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Kickers raise money to help quake victims

Bucs kicker Martin Gramatica, his brother Bill, a rookie kicker for the Arizona Cardinals and younger brother Santiago, a freshman kicker for the University of South Florida, have been thinking about the victims of the devastating earthquake in Peru in late June.

Now, they plan on doing something about it.

The Argentina-born Gramaticas will sign autographs and collect non-perishable foods and medical supplies outside Raymond James Stadium on Saturday before the soccer game between the Mutiny and the Colorado Rapids.

The Gramaticas, who will be between Gate C and D from 5:30 to 7 p.m., plan to donate the collected items to a disaster relief effort.

"Those countries aren't as fortunate as we are to have the resources to get things done after those kind of disasters," Martin Gramatica said.

"So, it's just a way we felt we could help some people in need."

The Mutiny had planned to honor the Gramaticas' parents, William and Laura, for their charity work in the community as part of its Hispanic Heritage Night.

"It was really just a coincidence," Martin Gramatica said. "We just had two dates to choose and that's the one we had and then the earthquake happened.

"But you can't forget where you're from. Even though I'm so happy to live here and have the opportunities that I have I was still born in that part of the world."

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY: Weeks before the NFL draft, New York Giants cornerback Will Allen, a first-round pick from Syracuse, said he was ready to take on the trials of being a professional athlete.

Speaking to the Times at the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Allen said: "You're going to have a lot of people trying to get a piece of you because you have a little bit of money. I think that's going to be the scariest thing, trying to figure out who you can trust. And that goes for family, too."

Allen's words now seem prophetic. Last Sunday, he was mugged and robbed of $150,000 in jewelry while returning to his apartment around 4:40 a.m. Allen said one of the men called him by his name.

Allen's predicament has not been ignored at One Buc Place.

Bucs general manager Rich McKay said his team and the NFL do everything they can to prepare rookies, and all players, for what's ahead.

"I think the best you can to do is educate these guys that they are targets," McKay said. "They are highly compensated young men who will either have a lot of cash, a lot of jewelry, cars or whatever.

"We've always had that 2 a.m. rule. If it happens after 2 a.m., it's not good."

McKay said what's disturbing about Allen's assault was that the individuals appeared to have known him and stalked him.

"I don't think I've ever heard about something like that," McKay said.

"This is the first time in a lot of their lives that they have access to this much money and you know what, they're not the only ones who know that."

WARREN'S WORDS OF WISDOM: Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp, arguably the team's most recognizable figure, was a keynote speaker at the recently completed NFL Rookie Symposium in Leesburg, Va.

All nine of the Bucs draft picks attended the four-day seminar, which is mandatory for all first-time players.

Sapp talked to the group of 300 about effective media relations. Bucs director of communication Reggie Roberts said Sapp admitted to the group that he isn't always available to answer questions but he tried to impress upon them "why it's in the best interest of all NFL players to speak to the media," Roberts said. Sapp attended the symposium at the request of commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

NEW GEAR NEXT YEAR: This will be the final season for the adidas logo on Bucs game day gear. Starting next season, the NFL begins its new contract with Reebok and all teams are expected to comply.

"Everybody has known it was coming for a couple of years," McKay said. "Adidas has known it was coming. So too has Nike and the others.

"From next year, the gear we will wear will be Reebok, that simple. It'll be interesting."

The subject of wearing the clothing of sports apparel makers that differ from the league contract is not new to the NFL. A few years ago, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones signed a contract with Nike and defied the league's existing contract with Starter.

"There ended up being a lawsuit and the settlement was that Nike did end up being in the league, but paid the league directly," McKay said. "Next year, all teams will have to go to Reebok.

"Stuff like the pants, the jerseys, the caps and the coaches gear, that'll all be Reebok."

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