For most supporters of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Raymond James Stadium is a relatively short trip from their homes on Sunday afternoons.
Fans attending this Sunday's game, however, should prepare themselves for a much longer journey. Chronologically, at least.
For just the second time in team history, the Buccaneers will take their fans on a voyage through time with their much-anticipated 2010 Throwback Game. With long-time rival Atlanta in town for a game with serious playoff implications, Tampa Bay players will once again don the brilliant orange jerseys that were reintroduced into the franchise's wardrobe last year.
But it won't just be the players that will get a Throwback makeover. Fans who attended last year's inaugural Throwback Game know this: No effort was spared to make the entire game-day experience a visual trip back to the franchise's earliest days. The Buccaneers have pursued the same goal in 2010, only more completely.
For one day, the Buccaneers are trading in their popular Buccaneer Red, pewter and black color scheme for their original spectrum of Florida Orange, red and white, and they are pulling out all the stops. Essentially, anything that can be changed at Raymond James Stadium to fit in with the day's theme – from the façade to the field to the BucVision graphs – has been changed.
At last year's Throwback Game, Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon was inducted as the inaugural member into the Buccaneers' new Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium. He remembers being amazed by what he saw all around him, as he joined teammates from the 1979 division champion team on the field.
"All the [former] players couldn't believe they went to that much effort to make everything as authentic as it was," said Selmon. "We really felt like we were back in 1979."
Fans, of course, are coming to see their modern players decked out in the uniforms replicated in minute detail from what the team wore in its inaugural 1976 season, and they won't be disappointed. Last year, the beautiful orange jerseys – which looked awfully good in action as the Buccaneers beat the playoff-bound Green Bay Packers, 38-28 – was matched by a sea of orange in the stands as fans got into the spirit of the day. Those who wish to add to their own throwback wardrobe on Sunday will find attractive orange and white merchandise on sale at the stadium.
The famous Buccaneers Cheerleaders will recall their swash-buc-ling earlier days, too, with new uniforms based on looks from their historical archives. Even the team mascot will be one from the ages on Sunday, as Captain Fear gets a day off to allow a reappearance from Bucco Bruce.
The players, cheerleaders and mascot will romp in an environment that will be completely transformed for the Throwback experience. The Buccaneers consulted their historical photo archives to recreate the playing field's 1976 look. The research was amazingly thorough, right down to identifying the exact paint color needed to achieve the same look from 35 years ago.
As the eye moves upward from the field, fans will find the Florida Orange, red and white everywhere. The stadium's extensive array of bunting, usually swathing the stadium in pewter, black and red, has been completely replaced to reflect the colors of the day, as have hundreds of areas throughout the arena. At the very top of the stadium, where fans are used to finding the blazing red Battle Flags all around the crown they will get the same blast of orange every time the Buccaneers score.
Even the stadium's modern videoboards will get into the back-to-the-past fun, avoiding any jarring anachronisms by replacing its existing features with an orange-themed batch. Over 300 game-day video graphics were altered just to make BucVision an exciting part of the Throwback experience.
Last year, the Buccaneers launched their current turnaround with that rousing win over Green Bay, in the process making orange vogue again in the Bay area. Franchise quarterback Josh Freeman got his first career start that day, and his first win, as did Head Coach Raheem Morris. The Bucs responded to the emotions of the afternoon with a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback, then raved afterward about the experience of playing in the orange uniforms and the transformed stadium.
As such, this year's Throwback sequel has been eagerly anticipated by every man in the Buccaneers' locker room, as surely it has been by fans throughout the Bay area and the nation. And if you doubt how much the Buccaneers are looking forward to playing in Florida Orange again this year, just wait until the last player runs out of the tunnel during pregame introductions. He'll be carrying something eye-catching and motivational, and here's a hint: It won't be red.