St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Bucs search for ways to help victims of attack

Players from around the league plan to give money and more to survivors and families.

By ROGER MILLS and RICK STROUD

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 14, 2001


Players from around the league plan to give money and more to survivors and families.

TAMPA -- Bucs players likely will make a monetary donation, among other things, to the relief effort stemming from Tuesday's terrorists attacks in New York and Washington.

The idea starts with one of the team's highest-paid players, receiver Keyshawn Johnson.

Johnson, who last year signed an eight-year, $56-million contract that included a $13-million signing bonus, said he planned to donate one week's pay to the relief effort. Based on his $500,000 base salary, the contribution would be $31,250. "I was going to give this paycheck to the Red Cross," said Johnson, who made the decision Wednesday night after talking to his wife, Shikiri. "I'm going to write a check, and I don't know what amount it is, but it's to the Red Cross."

Johnson, who played four seasons with the Jets, said he is certain he has associates who have been affected by Tuesday's tragedy. He said a sizable donation is the right thing to do.

"It's not hurting me. What the hell is (money) going to do for me?" Johnson said. "Money isn't that important, there are lives that are much more important."

Punter Mark Royals, the team's player representative to the NFL Players' Association, said Johnson's gesture goes beyond financial value.

"That's a lot of loot," Royals said. "I think that makes a statement. When you get in your pocket for something, it means you're serious about it. That's the message we want to send as a collective team. We care what is going on."

Royals said team representatives from the NFLPA planned to participate in a national conference call Thursday night.

"We're going to talk about that tonight," Royals said. "I think the overwhelming sentiment of the players is to do something collectively. All the teams, all the players, doing something. I don't know if the owners want to take part in it. But we're going to talk about it.

"It could be a number of things. A monetary thing. A blood drive. It seems like at this point, we're going to get together and get something done."

Placekicker Martin Gramatica, who recently organized relief efforts for the victims of an earthquake in Peru, said he looks forward to making a contribution:

"There's really not much we can do to bring back the victims and to help heal those who are missing family members and loved ones. But it's still something we need to do. Right now we don't know what we can do, what is the best thing to do. But my feeling is we'll do something."

Quarterback Brad Johnson said he anticipates that "there are going to be donations given through the clubs and through individuals." He said he also may give blood this weekend.

"I was thinking I couldn't do it if we had the game," he said. "But now that we don't, I think it's a real good idea."

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.