The viral UT shirt was repped on live TV by a WWE wrestler who played ball at Florida
Sept. 17, 2019
Thaddeus Bullard, known as WWE superstar Titus O'Neil, wore the viral UT shirt during "WWE Raw."
The shirt features the design of a boy who was bullied for wearing his homemade UT shirt to school.
Bullard played football at the University of Florida, which has a rivalry game against UT this weekend.
"WWE Raw" was held in Knoxville and featured Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs making his return as the iconic Kane character.
Bullied boy gets UT shirt printed and a scholarship offer
A boy bullied for his homemade UT shirt design made national headlines, leading the university to make his shirt a reality and offer him a scholarship.
On Monday night — the start of Florida week — rivalries and regular ring gear were set aside on "WWE Raw" when WWE superstar Titus O'Neil, who played football at the University of Florida, repped a bullied fourth grader's University of Tennessee shirt design.
The elementary school boy from Florida warmed hearts across the nation this month after he was teased for the homemade UT shirt he wore to school. The university responded by offering the boy a four-year scholarship and turning his design into an actual shirt, which is being sold to raise money for STOMP Out Bullying.
O'Neil, whose real name is Thaddeus Bullard, wore the shirt during a backstage segment on "WWE Raw." The program was being broadcast live on the USA Network from Thompson-Boling Arena on UT's campus in Knoxville, Tennessee.
And that wasn't the only exposure the university received Monday night.
Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, known for his iconic WWE character Kane, showed off UT football's Neyland Stadium during the program and even won the WWE 24/7 Championship on the field by pinning R-Truth after he ran into the Vols' goal post.
Bullard once played football on that same field in 1998 when the Vols defeated the Gators en route to a national championship. The Vols will travel to The Swamp for another rivalry game against Florida this Saturday.
Bullard red-shirted in 1996 when Florida won its national championship before participating in the 1997-2000 seasons. During that time, Bullard played in 47 games, including three bowl games, and recorded 56 career tackles.
Despite the now-WWE superstar being a proud Gator, he still chose to wear the UT shirt during rivalry week.
Bullard, in character as O'Neil, was shown wearing the UT shirt during a backstage segment revealing the gender of WWE superstar Maria Kanellis' baby. The segment got heated when Kanellis announced, as part of the storyline, that her husband was not the father.
The UT design was never addressed, but Bullard's choice to wear the shirt is not surprising for someone so deeply involved with charity work.
"The gridiron grappler has left his fair share of Superstars lying limp on the mat in singles competition as well, bringing the same intensity and passion to his charity commitments outside the ring," reads his bio on wwe.com.
The Tampa Bay Lightning named Bullard a "Lightning Community Hero" in 2017 for his work in the Tampa Bay area, which included helping student athletes get into college, reading books to children and walking students to school.
Last month, Bullard released his book "There’s No Such Thing as a Bad Kid: How I Went from Stereotype to Prototype." The book aims to use Bullard's unique story as inspiration for children to fulfill their potential and for adults to lend helping hands to kids in need.
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