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Bucs rookies visit patients, students at Moffitt

By Greg Auman
Bucs rookie DT Stevie Tu'ikolovatu combines the Batman mask with an impromptu mummy costume as local students were challenged to wrap players in toilet paper as fast as possible during an event Tuesday at Moffitt Cancer Center. (GREG AUMAN | TIMES)

Tuesday, the traditional day off in a regular NFL week, is also when Bucs rookies are often out spending time in the community, as was the case at Moffitt Cancer Center this week.

Ten Bucs rookies, including tight end O.J. Howard, safety Justin Evans and linebacker Kendell Beckwith, spent their Halloween morning with patients and their families at Moffitt, then took part in a "Play 60" event with students from Lee and Lockhart elementary schools and Sligh Middle School.

"It's something close to your heart. It gives me motivation. I'm fortunate to go out and play the game I love," Beckwith said of spending time with patients. "It makes me appreciate it that much more. It really touched me."

Players picked from an assortment of masks — receiver Chris Godwin was pleasantly surprised to be able to pry a Trojan helmet away from defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, who played at USC but opted for a Batman mask.

The "Play 60" time had students going through football drills with players — catching passes and running cone drills — and then a Halloween-themed contest, with kids racing to mummy-wrap players in toilet paper as fast as possible.

The Bucs are mired in a four-game losing streak, but as players signed autographs and posed for selfies, it was a reminder that some fans are still thrilled to meet players whether they're winning or losing.

"It's awesome for us to be able to get out in the community, interact with the people who support us and put a smile on their face," Godwin said. "It's definitely special, with all the things they're going through, for them to say they're praying for us, that's unbelievable. It puts a smile on our faces as well."