TAMPA, Fla. — After a "heat-of-the-moment gesture" was flagged as being unsportsmanlike during the Super Bowl, one Bucs player is looking to further make amends with a donation to local schools.
The NFL fined Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield $7,815 for unsportsmanlike conduct when he now-infamously gave the peace sign to the Chiefs' running-back Tyreek Hill during Super Bowl LV.
According to a release from the Bucs, Winfield did this to "playfully remind Hill of his actions the last time the two teams met in Week 12."
As a way of "turning the situation around," Winfield announced he would be matching the fine amount and making a donation to the Buccaneers Youth Leadership Program.
"Since it got a lot of media attention, it was out there and I wanted to just spin it in a way to make it positive," said Winfield in a statement. "And what better way than to give back to the Youth Leadership program that I did all year? That was kind of how that kind of came about because I was thinking of different things I could do. I spent the whole year with the kids and talking to them and everything, so I feel like that was a good opportunity to go with those guys."
The leadership program is part of the team's social justice initiative in partnership with the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee that serves Young Middle Magnet School in Tampa.
The team says Winfield has been mentoring with the program virtually.
"Our students have already benefited greatly from the Buccaneers Youth Leadership Program at Young Middle Magnet School," said Dr. Henrissa Berry, principal of Young Middle Magnet, in a statement. "This is just another example of how this partnership teaches our learners important life lessons they will bring with them even outside the walls of the classroom."
The Bucs say its social justice fund will match Winfield's donation for a total of $15,630 going to the school.
"Our district is deeply appreciative, not only for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but also Antoine Winfield, Jr. for this monetary donation that will make a strong impact at Young Middle Magnet," said Superintendent Addison Davis. "Taking an unfortunate situation and turning it into a positive one is the measure of a true champion, and a wonderful example for our students and entire community."
If you'd like to make a donation to support the program, you can visit the Hillsborough Education Foundation's website and make the gift out to the Buccaneers Youth Leadership Program and Young Middle School in the notes section, the team says.
“Hillsborough Education Foundation (HEF) is grateful for Antoine Winfield’s donation and his ongoing commitment to at-risk students by serving as a mentor in the Buccaneers Youth Leadership Program in partnership with HEF. These funds, along with the Buccaneers Social Justice Fund match, will support a high-needs school predominately serving low-income students who don’t have the same resources as more affluent schools,” said HEF CEO Kim Jowell.
“Together, we are tackling inequities, so all students have the access and opportunity to benefit from a high-quality public education. Mentoring, with help from powerful influencers like Antoine, is proven to keep our most vulnerable students on the path to graduation—building a brighter future for them and stronger community for all of us.”
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