Bucs players tour MacDill Air Force Base to kick off Salute to Service Week.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicked off its Salute to Service week with a visit to MacDill Air Force Base on Tuesday. Players including Cameron Brate, Alan Cross, Keith Tandy, Ryan Griffin, DeSean Jackson, Clinton McDonald, Patrick Murray, Garrison Sanborn and Evan Smith gathered with military men and women, in partnership with USAA, for the annual trip to the home of our nation's heroes.
A full day awaited the squad as they first arrived at the base exchange store to meet with military families for an autograph session. Later, the team toured the Joint Communications Support Center to learn of the inner workings of the specialty and engage in a fun Q&A with service members stationed in Qatar, Iraq and Germany. The conversation ranged from family to workout regimens.
Clinton McDonald, the team's 2017 Salute to Service nominee reflected on the tour and why it's important for him to make the annual trip. "Military means so much because these are our defenders," said McDonald. "We study film and learn about our opponents before a game and in a sense, this is what they are doing out here."
During the base visit, the players also toured D cells and met the personnel responsible for building each one around the world. Led by U.S. Air Force Major Chris Russell, the group tried on equipment, tested night vison goggles and learned more about the day to day life of service men and women during deployment. "We're really excited for the opportunity for the Buccaneers to visit and see what we do," said Major Russell. "It's pretty surreal to see them in awe of the things we have going on in our lives; it's phenomenal and feels good."
Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson, whose cousin, Jimmy Jackson, was recently among the honorees recognized during the Panthers vs Bucs home game for his military service, also reflected on the visit. "Military means a lot to me," says Jackson. "I have a lot of family that are military- the hard work, dedication and what they do for our country, is something that I appreciate. It's an honor to visit today."
The Buccaneers proudly support the brave men and women of the United States military throughout the year with festivities honoring active duty and retired military members at each home game. In honor of Veteran's Day, at this Sunday's game versus the New York Jets, the Bucs will once again partner with USAA to host and honor General H Norman Schwarzkopf Military Family of the Year Award winners in the Salute to Service game suite and honor two World War II veterans, who are also husband and wife, as the Heroes of the Game. Additionally, Buccaneers players will provide hundreds of game tickets to military members through the player ticket program.
"We will stay up until one in the morning when we are on the other side of the world to see our favorite football team play back home," concludes Major Russell. "Sports, and football in general is huge in the military."