(From left) Santiago, Martin and Bill Gramatica urged Tampa Bay Mutiny fans to bring clothing and canned food donations in exchange for autographs Saturday night
With one brother already a Pro Bowl placekicker in the NFL, another about to enter the league and a third kicking off his college career at the local university, the Gramaticas are certainly making a name for themselves in the Tampa Bay area.
At least, that's what they were banking on Saturday night.
And it appears they were right. As Martin, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' accomplished kicker, Bill, the Arizona Cardinals' new field goal man, and Santiago, the University of South Florida freshman, sat at a table outside the South End Zone of Raymond James Stadium, a long line snaked out of the accompanying tent and onto the boardwalk.
Each person in line was there to give and receive.
The notion was simple. On June 23, an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale rocked southern Peru, killing at least 50 and affecting hundreds of thousands more. The Gramaticas, whose family hails from Argentina, Peru's neighbor to the South, were eager to provide help of any kind. The family hit upon the idea of mobilizing support in the Bay area community using the Gramaticas' newfound notoriety.
"Any time you can help out it's a great feeling," said Bill, who was drafted in the fourth round by Arizona last April. "We had the opportunity to use the Gramatica name in the community to help out. A few years ago during the Los Angeles earthquake we helped out a little bit, but it wasn't the same because we couldn't use our name. Now, we can get all of these people together and help out as much as we can."
And for bigger soccer fans like the Gramaticas, the perfect venue was a Major League Soccer match at Raymond James Stadium featuring the Tampa Bay Mutiny. The Mutiny was scheduled to play the Colorado Rapids at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night, and Martin, Bill and Santiago were camped out in the South End Zone for nearly two hours prior to the opening whistle.
"This was actually my parents' idea," said Martin. "We were trying to figure out how we could help, and we can't really fly down there right now because we have (training) camp coming up. We figured if we gave this thing some advance notice, people would show up because it's a great opportunity to come watch the soccer game and get an autograph and drop off some goods."
Each person that brought a donation received an autograph from each of the Gramaticas. Martin, who has broken the Buccaneers' scoring record twice in two NFL seasons, distributed stacks of action photos with his John Hancock. All three brothers constantly offered thanks to the fans bearing sacks of clothing and canned goods.
All three Gramaticas were thrilled at the large turnout at their tent, as well as the rapidly filling containers of goods.
"We hoped to get as much clothing and goods as we could, so seeing all of the people that are here is nice," said Santiago. "We're excited."
Added Bill: "We have everything we want here in the states, but people in South America don't have the resources to help as much as we can. I know it's not enough, but it's a good start."