For rookies, part of getting acclimated to the NFL means building relationships with the rest of their draft class both on and off the field. It’s even better when they can parley a social function with those in the community.
After a three-day minicamp last week, where rookies got their first taste of on-field action as pros, the Bucs’ 2016 draftees participated in a community event at Pinchasers bowling alley on Friday.
Joining them in the friendly competition was another group of rookies, these first-year guys from the Tampa Fire Rescue. At the conclusion of the 90-minute event, the unit’s chief spoke about the importance of camaraderie in both professions, vowing to keep a strong relationship with the team and cheer them on this fall.
Bucs first-round pick Vernon Hargreaves III presented the chief with a ball signed by the entire rookie class, and later spoke to reporters about the significance of being active in the community and continuing events like these.
“It shows the community that you care,” Hargreaves said. “We’re not just football players; we’re people, too. It’s great to hang out, especially with people like firefighters who do important stuff for the community. We just play football.”
The rookie firefighters also gained a lot out of the event, as they could relate to a group of guys getting used to a profession they’ve spent long hours preparing for.
“We’re all new to what we’re doing, so it’s good for all of us to get together,” said Justin Thibodeaux, who joined the Tampa Fire Rescue nearly two months ago. “We’ve all just been hired on to Tampa. (It’s) great public relations.”
Along with becoming more familiar with the working people of their team’s city, Friday afternoon also served as an off-field mixer for rookies. The Bucs’ 2015 class was particularly close and it showed on the field. The team would certainly like to keep the trend going this year.
Less than two weeks since the draft concluded, Hargreaves said the rookies already have chemistry and are looking forward to the rest of the offseason.
“It’s a bunch of good guys in this rookie class and we’ve already been bonding through rookie minicamp,” said Hargreaves, who scored over 125 in both games he bowled. “It’s a very natural feel, natural vibe. We all get along. Like I said, we’re looking forward to OTAs and training camp and when the season starts.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
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Pun for the day! Maybe we get a couple of pro bowlers out of the group! lol.
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