The Buccaneers and the city of Tampa announced on Monday a partnership focused on improving social justice causes within the community.
Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, president of the Buccaneers Foundation, explained that the initiative is a player-led, year-round operation focused on social justice and making an impact within the community through the leadership of Bucs players.
Offensive linemen Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet, wide receiver DeSean Jackson, and defensive lineman Gerald McCoy were named as leaders of the social justice board, which was formed and 100% led by players.
The initiative's development came from meetings between players and organizational leadership, which took place over a year ago.
"We all were able to voice our opinions," McCoy said. "Give different backgrounds, where we’ve come from, things we’ve seen. And they heard us. But not only did they hear us, but they put their money where their mouth was."
The Kassewitz family committed $1 million to the Buccaneers Foundation Social Justice Fund. A matching fund was available to each player that wanted to contribute to social justice causes they took interest in.
"Throughout the season and into next year, the players will visit Tampa Bay organizations who are committed to addressing social justice issues with the goal of making a meaningful difference in our community," Glazer Kassewitz said.
City of Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn was supportive of the partnership and excited for the progressive dialogue it would instigate.
"This is going to make a difference," Buckhorn said. "This is going to have an impact. This is about something outside those lines. This is about being a man, recognizing your role, standing up and fulfilling that and making this community a better place. We stand there with you and we are thankful for your participation."
The players' motto for the initiative is: "We are the change." McCoy said that players intend on the initiative being more than just a one-time thing.
"We understand we’re role models," he said. "We understand that we can’t just be across the white lines. If we’re going to talk about it, we have to be about it, and that’s what we’re here to do."