TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive line put a new twist on their annual holiday gift exchange this year. Instead of exchanging presents with each other, they put their money together to create special bonuses for a few staff members at their facility so their efforts wouldn't get overlooked.
"The equipment guys, the trainers, the kitchen staff -- coaches get paid a lot of money -- like those who help us out on a regular basis, the people who cook special food for us, or whatever it is, the training staff, they spend tons of time with us," said offensive guard/center Evan Smith. "Not all those guys make as much money as people think they do."
Smith said that they took one of the locker room speakers, cranked up the volume on some holiday music and paraded around the building surprising staff members. Smith estimates that they gave each staffer $450-$500.
He said that they came up with the idea after a few failed attempts at White Elephant gift exchanges.
"This year, I was like, 'You guys all buy crappy gifts anyways,'" Smith said. "It's not like the [defensive line] where they all get nice [Gucci] bags and s---. One year, we were like, 'Alright, the limit [is] like this much,' and everyone shows up with a drone. There were like five guys with drones. I'm like, 'Nobody wants a drone.'"
"Guys kept blowing it, so I was like, 'Alright, this year, I'm not gonna waste my money buying a nice gift for you guys if you're going to buy something crappy,'" Smith said laughing. "We'll all just put money in, we'll all give good money to people who need it more than us.' ... They were all really appreciative."
Smith and the offensive line weren't the only ones feeling extra generous this holiday season. Defensive tackle Sealver Siliga visited a Tampa Applebee's restaurant on Christmas Eve and gave an $1,000 tip -- $100 for each person working late that night.