The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defensive Line have joined forces for the sixth year to bring holiday cheer to hundreds of children and families in the Tampa Bay community. "D-Line Delivers Christmas" is an annual event that pairs the team's defensive players with non-profit organizations to select and invite underserved families to One Buccaneer Place for an evening to remember.
This year, the Bucs' defensive roster grew, as did the venue. For the first time ever, "D-Line Delivers Christmas" moved to Raymond James Stadium. As the evening kicked off, families arrived at the West Stadium Club under the impression they received an invitation to a special holiday dinner and tour. Shortly after they began their meal, they were interrupted by none other than defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who had not one, not two, but a night full of surprises.
First surprise of the night was to introduce his teammates. McCoy was joined by Chris Baker, Will Clarke, Patrick Gamble, Davonte Lambert, Clinton McDonald, Patrick O'Conner, Ryan Russell, Sealver Siliga, Noah Spence, Stevie Tu'Ikolovatu and Channing Ward, who each received a roaring applause as they walked onto the stage. The lineman then revealed the true nature of the visit before passing out gift cards from Publix for families to get a head start on a holiday feast of their own, along with fitness trackers, just in time for the ever popular New Year's resolution.
The Buccaneers D-Line surprised families with a night to remember during the 6th Annual D-Line Delivers Christmas
Next, the special guests headed on to the stadium tour. Or so they thought. As they arrived at a long dark curtain, you could hear the linemen on the other side, who were as anxious as the children for the big reveal on the other side. Journei, Marcus, Taylor and Jacob; the next "tour" stop beyond the curtain featured a personalized bicycle and coordinating helmet for every boy and girl in attendance.
"I love seeing my kids smile, so I can only imagine that's what every parent wants to see", shared McCoy, who says his favorite gift growing up was a bicycle.
The night of gifting continued with two mega shopping sprees. Each family made a trip to the all-new Buccaneers team store to pick up $200 worth of new gear and accessories before heading to a local retail store with an additional $300 shopping spree. In total, the Buccaneers defensive line and coaches supported 75 families during this year's "D-Line Delivers Christmas"- the most families served in its sixth-year history.
"I love being in a room full of guys who all believe that we've been blessed so we can bless others, says McCoy. "I love my brothers. We fight with each other all year. We're together all year. This is an example of who we are off the field."