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Brad Culpepper relishes not-so-quiet times with 14-month-old son , Rex. "I'd rather play with him than anyone else.'' [Times photo: Darrell Fry]

Culpepper has his hands full

Defensive tackle stays busy with commitments to his family and school children.

By DARRELL FRY

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 28, 1998


TAMPA -- Tuesday was supposed to be Brad Culpepper's day off from the Bucs. It was more like half a day off.

Between public appearances and charity work, he got in only a few hours of true relaxation, playing with 14-month-old son Rex in the family swimming pool and reading Catch-22.

Then again, Culpepper wouldn't have it any other way.

"I like to keep busy," the seven-year veteran defensive lineman said.

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He had a crowded plate Tuesday, starting with a 7:30 a.m. wake-up call from Rex. After breakfast with Rex and wife Monica at the Tahitian Inn (they ate for about $12), Culpepper spent a half-hour getting his left knee treated at One Buc Place.

Then it was off to Monroe Middle School in south Tampa, one of two schools (Madison Middle School is the other) Culpepper takes turns visiting Tuesdays before home games as part of his new Culpepper's Champions program. To promote reading, he hands out 10 tickets and 10 Bucs jerseys each visit to students who show the most improvement in reading.

"Education is important, and reading is such a vital part of it that I wanted to encourage kids in that way," said Culpepper, who graduated from the University of Florida and attends law school there in the off-season.

After leaving Monroe, Culpepper joined teammate Dave Moore for a public appearance at Tech Data Corp. He spent two hours interacting with employees during a company function.

Not until about 2 in the afternoon was Culpepper able to go home and enjoy some free time. Although he is an avid fisherman, his favorite hobby is playing with Rex. Even Monica playfully refers her husband as Rex's best friend.

After Rex has his afternoon nap, father and son often go for a swim or take a ride in their boat that usually is docked behind their home on Tampa Bay. Invariably they end up in the front yard playing, which frequently draws neighborhood kids.

"I love being able to play with Rex," Culpepper said after he and Rex emerged from the pool and headed to the front yard. "Sometimes I take him over to One Buc Place with me when I go over for treatment, and he plays with the balls.

"I like to go fishing and do different things on my day off, but I'd rather play with him than anything else."

Fun time didn't last long this Tuesday because the Culpeppers had friends over for dinner. Brad grilled steaks while Monica prepared corn on the cob, homemade sweet bread, squash casserole, mashed potatoes and Key lime pie.

After dinner, Culpepper helped give Rex a bath, then put him to bed. Then, he and Monica spent the rest of the evening reading and watching TV. It was Brad's last respite before the demands of pro football take over his life again.

"It's nice to relax for a while," he said, "because I'm going to be gone again (attending practice today and Thursday). But I figure I'm only going to play football for a few more years, so it's not so bad."

 

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