Buccaneers unveil new helmet, logo for 2014

The new Buccaneers helmet (left) has a sleeker and larger logo design than the old one (right).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers/USA TODAY Sports

TAMPA, Fla. — The look is sleeker, meaner, even sharper. And it will usher in a new Tampa Bay Buccaneers era.

The Bucs’ new look is here, as revealed on the NFL Network on Thursday night. The makeover was largely unknown until franchise great and Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp tweeted Tuesday that Tampa Bay would sport a new helmet in time for coach Lovie Smith’s first season.

Sapp and current Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, a two-time Pro Bowl player, made the announcement.

Overall, the changes appear subtle. The "skull and swords" remain central to the appearance. However, the appearance is cleaner than its predecessor. The helmet includes a chrome facemask, which is a nice touch. The Bucs also will use a new "ship" secondary mark.

The team’s release describes the look this way: "The enhanced logo still features the team’s iconic, windswept red battle flag, while sporting a more menacing skull positioned over crossed swords and a football. The helmet retains its trademark pewter color and includes a larger logo on each side along with a new chrome facemask. Another element unique to the Buccaneers will be a hand-painted shading technique using a darker pewter color that runs vertically from the front of the helmet to the crown and along the earholes, providing a customized look and feel."

"This is an exciting day for the entire Buccaneers organization as we begin the process of introducing our new look by revealing an enhanced logo and new helmet design," Bucs co-chairman Edward Glazer said in the release. "The enhanced logo is much larger and portrays a more intimidating presence, while the chrome facemask is the first used by an NFL team. This is the first alteration to our logo and helmet since the previous re-design 17 years ago and we believe it sets the stage for our transition into this new, exciting era of Buccaneers football."

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The Bucs’ full uniform ensemble will be revealed at a news conference at 2 p.m. March 5 at One Buc Place.

This is the third logo change in Bucs’ history. The "Bucco Bruce" design was used from 1976 to 1996. From 1997 to last season, the most-recent pewter-and-red concept was present during some of the franchise’s best days: seven playoff appearances, four division titles and a Super Bowl XXXVII title.

The branding change is well-timed, though. The Bucs haven’t reached the postseason since the 2007 campaign, and they have finished with losing records in four of the past five years.

Last season, in particular, was a mess. It included an eight-game losing streak to start, a MRSA outbreak that affected three players as well as the firings of coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik.

Not a bad time to take a step into the future.

Now, a logo change is part of the makeover.

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.