Singing safety Jermaine Phillips worked the crowd at the North Shore Retirement Home
Jermaine Phillips may not have the silky smoothness of Perry Como singing Christmas carols. Phillips may not even have the scratchy, warbling voice of a young Bob Dylan. In fact, the second-year safety from Georgia may not possess any distinguishable vocal talents whatsoever, but he does have one major skill as a performer: he knows how to play to the crowd.
On Monday at the North Shore Retirement Home, the Tampa Bay Buccaneer safety, along with teammates and backup singers Michael Brown, Ryan Nece and Dewayne White, put on quite a show for the Home's residents. As Brown, Nece and White stood in front of the Christmas tree, Phillips moved around the room and crooned Christmas ballads to unsuspecting female seniors. The ladies loved it and several of the gentleman even got a kick out of watching the 24-year old entertain the 30 seniors in attendance.
"It was a lot of fun," said Phillips. "It's great to put some smiles on some faces and get out here and have a good time."
While Phillips was distracting the crowd away from the groups singing ability with his antics (definitely a good thing), White admitted the group didn't really rehearse their numbers beforehand, so it was a definitely a good thing that Phillips was able to use his on-stage antics to draw attention away from the singing.
"I think next year we need to get together and work on that a little bit," said White. "It was a little bit bad. We missed some words and it wasn't good."
White, a rookie defensive end, said he would definitely return for another engagement next year, and judging from the response, they will be welcomed back with open arms (if plugged ears).
"It was incredible," said Barry Foster, the Recreation Director at North Shore. "Everyone enjoyed it immensely. Just to see the smiles on the faces and to know that we have Bucs here in our building who took time out of their schedule to come here and sing, is just absolutely incredible and we're grateful."
After the not-quite-virtuoso performance, the quartet of Buccaneers distributed Super Bowl XXXVII posters, signed autographs and enjoyed the company of the residents. Phillips, the group's de facto lead singer, even met one of the Buccaneers oldest fans in 103-year old Loretta McLennon.
While Loretta wasn't able to make it to the singing (probably a good thing), she did have the opportunity to talk football with Phillips, which she gladly seized, using the time to outline what she liked and didn't like about the team.
"It's always fun to meet fans like her," said Phillips. "While Coach Gruden and some of the guys may not like what she had to say, she is a huge Bucs fan and I just hope we gave her a Christmas to remember."
Visit to All Children's Hospital
Before Phillips' singing group took the stage at North Shore, the players got into the holiday spirit by visiting the patients at All Children's Hospital.
At All Children's, the Buccaneers split into two groups and visited the children's rooms to distribute posters, take Polaroid photos and sign autographs. It was an eventful day made worthwhile by the brilliantly smiling faces of the children as they received their surprise visitors.
The players' visit was even enough to take the patients' attention away from such shows as "Dora the Explorer" and "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas." The Bucs played the role of Santa Claus by asking what the kids would like for Christmas, and the answers to the question, from PlayStation 2 to Bob the Builder, varied as much as the patient's ages, 15 months to 17 years.
All in all it was a fun day at the hospital and the nursing home and one that Nece and Phillips are looking to make an annual adventure.
"It's another opportunity to give back," said Nece. "Jermaine Phillips and I did this last year and really enjoyed ourselves and enjoyed our time with the kids. We realized we put smiles on the faces of the kids and we want to continue that. We're out here again to spread a little joy, pass out some posters, sign some autographs and just have fun with the kids."