By Sandi Moynihan
With Super Bowl LI just around the corner, we’re looking back on five favorite USO moments with NFL coaches and players to celebrate 51 years of partnership in support of service members and their families:
J.J. Watt and Von Miller Sign Autographs in Afghanistan
Houston Texans’ defensive end J.J. Watt and Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller headed on their first USO tour overseas tour in March 2013 with fellow NFL players Davin Joseph, D’Qwell Jackson and Stevonne Latrall Smith. In these side-by-side shots, Watt and Miller sign autographs and pose for photos with service members at Forward Operating Base Pasab, Kandahar province, Afghanistan.
Peyton Manning Throws a Mid-Flight Pass
Manning, the starting Denver Broncos quarterback at the time, headed overseas on the February 2013 USO Vice Chairman’s Tour with a slew of stars including NFL players Vincent Jackson and Austin Collie, former Red Sox pitcher Curt Shilling and American Idol Stars Ace Young and Diana Degarmo. In this photo, Manning throws a pass to Air Force Staff Sgt. Donnell Coleman during a flight to Afghanistan.
Pierre Garcon, Jimmy Graham and Brandon Fields Hang with Service Members in the Middle East
In March 2014, Washington Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon, then-New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham and former Miami Dolphins punter Brandon Fields visited more than 1,800 troops in Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates during a USO tour. In this photo, all three players pose with pose with service members during a meet-and-greet session.
“[We had] all kinds of interactions,” Garcon said. “Everybody was excited that we came, that was one of the things that stood out the most. It was definitely a memorable time.”
Andrew Luck Signs Autographs in Bahrain
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck headed on his first USO tour in March 2015 with fellow Colts players Dwayne Allen and David DeCastro, head coach Chuck Pagano and several other stars. In this photo, Luck signs a shirt for a sailor at Naval Support Activities Bahrain during a meet-and-greet session.
“[It’s] a once in a lifetime opportunity to, one, show our appreciation for what all the branches of the military do around the world and to go around the world and to see the men and women in different settings,” Luck said.
Drew Brees, Billy Miller and Donnie Edwards Hang with Marines in Djibouti
In March 2010, New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees and Billy Miller, along with Kansas City Chiefs’ Donnie Edwards, headed overseas on USO tour to visit service members like this Marine in Djibouti. During their stop at the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Djibouti, the NFL players signed autographs, took photos and even had a chance to get some hands-on training from Marines.
You can send a message of support and thanks directly to service members via the USO’s Campaign to Connect. Your messages will appear on screens at USO locations around the world.