Can uniform makeover change a team's fortunes?

Every team that changes its uniform is ultimately hoping for the Bucs Effect.

On April 9, 1997, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hit the reboot button. After years of losing, new owner Malcolm Glazer decided his team needed a fresh, more intimidating image. That meant curtains for the garish creamsicle orange uniforms and caddish Bucco Bruce, whose visage had adorned the team's helmets since the franchise's start two decades earlier. The new uniforms featured red, black and pewter -- the pewter thing blew a lot of people's minds at the time -- and, yes, a new logo: red wind-whipped flag featuring a pirate skull flanked by crossed swords.

For one of the NFL's most hapless franchises, it was a radical departure designed to jumpstart a new, hopefully far more successful, era. Bucco Bruce had to die so that the Buccaneers may live.

"I didn't know his name," former Bucs coach John McKay said at a ceremony announcing the uniform change. "I thought it was [1930s-40s film star] Errol Flynn all those years. But if he was the guy in charge of losing, let's get rid of him."

At the time, McKay was the Bucs' all-time winningest coach. Career record: 44-88-1.

With an exciting new look, a rising young defense and a promising head coach named Tony Dungy, the Bucs started the 1997 season with five consecutive wins. They finished 10-6 and beat the Lions in the Wild Card Round before falling to the Packers in the divisional playoffs. In five years, the Bucs would be celebrating with the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl XXXVII.

This week, the Titansunveiled an update on their uniforms -- we'll see if it intersects with a change in their own fortunes. Out of curiosity, I dug through the last 25 years of significant uniform changes to see how the teams did post-makeover. Can a uniform alteration change fortunes?


Cleveland Browns, 2015

Caught up in the LeBron-driven Cleveland Pride movement of the day, the Browns unveiled altered uniforms that made it alarmingly clear they play in the major metropolis located off Lake Erie. Unfortunately, the Brownies have gone 1-31 in this getup, including last season's historic 0-16 campaign. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised the franchise is already plotting another makeover as soon as it's allowed.

The rebuild never ends in Cleveland.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2014

As detailed above, the Bucs' first uniform update was a smashing success. Who could blame them for giving it another try once the new-car smell of the '90s reboot wore off? Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, there has been no Bucs Effect for the Bucs the second time around. They went 2-14 in the first season after the debut of the "alarm clock" uniform. Overall, the Bucs are 22-42 since the change. They were fun on "Hard Knocks," at least.

Summon Bucco Bruce from the bottom of the sea! Actually, Zombie Bucco Bruce might actually look kind of badass. Hmmmmm.

Miami Dolphins, 2013

The Dolphins altered their logo and made some subtle color changes ahead of the 2013 season. The team went 8-8 the following season. And 8-8 the season after that. You know, if you told me the Dolphins have gone 8-8 every season since Dan Marino retired, I'd believe it for a second.

In truth, Miami has had just one winning season in the five years since the alteration. Surprise: More change is reportedly on the way.

Jacksonville Jaguars, 2013

At the time of the unveiling Jaguars owner Shad Khan joked, "There's no reason not to win now. We can't blame the uniforms."

Head coach Gus Bradley was all in: "I look at the jerseys and I think (they're) awesome."

Less awesome: Bradley went 14-48 over the next three-plus seasons before being fired. The Jaguars are good now, but another uniform change is on the way. Hope you enjoyed the two-toned helmets while they lasted.

Seattle Seahawks, 2012

Man, this new uniforms, new team theory really needs a W. Thank God we can fall back on the Seattle Seahawks. In 2012, the Seahawks took the NFL's new mega-deal with Nike as an opportunity to make significant changes to their look. The new image was almost universally hailed for its modern feel -- and it just so happened to coincide with the golden age of Seahawks football.

The Seahawks went 4-12, 5-11, 7-9, 7-9 in the four years before their new duds. In fairness, the first 7-9 was good enough to win the NFC West (still insane) and cause a BeastQuake. But the Seahawks truly took off starting in 2012, ripping off five consecutive double-digit win seasons, including two Super Bowl berths and one championship.

Gotta be the unis!

A few more examples of new uniforms followed by instant success:

-- In 1999, the Giants changed their helmet, reverting back to their "NY" logo. They went to the Super Bowl in the 2000 season.

-- In 1999, the Ravens redesigned their helmets, replacing the soccer-style crest with the Ravens logo we know today. They defeated the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.

-- In 1998, the New York Jets went back to the future, replacing the post-Namath uniforms look we saw from 1976 to 1997. They then won their first AFC East title and advanced to the AFC Championship Game in the 1998 season.

-- In 1997, the Broncos completely overhauled their logo and uniform. They won back-to-back Super Bowls in the new duds. The difference between the Bucs and the Broncos? Denver was 13-3 in the year before they changed their look.

So, can a change in uniform really change a team's fortunes? Well ... sometimes ... sometimes it seems to help. Maybe. CASE CLOSED.

Dan Hanzus writes for and hosts the Around The NFL Podcast. Follow him on Twitter.

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