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Six NFL Stars Line Up for USO Tour to Middle East

Monday, March 11, 2013

This year’s lineup for the annual USO/NFL Handshake Tour is loaded with big names and superstars. So much so that one might half expect them to be appearing in Hawaii -- at the Pro Bowl -- as well.

The resumes of this particular field of football stars include 22 Pro Bowls and 13 All-Pro teams, plus the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year and a virtual lock for the Hall of Fame.

Twelve-time Pro Bowler Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey and reigning DPY Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt will be joined by Cleveland Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Davin Joseph, Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller and Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith for a USO tour to visit deployed troops in the Middle East in the near future. (For security reasons, the specific countries and dates cannot be released in advance.)

“I am honored to have this rare opportunity through the NFL and USO to spend time with the men and women serving in our armed forces,” Smith said. “Being able to visit with troops during their deployment, having the chance to shake their hands, look them in the eye and personally thank them for what they do is a privilege.”

The NFL has partnered with the USO for 47 years, sending out celebrity sports figures around the globe to visit and lift the spirits of troops several times each year. Since 2007, the USO has sent out 166 NFL representatives, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, 75 officials, 59 players, 24 coaches, five Hall of Famers and two analysts. Those 40 tours to 20 countries have boosted the spirits of more than 10,000 troops and military families. 

“To get the opportunity to represent the NFL, the Buccaneers, and to really show how much appreciation we have for the troops that serve our country is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Joseph said. “I have the utmost respect for our servicemen and women and the things they do, the sacrifices they make for our country. To go out there, pay our respects to them and see how we can brighten up their day is what it’s really all about.”

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Photo caption: From left to right, J.J. Watt, Steve Smith, Davin Joseph, Von Miller, D'Qwell Jackson and Champ Bailey. 

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