reader Eric Westover has found the perfect house for Paul to move to. Kickstarter campaign is forthcoming.
A different sort of crazy day: Due to a doctor’s appointment, an ESPN administrative appointment, and some other stuff, I’m going to be off the grid for a big chunk of today, starting at about 11:30am. So I’d appreciate it if all the Big Four sports teams could kindly refrain from staging any unannounced unveilings. Thanks.