NFL players who excel on the field and in the community are continuing an NFL-USO tradition initiated more than 45 years ago as they prepare to take part in a weeklong visit to U.S. troops at military bases throughout the Middle East.
Denver Broncos cornerback CHAMP BAILEY, Cleveland Browns linebacker D’QWELL JACKSON, Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard DAVIN JOSEPH, Broncos linebacker VON MILLER, Carolina Panthers wide receiver STEVE SMITH and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. WATT will travel to the Middle East to spend time with service members. This tour marks the first NFL-USO tour abroad for all the players.
The NFL and USO have organized overseas morale-building visits for more than 45 years. In 1966, the NFL teamed with the USO and became the first sports organization to send a group of players to Vietnam and other parts of Asia to demonstrate the league’s support for America’s troops. Since then, NFL icons including TERRY BRADSHAW, LARRY CSONKA, FRANCO HARRIS, HOWIE LONG, DON MEREDITH, LYNN SWANN and JOHNNY UNITAS have visited troops on NFL-USO tours in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Japan, Korea, Kuwait and Somalia.
Last year, the NFL and USO deployed players JASON BAKER, DHANI JONES, ALEX MACK, TAKEO SPIKES, and ERIC WINSTON overseas to boost the morale of service men and women. During the tour, the group visited more than five military bases in multiple countries throughout Southwest Asia.
In addition, current and former NFL coaches BILL COWHER, LESLIE FRAZIER, BEN KOTWICA, AND ERIC MANGINI spent July 4th in Afghanistan last year as part of the fourth annual NFL-USO Coaches tour to show their appreciation to service members.
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