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Several Bucs players in the holiday spirit of giving
In this Nov. 25, 2012 file phoro, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackle Donald Penn (70) looks at the scoreboard as kicker Connor Barth leaves the field following a missed 56-yard field goal by Barth during the fourth quarter of an NFL game in Tampa. Penn and Barth are just two of the Bucs players who have been giving back to the community.
AP FILE PHOTO / CHRIS O'MEARA
RICK BROWN, Lakeland Ledger
Published: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 6:53 p.m.
NFL athletes have gotten a lot of negative attention over the past few weeks.
Two players were recently involved in murder and homicide and seemingly every week another athlete is suspended for violating the league's policy on banned substances.
But a few Tampa Bay Bucs athletes are proving that some athletes do good things in the community, even if they aren't publicizing it.
Radio station Wild94.1 out of St. Petersburg was having a toy drive where one of its hosts stayed outside for 94 hours soliciting toys and donations. On Friday, the host said he had not heard from any local athletes and was wondering what was going on.
Tampa Bay offensive lineman Donald Penn happened to hear the host on his way to One Buc Place and decided to help. He teamed up with fellow offensive lineman Davin Joseph and donated two truckloads of toys to the toy drive.
Penn even rented a large moving truck so he could make sure they donated a lot.
“I felt like I needed to do something,” Penn said. “It just felt right. Me and Davin went to Toys ‘R' Us, picked up everything, filled up the trucks and rolled up.”
Penn and Joseph weren't the only Bucs doing things.
Kicker Connor Barth, punter Michael Koenen and long-snapper Andrew Economos teamed together to donate some toys to a local hospital for an upcoming event and the defensive linemen are also doing an upcoming event.
For these players, it's not about the recognition. They weren't prompted by the Bucs to do these community events. They wanted to do it for themselves.
“To much is given, much is required,” Koenen, who has three children said. “It's the least I can do to show people love and help brighten their day and let them know we care about them and are important.”
When it comes to children, Economos was all for helping out.
“When you get to help kids who don't necessarily have what the normal day to day that any kid has, it's special,” Economos said. “Mike had a blast and so did I.”
Barth heard about the event while visiting the hospital with his mother. He asked if there was anything he could do and they said they were looking for donations for their upcoming event. Barth took it from there and made a donation with the team's specialists.
“I just want to help as much as I can to help these kids have a normal Christmas,” Barth said. “That's what's special about being an athlete; you can do something like that.”
Notes: Bucs coach Greg Schiano said wide receivers coach P.J. Fleck will coach the last two games with the team before taking over as head coach at Western Michigan. “The one thing he's got is great energy,” Schiano said. “He's got great focus on what he wants to do and he's has strong beliefs.”
Tampa Bay defensive end Aaron Morgan (shoulder) and tight end Luke Stocker (head/nose) were limited in Wednesday's padded practice.