Has any jersey made a bigger comeback than the orange and white creamsicles worn by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of yore?
Warren Sapp mocked those uniforms. John Lynch, too.
The Bucs’ first uniforms used to represent everything that was wrong with the franchise: 0-26, Leeman Bennett, Hugh Culverhouse, Ray Perkins. Bad coaches Bad draft picks. Bad offense. Bad defense.
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Then, during one magical night in San Diego when the Bucs rolled over the Oakland Raiders for the Super Bowl title, all was forgiven.
Creamsicles popped up at Raymond James Stadium on game day. Lee Roy Selmon throwbacks were in vogue.
Selmon, himself, even talked about the good times had during that winless 1976 season and the next year that began with 12 straight losses.
Bucco Bruce was cool.
Then came the news the Bucs would dust off the 1976 jerseys when they honored Selmon as the first name to appear in the stadium’s ring of honor. They would play the Green Bay Packers that afternoon.
The old Bay of Pigs rivalry.
It was a perfect fit — bad uniforms for a bad team. Whose idea was this?
But something funny happened on the way to 0-16. The Bucs won.
The defense made big plays. Special teams came up big.
Rookie quarterback Josh Freeman, making the first start of his career, led a fourth quarter comeback. He threw the winning touchdown pass on a fourth down play.
The cannons fired. The stadium rocked.
First year head coach Raheem Morris won his first game.
Let’s not underestimate the role Bucco Bruce played in the Bucs’ first win since Nov. 30, 2008.
Yes, the Packers didn’t exactly play inspired football, and maybe the Bucs were due for a win.
But walking into that locker room Sunday morning and seeing the orange jerseys and the white helmets had to have some effect on the Bucs, if anything because they represented a disassociation from the immediate past.
It was a long time since the Bucs won while wearing the pewter and red, 11 games to be exact.
During that span, the Bucs blew a division title and a spot in the playoffs, lost Monte Kiffin then Jon Gruden, said good-bye to Derrick Brooks, hired and fired an offensive coordinator, used three field goal kickers and lost their first seven games of 2009. Pewter and red meant failure to this bunch of Bucs.
The creamsicles came after the bye week and greeted a new quarterback and represented a fresh start.
Can the Bucs wear them every Sunday?
They were once the color of losing.
Now, they are the color of hope.