The expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers made their debut in the Big Sombrero — Tampa Stadium — on August 21, 1976, for a preseason game against the Miami Dolphins.
A capacity crowd of 71,718 watched the Bucs fall to the Dolphins 28-21. If only Tampa Bay’s regular season contests would be that close. The overmatched Bucs lost all 14 games of their inaugural season, getting outscored 412-125. But a solid foundation was built, especially on defense with the likes of Lee Roy Selmon, Dewey Selmon and Richard Wood. Just three years later Tampa Stadium would host the NFC Championship Game.
The Bucs commissioned longtime Tampa Tribune cartoonist Lamar Sparkman to design this game program cover, which includes owner Hugh Culverhouse, general manager Ron Wolf and head coach John McKay. Sparkman also designed the Buccaneers’ original logo (below). The Tampa Bay History Center showcased Sparkman’s work in a recent exhibit.