For Clinton McDonald, the idea that younger Bucs players might follow his lead and be more active in the community is a gratifying reward in itself.
"We all want to be great on the field, but sometimes our mission in life is to be great men outside of the lines of football," the Bucs defensive tackle said Friday. "For guys to kind of take my lead, to say 'I want to get involved in my community' … it makes it easier for us all to get out in the community."
McDonald was announced Thursday as the Bucs' Man of the Year for 2018, making him one of 32 finalists for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said the honor is well-deserved for the 30-year-old, who is finishing his fourth season with Tampa Bay.
"You couldn't have a finer person on your team," Koetter said. "Excellent leader. When Clinton speaks up in team meetings, everyone listens, including me. The room goes silent. Clinton just has a great head on his shoulders. He's very generous in the community. He thinks about what is needed and he acts on it."
When Hurricane Irma left major parts of the Tampa Bay area without power for an extended period of time, McDonald arranged for food trucks to go into impacted areas and provide free meals to families in need.
"This is my home. This is where I live," McDonald said. "When we went out for the hurricane and came back … we didn't have a lot of resources as lights and power. It put me in check … I still had lights. I still had power. I had food and had resources. A lof of our neighbors in our community didn't have those things. For me to be in a position that I am to see what's going on in the community, it makes you feel like, 'Okay, I can do more. I can do a little better.'"
McDonald, who has been especially active in supporting local military personnel and their families, will miss Sunday's game with a back injury, but Koetter said the veteran provides much of the same help to his teammates as a leader.
"He does the same thing on our football team," Koetter said. "You'd love to have a whole team of guys just like him, so, well-deserved."