Buccaneers rookies rev up to race firefighters

- This was no sprint to the finish line. Instead, when Buccaneers rookies got the green flag, they got behind the wheel and put pedal to the metal at the Tampa Bay Grand Prix on Monday.

"They're pretty fast," said tight end O.J. Howard.

Defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu agreed.  "It was fast."

Wide receiver Chris Godwin may have run a 4.42 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, but on the track, he lacked speed.

"I think I rested my foot on the brake a little bit too much," he said. "I was trying to figure out why my car wasn't moving, but I figured it out quickly!"

Fast on his feet and, now, in a go-kart.

They had to think fast too, because they had competition: Rookies from Tampa Fire Rescue. 

"To get out here and be able to go go-karting and kind of get like a friendly competition, you know, it bonds us together a lot. It builds that chemistry that we're going to need later in the year," said Godwin.

It's chemistry they'll need both on and off the field.

Today, though, was about those who risk their lives on a daily basis. They're the real heroes, Bucs players say.

"It takes true character to do that and [I] have so much respect for those guys," said Howard.

"It's so humbling to come out and participate with these athletes, especially who have risen to their level of professional sports," said Tampa Fire Rescue Chief Tom Forward. "They're not even considerate or looking at their positions, but more or less, looking at what the Tampa Fire Rescue rookies mean to this organization and what we as Tampa firefighters in public services means to the community."

"They're more heroes than we are. I'm grateful we're out here, we get to meet them and get to know them and everything," said Tu'ikolovatu.

An experience they're not likely to forget, and one that kept the Bucs in shape in preparation for the start of mini-camp.

"That's all I can say, it was fast, and it was really hot, and it feels like we're working out," added Tu'ikolovatu. "But, it's fun!"

Buccaneers mini-camp is mandatory for all players. It kicks off Tuesday, June 13.

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