DE Dewayne White helped the kids at All Children's Hospital enjoy their 'Fall Festival'
"See you on Wednesday." These four words – which, when spoken by a coach, in essence grant players an extra day off after a good game on Sunday – are music to the ears of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
However, giving a player a day to himself on Monday doesn't necessarily means he's going to take Tuesday off, too. This Tuesday, rather than spend that time lounging by a pool or catching some rays at the beach, one group of Buccaneers spent the morning out in the community.
A few lucky classes at Pierce and Ferrell Middle Schools were treated to a visit from Anthony 'Booger' McFarland as he continued his "Booger's Bucs Can Wait" program. McFarland walked the halls of both schools and spoke to various classes about making educated decisions on issues that can have a major impact on their lives. He asked the students to pledge that they will "get the facts before they act," a phrase that best describes the purpose of his program.
McFarland kicked off "Booger's Bucs Can Wait" at both schools on September 21 by speaking to large student assemblies. Tuesday's classroom visits gave both the students and McFarland a chance to interact on a more personal level.
"Last time I visited these schools I came to give them an overview of my program," said McFarland. "Now and throughout the rest of the year I try to come out and get personal with the kids. I love talking with them in a smaller setting where they're a little more calm and a little bit more likely to pay attention. By talking to them in smaller groups, I feel like they can get personal with me and I can get personal with them."
While the Buccaneers' star defensive tackle was visiting the middle schools, a younger member of the vaunted Tampa Bay defense spoke to a group of students at Hillsborough High School. In celebration of NFL High School Tuesday, Jermaine Phillips discussed his high school experiences and discussed how those years helped shape him into a responsible adult.
The Buccaneer safety was able to pass on some knowledge and advice that have enabled him to be successful. Most importantly, though, Phillips wanted to help the students make the most out of their high school years.
"I was just talking to these kids about the high school experience," said Phillips. "I told them to take advantage of the time they have now because they'll never get it back. Second chances are hard to come by, so I want them to take advantage of what's going on right now."
Many of the students who heard Phillips speak plan on applying to college themselves. Phillips told them that graduating from the University of Georgia was among his proudest moments, and he relayed to them how to go about achieving that goal.
"I want these kids to work hard and make smart decisions," said Phillips. "Hard work now will only make things easier for them, especially in college. It's all about time management – as long as they do that and keep their priorities in line, everything will work out."
McFarland and Phillips' respective visits aimed to help kids achieve their goals, but another contingent of Buccaneer players had a different goal on Tuesday morning. Greg Comella, Derrick Deese, Earnest Graham, Brian Griese, Dave Moore, Todd Steussie and Dewayne White joined together to help All Children's Hospital put on its Fall Carnival.
"We just got a bunch of guys together on our off day and decided to come out here," said Moore. "We're just excited to be here and to have the opportunity to kind of mess around with the kids for a while and take their minds off the reasons why they're here at the hospital. Just to get their mind off of what they're going through means a lot. It's just good for both sides to get out here."
Children at the carnival had the opportunity to play catch with Griese, bowl with Steussie and shoot free throws with White. Participants were given "Buc Bucks," which they could exchange for various games and toys. The players also signed autographs and took pictures with all those in attendance.
When the carnival was over, the Buccaneers split up and visited with those children who were not able to attend the carnival. According to Griese, the kids at All Children's weren't the only ones touched by the day's events.
"I just wanted to come out and help them get though the day, and maybe even put a smile on their faces," said Griese. "It's a great opportunity for us as football players to use what we have been given in a positive way. I get a lot out of coming here. These kids just give me so much and energy and inspiration."