Story written by Taylor Jenkins


Mayor of Tampa Bob Buckhorn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation president Darcie Glazer Kassewitz and several Buccaneers players, led by Gerald McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith, joined the City of Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan on Tuesday to announce the Bucs’ new year-round, player-led social justice initiative.

“For us, this is huge,” McCoy said, “We did just play a game a couple of days ago. Everybody is hurt, everybody is tired but it’s that important for us to be here. And it’s not just about, ‘Oh, well, this is how we feel. Hear us.’ It’s an open conversation. We expect both sides to be open and honest and hear what each other has to say.”

Players arrived at the Tampa Police Department Training Academy and took part in a situational training session where they would learn about and experience the rigors of the quick decision-making process officers must face, followed by a private question and answer portion between the players and officers.

“This is a challenge unlike anything we have faced as a nation,” Buckhorn said. “But ultimately it’s up to us how we resolve that quandary. It’s about communication. It’s about treating people with respect. It’s about recognizing the differences in our communities and acknowledging them. It’s understanding that as a country and with our diversity we are stronger and we are better because of that. It’s understanding the role of the police department and for one brief moment walking in their shoes.”

This initiative is a big moment for the Bucs and the community around them, especially with the continuous controversy that surrounds NFL players kneeling for the national anthem.

In his press conference at the event today, McCoy even looked back on the closed-door meeting the organization had a year ago and thanked the Glazers for giving the players an opportunity to speak on behalf of their own feelings and experiences, claiming that this all started then.

McCoy and Jackson emphasized that this isn’t a one-time thing, either. The Bucs as an organization will be holding events in the Tampa Bay community on a monthly basis throughout the season that will continue into next spring and summer, working with organizations like Abe Brown Ministries, Habitat for Humanity and others.

Kassewitz also announced that the Glazer family would be matching all donations, up to $1 million total, made by Bucs’ players toward any organization dedicated to social change.

“I was struck [in discussions with the players] by their true passion for this cause,” Kassewitz said. “And I see that today was an unbelievable start to what’s going to be an ongoing improvement.”

The initiative’s next event will be October 16th as the Bucs join Abe Brown Ministries to support the organization’s Ready-4-Work Ex-Offender training program.

“We are the change.” McCoy said. “We understand that we’re role models and we understand that we can’t just be across the white lines. If we want to talk about it, we have to be about it and that’s what we’re here to do. This isn’t a one-time thing, this is a yearly thing that is starting today.”

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]
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Rut
Rut
3 years ago

So were the police expected to learn anything or was this just an attempt to change the players minds that cops are always justified when they shoot someone? Seems kind of one sided even through all the talk about “open minds” and “listening to both sides”.

EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy
Reply to  Rut
3 years ago

I found the article strange in a similar way – hopefully the reality of the event was much different.

skipper
skipper
3 years ago

Sure seems to go against the Glazers political values as die hard Trump supporters.

pinkstob
pinkstob
3 years ago

I think the event itself is a good idea. If this quote from McCoy truly occurred, then I think it was money well spent to have this event: “And it’s not just about, ‘Oh, well, this is how we feel. Hear us.’ It’s an open conversation. We expect both sides to be open and honest and hear what each other has to say.”