Sports fans are traditionalists by nature. Retirement to Florida, for instance, doesn’t diminish the Yankees ardor for tens of thousands of former Big Apple dwellers. Red Sox Nation is the whole country wide, and Notre Dame football fans are legion across the globe. None of those three illustrious ballclubs would consider changing a uniform that is inseparable from their identities. Yankee pinstripes won’t go out of style and Notre Dame helmets, which have real gold in them, won’t anytime soon be covered in a new logo.
But what if you’re the Tampa Bay Buccaneers–a successful franchise (2002 Super Bowl champs) that was nevertheless still in short pants when the legends were stomping around the Bronx, Fenway and South Bend? (Tampa Bay entered the NFL in 1976–around the time Joe Montana quarterbacked the Irish and Reggie Jackson was stirring the drink in pinstripes.) If you’re Tampa Bay you don’t have a legend to protect, so you look to the future. So the Bucs went to Nike to reinvent themselves. Todd Van Horne, Nike’s creative director for football, responded with a new uniform that “defines the Buccaneer as a modern superhero for the future.” Superhero, not superstar. That’s called upping the ante. If the change works–and the clothes make the man, as they say–expect Van Horne to be awfully busy making other teams into superheroes. It should be easy to measure. Last year’s Buccaneers went 4-12.