Though the 1999 off-season contained its share of strength training, workouts and mini-camps for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it was also a time for players to focus on their off-the-field endeavors. Many players worked internships, spent their free time volunteering with local charities or went back to college to earn various degrees. The following provides a summary of what some of the Buccaneers accomplished during the off-season:
- Safety John Lynch and his wife, Linda, recognized recipients of the Lynch Family Legacy Scholarship and Star of the Year Award at the inaugural "Salute the Stars" Luncheon in May. Lynch, with help from the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, established the scholarship program to provide high school student-athletes financial assistance for college. Lynch`s "Star of the Month" program rewards Hillsborough County middle and high school student-athletes for their athletic and academic achievements, outstanding sportsmanship and community involvement. "Star of the Year" winners were selected from the monthly winners.
- On Wednesday, July 28, Pro Bowl LB Hardy Nickerson will accompany a group of 10 high school juniors and seniors on an educational field trip to the University of Florida. During the trip, the students will tour the UF campus and meet university counselors, administrators, coaches and student-athletes. Nickerson plans to give the students an idea of what university life is all about and explain to them the academic standards they will need to meet in order to gain admittance into college.
- In February, T Jerry Wunsch accompanied a group of pediatric cancer patients on a camping trip to his home state of Wisconsin. The 17 children from Tampa
s Childrens Cancer Center met a group of Wisconsin children who also suffered from cancer, and spent four days skiing, riding snowmobiles and dog sleds, and learning how other children cope with having cancer. This marked the second year Wunsch has sponsored "Jerry`s Journey" for young cancer patients.
- As part of his "Brooks
Bunch" program, Pro Bowl LB Derrick Brooks accompanied a group of 13 children from Tampas Ponce De Leon Boys & Girls Club on an educational field trip to Washington, D.C. in June. To earn a spot on Brooks` four-day expedition, students from the Boys & Girls Club were required to write essays on the historical significance of at least 15 Washington landmarks, assemble a portfolio of newspaper clippings about the city, demonstrate good behavior in school and improve their GPAs. The travelers toured such D.C. sites as the White House, the Supreme Court, the FBI building, the Smithsonian Institution, Arlington National Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial.
- Both LB Hardy Nickerson and RB Warrick Dunn participated in the "Race for the Cure," a 5K run/walk designed to increase public awareness and raise funds for the treatment of breast cancer. Dunn participated in the Tampa Bay Race in April, while Nickerson ran in the Miami Race during Super Bowl week and also joined five other NFL players at the Aspen, Colorado Race in July.
- Pro Bowl C Tony Mayberry and G Frank Middleton visited the pediatric units of Orlando`s Florida Hospital and Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Women to deliver team pennants and play games with the children. While in Orlando, the players also participated in the taping of a promotional video for the Children's Miracle Network Telethon.
- Starting DT Brad Culpepper hosted the fifth annual Brad Culpepper Celebrity Golf Classic in Tallahassee. Culpepper donated the $20,000 that was generated during the tournament to the Children`s Miracle Network at Shands Hospital in Gainesville. Culpepper and his wife, Monica, also presented a $15,000 check to Shriners Hospitals for Children located at the University of South Florida that will be used to provide educational games and toys for each room in the hospital.
- Receiver Karl Williams sponsored the inaugural Karl Williams Celebrity Golf Tournament in memory of his late father, William Wilson, who died from cancer of the liver last year. All proceeds generated during the tournament benefited "Karl`s Kids," a program Williams created with the Children's Cancer Center in honor of his father.
- Offensive tackle Paul Gruber and several Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders spent an evening in March interacting with families who reside at the Coalition for the Homeless in downtown Orlando. Gruber conducted a football clinic for the children who reside at the shelter and the cheerleaders held a cheer/dance workshop for the youth. Upon conclusion of the football and cheerleading clinics, the Buccaneers were celebrity servers for the Coalition for the Homeless` evening meal.
- Quarterback Trent Dilfer joined Habitat for Humanity in the dedication of three new Habitat homes to families in eastern Hillsborough Counties. Dilfer`s financial contributions to Habitat enabled the organization to build one entire house and helped construct two other homes in the same neighborhood.
- Several players got married during the off-season, including C Kevin Dogins, DT Marcus Jones, LB Shelton Quarles and T Jerry Wunsch. Several others welcomed the arrival of babies to their families, including S John Lynch, LB Derrick Brooks, S Damien Robinson, TE Dave Moore, QB Trent Dilfer, C/G Todd Washington and CB Donnie Abraham.
- Linebacker Al Singleton served an internship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, LB Derrick Brooks had an internship with the Buccaneers
Community Relations department, and S Eric Vance participated in an internship program at Raymond James Financial. Brooks also completed his masters degree in business communications at Florida State University, and DT Brad Culpepper continued to work on his law degree at the University of Florida.
- Fullback Mike Alstott and TE Dave Moore made several visits to St. Petersburg
s All Childrens Hospital during the off-season.
- Tackle Jason Odom served as a guest speaker during the Orlando Miracle
s "Faith & Family Night." The Miracle, Orlandos WNBA team, invited various church groups to attend a home game at the Orlando Arena and then attend a Christian-based post-game event that featured Odom and other speakers discussing their religious faith.
- Receiver Reidel Anthony served as the official spokesperson for Tampa Children
s Hospitals "Kids Are Heroes" program, an initiative that recognizes children in the Bay area community who have performed heroic and unselfish acts. Anthony honored several youth at the Kids Are Heroes Awards Banquet, recognizing those who demonstrated such deeds as setting a good example for their peers, performing a selfless act, displaying compassion when another person or animal is in need or putting someone else`s needs before their own.
- In a similar role, Reidel Anthony will join Tampa Mayor Dick Greco on July 27 in honoring two young people who have made a difference in the Tampa Bay community through Radio Disney`s "Hometown Heroes" program. Radio Disney, a 24-hour national radio network produced by Disney/ABC Radio Networks and targeted at children ages 12 and under, created the Hometown Heroes program to recognize kids who have made a difference in their communities through volunteer work, charity fundraising or other philanthropic activities.
- Pro Bowl DT Warren Sapp played in the Major League Baseball Players Alumni's "Legends of Baseball" game to raise funds for All Children`s Hospital and the Children's Home of Tampa Bay.
- Rookie K Martin Gramatica had lunch and spent an afternoon with young patients at the Shriners Hospitals for Children facility located on the University of South Florida campus. After playing in the East-West Shrine game during his college career at Kansas State University, Gramatica became interested in visiting the children at Tampa Shriners Hospital.
- Head Coach Tony Dungy served as the keynote speaker at the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando`s 14th Annual Scholar Athlete Banquet, an event designed to honor Central Florida's top 10 male and top 10 female high school senior scholar-athletes.
- Several Buccaneers players participated in St. Joseph
s Hospital Foundations "Fight Kids Cancer With Style," an event designed to kick off the Foundation`s annual fundraising initiative for pediatric cancer patients. Participating players included LBs Derrick Brooks, Shelton Quarles and Jeff Gooch, WRs Karl Williams and Reidel Anthony, DT Brad Culpepper, K Martin Gramatica and G Jorge Diaz.
- Nearly every Buccaneers player and coach participated in the 1999 Buccaneer Golf Classic, an event that raised money for the United Way.
- Receiver Karl Williams and LB Shelton Quarles presented awards to participants of the Children's Home
s 20th Annual Murphey Award Ceremonies. The event honored Children's Home residents who demonstrated athleticism, courage and dedication during the Homes mini-Olympics.
- Fullback Mike Alstott conducted the third annual Mike Alstott Football Camp for players ages eight-15. The four-day program consisted of on-field instructions from Alstott and coaches from major colleges and Bay area high schools.
- Quarterback Trent Dilfer and T Paul Gruber hosted their annual football camp for children from the Police Athletic League.
- Linebackers Shelton Quarles, Mitch Palmer and Don Davis provided on-field instruction at two Orlando summer football camps, one at the Northwest Community Center, supported by the Police Athletic League, and another at the Florida Citrus Sports Camps at the Florida Citrus Bowl. The players also served as motivational speakers during the daily enrichment hour for all summer camp participants, discussing the importance of teamwork and fair play in sports and in life.
- General Manager Rich McKay, Head Coach Tony Dungy, DT Brad Culpepper and QB Shaun King served as guest speakers for three local Chamber of Commerce meetings, providing attendees insight into the Buccaneers` upcoming season. The Bucs spoke at meetings of the Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa Chambers of Commerce.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jenny Egger Townley Community Relations Media Coordinator Tampa Bay Buccaneers 813-870-2700, ext. 296