Three NFL players who excel on the field and in their community are continuing an NFL-USO tradition initiated nearly 50 years ago. These NFL ambassadors are taking part in a week-long tour throughout the Middle East to visit U.S. troops at military bases.
Miami Dolphins kicker BRANDON FIELDS, Washington Redskins wide receiver PIERRE GARÇON and New Orleans Saints tight end JIMMY GRAHAM are the players participating in the tour this year. This trip marks the first NFL-USO tour abroad for all of them.
The NFL and USO have worked together on overseas morale-building visits for 48 years. In 1966, the NFL teamed with the USO and became the first sports organization to send players to Vietnam and other parts of Asia.
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. In 2008 Commissioner ROGER GOODELL became the first sports commissioner to visit the troops overseas as part of a USO trip when he toured Iraq and Afghanistan.
NFL players CHAMP BAILEY, D’QWELL JACKSON, DAVIN JOSEPH, VON MILLER, STEVE SMITH and J.J. WATT took part in last year’s USO tour overseas. During the tour, the group visited military bases in Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. They dined with service members, greeted military personnel and signed autographs.
Also last year, former NFL players CHRIS DRAFT, DONNIE EDWARDS, and ERIC METCALF along with former Indianapolis Colts President BILL POLIAN, spent the beginning of July in Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan, visiting troops and showing their appreciation to service members.
In the last year, current and former players including PEYTON MANNING, VINCENT JACKSON, AUSTIN COLLIE and MATT LIGHT have participated in USO tours, visiting various locations including Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and Djibouti.
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