WR Michael Clayton has worked in the service industry before, so he felt right at home bagging groceries at Publix
Paper or plastic?
That was the question wide receiver Michael Clayton and tight end Alex Smith posed to shoppers at a local Publix store on Friday afternoon as they helped customers pick out groceries, bagged items in the checkout lane and even handed out $50 gift cards to 10 lucky shoppers.
The two players were on hand to carry out the latest good deed in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' "Random Acts of Kindness" campaign. Through this program, which was just launched earlier this month, the team performs acts throughout the community that benefit everyday people in the course of everyday activities.
After loading up on milk, eggs, and bread and pushing their carts up to the register, surprised shoppers found one of their favorite Buccaneers waiting. Clayton and Smith helped ring up the purchases, put them in bags, provided a gift card to pay for them and even helped carry the groceries out to the customers' cars.
Jackie Brophy, one of the lucky shoppers who received a gift card, was shocked to meet some of the Bucs players, especially in such a unique setting.
"My gosh, it's fantastic," Brophy said. "You see them on television, but you don't think you'll ever meet them, much less have them bag your groceries for you."
Garry Freid, who has been a resident of Tampa for 75 years and a Bucs fan since the team's inception, came away extremely impressed with the generous display and the grocery service provided by Smith, which Freid called a "celebrity encounter."
"I can't believe it – I'm 90 years old, and this is about the first time I've ever been with a celebrity like this," said Freid. "I'm certainly surprised and I feel great about it. I just want to thank the Buccaneers so much. [Smith] bought my groceries. He's what I call a gentlemen sportsman."
For Smith and Clayton, the afternoon spent at the grocery store was simply a chance to give back in some small way to the fans that support them every Sunday.
"It's just getting out in the community," Smith said. "The Bucs have several charities that we work with, but it's a new program we decided to start up where we just go out into the community and try and give back to the fans that we don't normally get a chance to reach out to."
Added Clayton: "It was fun. It's always good to give back to the community. We do a lot of charity work and we just want to get out on a personal standpoint and represent the Bucs and what we do and how we are as a team and give back to the community who supports us at the games every Sunday."
While both of the players are skilled pass-catchers on the field, it was Clayton who exceeded Smith when it came to grocery store talents.
Smith laughed as he repeatedly ran items under the bar code scanner, trying again and again to get the groceries to ring up.
"Yes, I'm a real Buccaneer," Smith told the shopper he was helping, "But I'm not a real cashier, though."
For Clayton, the whole event was like taking a trip down memory lane, recalling a job he held as a teenager.
"I had to work up to bagging groceries because I was the cart guy at Sam's Club, with the big carts with the big boxes," Clayton said. "This is just home for me."
Even though Clayton outdid him with his grocery-bagging skills, Smith said it was a fun afternoon for all those involved – both the shoppers and the players.
"It seems like everybody's enjoying it," Smith said. "We're having a good time, too. It's definitely the first time I've ever done something like this. I'm happy just to see everybody else smiling. One lady started crying. Just to be able to help people out like that, it makes you feel good inside."