The Bucs' Super Bowl Championship hats in 2003 played off the game's blue-and-yellow logo
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came back from Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego in January of 2003, they sported championship hats and t-shirts in a blue-and-yellow motif. The gear's look was an offshoot of that year's Super Bowl logo, which used a lighthouse and wave patterns to evoke San Diego's seaside setting and naval history.
From now on, Super Bowl-winning teams can expect to be wearing an image of the same thing they just finished fighting for: the Lombardi Trophy.
Beginning with Super Bowl XLV in Dallas next year, the NFL will follow a new logo convention that will emphasize the game's iconic trophy. The XLV logo was unveiled last week during the lead-up to Super Bowl XLIV and it features a large silver Lombardi Trophy rising off a base of the words "Super Bowl" and the XLV numerals. Flanking the trophy is an image of the new Cowboys Stadium, where the game will be played.
Each year, the stadium site will be worked into the logo, or at least the regional version of the logo. The NFL says each Super Bowl will also have a national logo without the stadium. The XLVI logo will feature Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium.
As was the case in San Diego, Super Bowl logos of the past have occasionally tried to capture some of the flavor of the hosting city or region. The logo for Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans, for instance, has a decidedly Mardi Gras feel to it, while Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta bore a logo with a peach at its center.
A good number of the logos, however, simply attempted to use the Roman numerals and the words Super Bowl in some clean and powerful fashion. This year's big game cleverly bent the XLIV numerals at the center to create a pair of goal posts with a football centered in the middle.
All four Super Bowls previously held in Tampa featured clean logos without any local influence. The last of those four was just a year ago, Super Bowl XLIII, and it simply placed a blue Super Bowl XLIII text over a light green slice of football field.
However, it appears as if the distinctive Raymond James Stadium will be included in the logo the next time Tampa is chosen as the host city. The next Super Bowl for which a site has not yet been chosen - after the coming games in Dallas, Indianapolis and New Orleans - is number XLVIII in February of 2014. Tampa is among the cities bidding to host that game, along with East Rutherford, New Jersey; Glendale, Arizona; Houston; and Miami.
The Answer Man Cometh!
No, he's not ignoring you.
Not yet, at least.
Two weeks ago, the Buccaneers.com Answer Man announced his return from a three-year hiatus and opened up a mailbox link for the first time since 2007. Since then, hundreds of questions have poured in for the team's resident expert on team trivia, Buc history, the NFL rulebook and more.
If you're one of the many who has sent a question to the Answer Man since that team, please don't fret. A.M. has been slowly easing his way back into the mailbag Q&A game, and expects to have a lengthy column on Buccaneers.com by the end of the week. Just to prove he hasn't been slacking off the last two weeks, here's a preview of the first column, answering one of your questions:
Andrew James of Atlanta asks:
Based on their free agent losses before the start of the 2009 season, are the Bucs in line to be granted any compensatory draft picks in the 2010 NFL Draft, adding to the 10 they currently possess?
Answer Man: I chose your question for this preview, Andrew, not only because it is an interesting and relevant topic and a well-worded question, but because it allows me to touch on a procedural matter I'm going to have to emphasize again at the end of the week.
Listen, the Bucs may have brought me back, but they didn't exactly give me a corner office next to Coach Morris, if you know what I mean. The new One Buc Place is a magnificent facility, but I have a sneaking suspicion that my new "office" used to be a supply closet. A small supply closet. Door, desk, laptop, picture of the Answer Wife and kids...that's about all that fits in here, besides my mailbag. When that thing fills up, it can be difficult to get in and out of here.
So to save everyone time and to keep my mailbag from trapping me in here without food or drink, I must repeat that there are certain sorts of questions I am not authorized to answer. The most common one, and one that I still expect to see over and over, is some variation on, "Who will the Buccaneers draft with their first pick this year?" Yes, I have connections around here, but just between you and me, I haven't infiltrated the inner loop far enough to have somebody reveal to me that huge of a secret. And if they DID tell me, they would only do so knowing that I wouldn't reveal it.
So, questions such as those, or do I think any specific players or coaches should come and go won't make it into the column. Sorry. But I can answer draft-related questions like the one Andrew sent in, and now I will do just that.
Andrew, you seem to have a good grasp on how the system works, so I'm guessing you know that the actual and specific answer to this question won't be known until some time in late March, when the league announces all of the compensatory picks. What I believe you're asking me is my guess of what the Buccaneers can expect to get out of that process.
For those who don't already have a good grasp on this topic, the NFL awards a total of 32 compensatory draft picks every year to some - but never all - of the 32 teams. The reason that all 32 teams don't get compensatory picks is because the system is designed to compensate teams that had net losses in unrestricted free agency the year before. And that is a zero-sum game among the 32 teams; that is, a gain by one team in free agency is a corresponding loss by another. Teams that finish with a net gain in free agency will not receive draft-pick compensation the next year. Teams that finish with a net loss will, and how many and how high those picks are will depend on how deep that net loss was.
The compensatory picks are placed at the end of each round, beginning with the end of the third round, though picks that high are infrequent. More commonly, teams will receive a handful of picks that fall at the end of the sixth and seventh rounds. Last year, for instance, there were only four compensatory picks placed at the end of Round Three, but 15 were tacked on to Round Seven.
The reason that I cannot give Andrew an exact answer to his question is that the NFL Management Council determines the compensatory picks based on a complicated formula that takes into account salary, playing time and postseason honors for the players who came and went to arrive at a net gain or loss in player value for each team. In addition, not every free agent lost or signed by a club is covered by the formula. Those outside of the Management Council are not privy to the exact formula.
However, we can examine the players that came and went last year and get a good idea of what to expect. The short answer: If the Buccaneers do get any piece of the compensatory pick action this year, it's not likely to be a very big one.
The Buccaneers signed four unrestricted free agents who would count in the formula last year: linebacker Angelo Crowell, quarterback Byron Leftwich, kicker Mike Nugent and running back Derrick Ward. The Bucs lost three players who would count in the formula: cornerback Phillip Buchanon, quarterback Jeff Garcia and defensive tackle Jovan Haye.
While the Buccaneers do not, as a policy, discuss or reveal the contract terms of their players, I can tell you that, salary-wise, the net gain or loss from those seven players is almost nothing.
None of those seven players were likely to figure into any postseason awards. For the Buccaneers, Leftwich started three games and was on the active roster for most of the year, and Ward played quite a bit, though perhaps a bit less than one might have expected at the beginning of the year. Crowell spent the year on injured reserve and Nugent was released just four games into the season.
Garcia was cut by Oakland and landed in Philadelphia for just two weeks, with his only action being a trio of kneel-downs at the end of one contest. Haye did play in and start 15 games for Tennessee, but had just 32 tackles and half a sack. Buchanon played in 13 games and started 11 for Detroit, recording 43 tackles, one sack and no interceptions.
Overall, there isn't much going on on either side of the ledger for the Bucs, so they aren't likely to ring any lucrative bells in the Management Council's formula. Now, there are occasionally a few extra picks awarded that are not based on net free agency losses so that the league can keep the total number of compensatory picks at 32. Last year, for instance, the formula returned just 30 picks, so the league awarded one each to Detroit and Kansas City at the end of the seventh round based on that year's draft order. Since the Bucs are slated to pick third this year, they could conceivably be in line for such a pick if the formula deems them necessary.
I hope that answers your question, Andrew. For the rest of you, I'll be back with more answers at the end of the week.
The South Rules
With their thrilling 31-17 victory over Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday, the New Orleans Saints struck a blow for the NFC, which had played the weaker cousin to the AFC for most of the past decade.
Until Tracy Porter's pick-six and a goal-line stand in the closing minutes sealed the first championship for the Saints franchise, the AFC had won seven of the nine Super Bowls belonging to the Aughts. The Buccaneers were won of the two teams to break up that AFC run, defeating Oakland, 48-21, in Super Bowl XXXVII following the 2002 season. The New York Giants got the NFC's other win with their upset of the previously undefeated New England Patriots after the 2007 campaign.
What's more, the Saints' victory strengthens the claim of the NFC South as the league's most competitive and accomplished division since the NFL was realigned into eight divisions in 2002. Coupled with Tampa Bay's victory seven years ago, New Orleans' breakthrough on Sunday made the NFC South the first of those eight divisions to have two different teams take home the title.
The AFC East and AFC North have two titles each since realignment, but that was the work of New England on two occasions for the former division and Pittsburgh twice for the latter. The AFC South (Indianapolis after the 2006 season) and NFC East (the Giants) have one each since realignment.
The NFC South is also one of only three divisions that have seen all four of their teams win the division title since realignment, joining the NFC West (Arizona, St. Louis, San Francisco and Seattle) and the AFC West (Denver, Kansas City, Oakland, San Diego) in that regard.
Once in the playoffs, the NFC South has had the most success, by several measures. Six of the 16 participants in the eight conference title games since realignment have come from the South, the best of any of the eight divisions in their respective conferences. The AFC East, largely due to New England, is second on that list with five conference championship game appearances since realignment. The NFC South is also tied with the AFC East for most Super Bowl appearances, with three each.