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Al Bundy
12-25-2010, 11:30 AM
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WebGem
12-25-2010, 12:04 PM
I can't get the video to play but I can see it says Tampa Bay. What is it? Only thing I know about that organization is I sure was laughing my ass off while they were winning a championship.

Rams Fan
12-25-2010, 12:12 PM
I can't get the video to play but I can see it says Tampa Bay. What is it? Only thing I know about that organization is I sure was laughing my ass off while they were winning a championship.

There was someone who was 25 that was a fan of the Bucs and Mike Williams. He got to spend a day with the team and got a ball signed by Williams and Freeman, as well as a framed jersey. He has some sort of bone disease which causes his neck to go into a hook shape and his mom died from three different types of cancer when he was a kid. His dad left him and his aunt is taking care of him.

mikey23545
12-25-2010, 12:18 PM
http://img256.imageshack.us/img256/796/a4stravishug.jpg (http://img256.imageshack.us/i/a4stravishug.jpg/)


Inside the lobby of One Buc Place, Travis Grandlienard studied the displays — the uniforms, the history of Raymond James Stadium, the silver Vince Lombardi trophy kept in a clear, glass case. Just then, a door opened and out walked Bucs rookie wide receiver Mike Williams. "Where's my man Travis at?" Grandlienard, who has a rare disease that causes him to hunch over, peered up over his glasses. He was face-to-face with his favorite player. Williams opened his arms and embraced Grandlienard, 25. "Oh . . . my . . . God," Grandlienard said.

• • •

Grandlienard's Christmas surprise Wednesday started with a birthday wish Nov. 6. All he wanted was a Williams jersey.

Grandlienard explained why Williams is his favorite player: "He has a lot of talent. He's a young competitor. He's a great guy, on the field and off."

When his uncle and aunt finally found the jersey online, "it was the highlight of his birthday," said aunt Sandee Davies. "He was just elated."

Grandlienard has faced so many physical struggles over the past several years, his family feared he was sinking into a long-term depression.

So Davies and her husband, Ken, had an idea. What if they wrote to Williams and asked him to sign Travis' jersey?

In mid November, the St. Petersburg couple typed a letter.

Dear Mr. Williams, My husband and I are guardians to our nephew Travis Grandlienard. He is 25 and has had a really tough life. His Mom, my husband's sister, died of cancer when he was 13 and his father deserted him.

Grandlienard, they explained, has an aggressive form of rheumatoid arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis. At age 20, his neck began to curve forward, making it impossible for Grandlienard to hold his head up straight. The genetic disease can cause the spine to fuse, forcing the person into a perpetual stooped posture. Complications can include spinal fractures.

"Both of his doctors said they have never seen anyone with ankylosing spondylitis as advanced at his age," Davies said.

Grandlienard has already undergone one surgery on his neck. Once he's strong enough, doctors plan to perform another on his spine.

"We were wondering if there was any chance that you would sign the jersey for him. It would mean the world to him and be a bright spot in his uncertain future."

• • •

Williams said he gets a lot of mail from fans, but he was struck by the picture of Grandlienard the Davies tucked into their letter. The photo showed Grandlienard before his surgery in 2009 and his chin was lowered all the way to his chest.

There were other factors, Williams said. Like the idea of losing one's mom at such a young age.

A self-professed "mama's boy" raised by a single mother, Williams said, "I don't know what I'd do if I lost my mom."

Then there was the request, so humble and unassuming. The Davies weren't asking for tickets or gifts or anything extraordinary — just an autograph.

Williams, 23, could relate. As a child growing up in Buffalo, N.Y., he always wanted an autograph from Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly but never got one.

So, he took the Davies' letter to the Bucs community relations staff.

"I think we can do better than an autograph," he told them.

When asked later, Williams said, "To get him to live his dream is all I wanted to do."

He wanted the Davieses to bring Grandlienard to One Buc Place, where he could have lunch with the team and watch practice.

It would be a surprise.

• • •

The day started with lunch in the team's private dining room.

Williams helped Grandlienard through the line as he piled his plate with chicken, rice and pasta.

They sat with wide receivers Maurice Stovall and Ed Gant, offensive lineman MarcDile, tight end Kellen Winslow and linebacker Adam Hayward.

Quarterback Josh Freeman came over and signed Grandlienard's football. Then came defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and coach Raheem Morris, who joined Travis at the table.

When offensive coordinator Greg Olson stopped by to say hello, Grandlienard opened his windbreaker to show him his No. 19 Mike Williams jersey.

"That's a Keyshawn (Johnson) jersey isn't it?" Olson teased.

Grandlienard laughed.

"That's going to be our rookie of the year," he said.

• • •

After lunch, Grandlienard toured the facility — from the auditorium, to the state-of-the-art gym to the room where Morris holds news conferences.

There, Grandlienard got to take the stage and he made his prediction for Sunday's game: a 24-10 Buccaneers victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

• • •

The handful of spectators allowed at Wednesday afternoon's closed practice sat back on a patio, craning their necks for a look at their favorite players.

But Grandlienard was on the field with Williams, wearing a pair of receiver's gloves given to him by Williams.

"This is the best time of my life," he said.

On the field, he was one of the guys. They called him "T-dog" and "Trav, the man." They gave him high fives and fist pounds.

He stayed on the field for two full hours, never complaining about the stiffness in his back.

As practice ended, the players huddled around their honorary Buc as he led the team's closing cheer — "1-2-3-BUCS!"

"Even if I didn't have this today, whether they're 3 and 13 or 16 and 0, I'm a Bucs fan for life."

• • •

Williams made sure Grandlienard got his autograph. But instead of signing the jersey Grandlienard was wearing, Williams presented him with a new one, signed and framed.

"It's so uncommon for someone so young, who is in the limelight like he is now, to think about someone less fortunate than himself," Davies said. "We never in a million years dreamed something like this would happen."

She told Williams: "Your mama would be proud."

"You ready for one more surprise?" Williams asked, pulling a stack of tickets from an envelope.

On Sunday, when the Bucs play their last home game of the season, Grandlienard will be there.

He'll get to roam the sidelines before the game with special passes. Then he and his family will be Williams' guests in a private suite.

The Christmas surprise will be complete.

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/tampa-bay-bucs-rookie-receiver-mike-williams-grants-big-fan-a-dream-day/1141871

ElGringo
12-25-2010, 12:22 PM
Great story and yes, it is one of the many reasons the NFL is better than any other professional sport. You hear of NFL players doing this all the time, and it makes me wonder how often the players do this and you don't hear about it. My brother mentioned to me the other day that this is one upside of the current Chiefs roster as well, he would not mind his kids taking one of the Chiefs as a role model.

Coach
12-25-2010, 12:24 PM
Damn allergies.
Posted via Mobile Device

mikey23545
12-25-2010, 12:28 PM
Damn allergies.
Posted via Mobile Device

Yeah, they're pretty bad down here in Florida too...

WebGem
12-25-2010, 02:44 PM
There was someone who was 25 that was a fan of the Bucs and Mike Williams. He got to spend a day with the team and got a ball signed by Williams and Freeman, as well as a framed jersey. He has some sort of bone disease which causes his neck to go into a hook shape and his mom died from three different types of cancer when he was a kid. His dad left him and his aunt is taking care of him.

Oh okay, that stuff is really cool. There was some thing with Pete Carroll and a blind kid last night. The kid was actually a USC fan that had previously spent a day or gameday or something with the team, and Pete invited him to Seattle to do the same thing. I wasn't actually paying a ton of attention to it so I have have missed another big part of it, but it was on ESPN a couple times last night when I was watching it.

Over-Head
12-25-2010, 02:47 PM
wicked:thumb:

BryanBusby
12-25-2010, 02:52 PM
Damn allergies.
Posted via Mobile Device

This

cmh6476
12-25-2010, 03:27 PM
maybe he can get some chronic from talib to alleviate any pain

















ok, im going to hell

pr_capone
12-25-2010, 03:29 PM
There are some serious stand-up guys in the NFL.

I'm stoked that fame doesn't always go to a player's head.

x3 on the allergies.

GloryDayz
12-25-2010, 03:48 PM
These are the stories that remind you that life is good, and there's so much more to life than the things we bitch about 24x7. Thanks for the post..

|Zach|
12-25-2010, 03:51 PM
Thanks for posting.