Poor Bucco Bruce. The original Tampa Bay Buccaneers logo and uniforms, which have been brought back once a year at Raymond James Stadium since 2009, won’t be making their annual appearance this season.
The Bucs (0-2) were slated to wear their “Creamsicle” throwbacks against the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 29 as part of Tampa Bay’s team’s Hispanic Heritage celebration week—but thanks to new NFL guidelines, that won’t be happening in 2013, according to USA Today.
The problem actually isn’t the uniforms—Orange Glaze jerseys with red and white trim, along with white pants—but with the helmet, and not because of the winking pirate on the sides, either.
According to a new NFL recommendation, players are only allowed to wear one helmet per season, according to the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee and the Player Safety Advisory Panel. The thought process is that one helmet, properly sized and fitted, would provide for fewer concussions and other contact-related head injuries.
“While we regret that our players will not be able to don the ‘Bucco Bruce’ helmet and traditional orange, red and white uniforms, there simply was no acceptable way to meet the requirements of the new policy while staying true to the spirit of our throwback theme,” said Buccaneers Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford on the team’s website. “We will continue to explore options with the league office for bringing back this fan favorite in future seasons.”
Painting the Bucs’ current pewter helmet white wouldn’t work or probably even look good. The Chicago Bears wore a throwback uniform last week at home against the Minnesota Vikings but simply removed the stylized “C” logo from the sides of their regular helmets. The Buffalo Bills did the same thing in their home game against the Carolina Panthers, swapping out the current blue buffalo logo for a retro red one on their normal white shells.
According to the Tampa Tribune, the league’s memo about one helmet per player per season went out in August, after the Bucs announced their annual throwback-uniform day a month prior.
No word yet on what the Atlanta Falcons (red instead of black), Washington Redskins (yellow/burgundy) or New England Patriots (white/silver) will do with their recently worn throwback uniforms that feature differently colored helmets from their normal get-ups.
The TBO.com article also stated that the league recently reached a $765 million settlement regarding concussion-related brain injuries among its 18,000 retired players. The NFL also agreed to compensate victims, pay for medical examinations and underwrite research.
Other proactive steps made in preventing head injuries have been fines and suspensions for helmet-to-helmet hits, including the recent one-game suspension of Bucs safety Dashon Goldson for his hit on New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles in a loss on Sunday. The suspension was rescinded, but Goldson has still been fined $100,000, according to ESPN.com.
The ruling makes some sense—it’s a violent game, obviously, and players have been getting injured since the first ball was kicked off in the days of leather (or no) helmets. But wouldn’t wearing different helmets during the season (properly fitted, of course) make for less wear and tear than using just one helmet per year, considering how physical the modern game is?
Granted, players wore just one lid a year in the earlier days of the NFL and AFL—yet if you look at some of the examples from then now resting in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, they’re actually cracked or otherwise noticeably damaged, such as Billy Shaw's Bills helmet from the 1960s, according to the Hall's web site.
Helmet technology has gotten markedly better since then, and although no helmet can ever be 100 percent concussion proof, it just sounds like the NFL is reactively backpedaling faster than a safety in a Cover 2 scheme about what might possibly happen.
Regardless, for the first time since 2008, Bucco Bruce will not be seen on the field in Florida.
Many would argue to just leave him and the former Florida Orange duds in the past, as they signify some of the lowest points in team history, particularly the franchise’s 0-26 expansion start in 1976 and 1977. Of course, the Bucs also made it to the 1979 NFC Championship game wearing those same threads, so some good things did happen in those old orange days.
The recommendation isn’t expected to filter down to the NCAA level, however—so look for Oregon to keep its 500 or so helmet designs.