A new NFL season is upon us, which means there are fresh starts galore around the league. New looks can be included in those fresh starts, as evidenced by the rebranding that took place outside of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa this week.
The Buccaneers are ditching their “Siege the Day” slogan this year in favor of two new ones. “Raise the Flags” appears to be the offensive-themed slogan, while “Wreak Havoc” plays off the team’s new-look defense. These new marketing mantras might take some time to get used to, but they both seem to be much more well-received than “Siege the Day” was.
Where there might be more of a discussion is with the players that are featured outside of the stadium. Last year, Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander shared one corner, while Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson shared another. The other two were occupied by Jameis Winston and Gerald McCoy. This year, the team decided to go with just one player on each, so some interesting decisions had to be made.
Ultimately, the four players that made the cut were Lavonte David, Cameron Brate, Mike Evans and Gerald McCoy. Let’s evaluate those choices and see who was left off. Did the Bucs get it right?
David has been a top player on the Tampa Bay defense since he was drafted in 2012, putting up 100-plus tackles in five of his six seasons. He is all over the field week in and week out for the Bucs. His play-making ability is just one of the things that makes him a fan favorite, while his veteran status gives him some extra support for these types of things. There can’t be much of an argument against David being featured outside of Ray Jay this year.
Along with David, Brate was one of the first murals to go up on the stadium this week. Brate’s inclusion seemed to hint that suspended quarterback Jameis Winston would not be one of the players featured on a mural. That was quickly confirmed by Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. The fourth-year tight end has come on strong in the last two years as one of the top receiving options on the roster. This past March, he agreed to a six-year contract with the team. Without Winston, Brate makes perfectly fine sense as one of the faces of the offense, along with the next guy featured.
One of the more obvious choices for a mural of his own is Evans, who is set to break every Bucs receiving record sooner rather than later. The fifth-year receiver ranks third in franchise history for receptions (309), third in receiving yards (4,579) and second in touchdown catches (32). He will continue to be a major presence in the Bucs’ young core for the next several years after signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal this offseason. An argument could be made that Evans should be the true face of the organization at this point.
McCoy is heading into his ninth season with Tampa Bay, having been an extremely productive part of the team on and off the field the whole time. He is one of the most well-known Buccaneer players around the league, and for good reason. His talent is undeniable and his work in the community is outstanding. The veteran out of Oklahoma is somehow underappreciated and overly-criticized by some fans, but he is by far the most deserving of a spot outside of Raymond James Stadium.
Key Players Omitted
This omission is tough, considering Alexander’s role as a playmaker and leader on the Buccaneer defense. He has been a consistent force since being drafted in 2015 while also putting himself in position to be a leader of the team. For fans, he has become one of the more easily-recognizable players on the roster and certainly a favorite. It seems like the Bucs wanted to split the solo murals evenly between offensive and defensive players, which unfortunately left the “Li-Ti-Rilla” off. Without keeping things even, one would think that Alexander would have taken the place of Brate.
This is the big one, as the Bucs left their quarterback off of the stadium for first time since his rookie year. Winston is suspended for the first three games of this season after an NFL investigation into the alleged groping incident involving an Uber driver that occurred back in 2016. The team didn’t shy away from making the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, who was already polarizing in college, the face of the franchise when it drafted him. But given the recent developments, leaving him out of major promotional materials seems like the right move right now. The Bucs can still be behind Winston as their quarterback without having him on the stadium. Plus, this shows No. 3 that being the face of the franchise is a privilege that he has to earn back.