TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As soon as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers walked off of the field on Wednesday, another team attempted to fill their shoes.
That team, which was composed of approximately 100 local military members, participated in the “USAA’s Salute to Service NFL Boot Camp.”
“USAA is the official Salute to Service sponsor for the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” explained Shelina Frey, the USAA Military Affairs Representative for the Southeast Region of Florida. “So what we do is we bring a unique experience to our military community and to our NFL team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.”
The event organizers split the military members into smaller teams so they could compete in a variety of football drills like the vertical jump and the 40-yard dash.
“This event has been cool,” said David Delgado, a member of the United States Coast Guard. “I kind of got selected for it at the last second. I was a replacement but it was a pleasant surprise.”
He said he was asked to attend the Wednesday event on Tuesday as he was heading home.
“I am glad that I got here, a day out of work, and it is fun,” Delgado said. “Who can beat that?”
Delgado, who is from Texas, admitted he is a Houston Texans fan. However, after watching the Buccaneers in training camp, he said he will probably cheer for them this season.
“I have been seeing a lot of players and, you know, when you see them in person, it is a different experience,” he said. “It kind of makes you more of a fan.”
“There is so much excitement here with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning the Super Bowl, with the Tampa Bay Lightning winning back to back Stanley Cups, so this is a championship town and everybody is excited to be winners so the military wins,” Frey said. “They protect us and serve us every day. They make sacrifices with their families every day and, then, the Buccaneers do so much for the community and for the military community. To hear the, ‘Thank you for your service,’ is an absolute big deal for them.”
The winning team earned bragging rights as well as tickets to the game between the Buccaneers and the New York Giants at Raymond James Stadium in November.