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Vipers tag with WWE's Titus O'Neil to help community

PLANT CITY, Fla. -- The balls were flying through the air, but the Vipers weren't playing football.

They were playing dodgeball with the students at Sligh Middle School.

On Wednesday afternoon, the team took the time to visit the school and meet with Thaddeus Bullard, aka WWE superstar Titus O'Neil, who has devoted himself to improving Sligh's campus and culture.

The visit was the result of the close relationship between Bullard and Vipers head coach Marc Trestman. 

"I invited them out because one of the messages [coach Trestman] has made very clear was that he wanted the team and its players to be thoroughly invested in the community," Bullard said.

"He's a great example for all of us," Trestman said of Bullard.

After taking a tour of the campus, the players headed into the gym to meet the students before splitting up for a fierce, highly-competitive and entertaining game of dodgeball. 

"The kids didn't take any mercy on the players and players didn't take any mercy on the kids," Bullard said.

"He got smoked by three kids," QB Aaron Murray said about WR Reece Horn.

"The kids (were) throwing dimes out there," Horn said with a smile on his face.

From there, it was off to Citrus Park, where Bullard, Trestman and the players went on a special shopping trip with 20 students from Sligh and the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay.

Each player and student was given $1,000. Their goal: buying gifts for local kids in need. 

Over the next hour, the players and students walked around the store together, loading up shopping carts with electronics and toys while discussing how best to use their money.

"It warms your heart when you can be a part of something like this," offensive guard William Campbell said. 

Bullard and Trestman said they hoped this was only the beginning of the relationship between the team and the school.

"The Vipers are here to help him and the community any way we can," Trestman said.

So far, it looks like they are off to a great start.