By Joseph Andrew Lee
If you’re a NFL fan, you’ve probably noticed a lot of camouflage on the field, on the players, on coaches’ clipboards and pretty much everywhere else the past few weeks.
But what does all that marketing really mean in terms of support?
“So far the NFL has donated about $2 million through their Salute to Service campaign,” USO account manager Dinisha Robinson said.
For every point scored during the NFL’s Salute to Service games, the NFL donates $1,000 to be divided between the USO, the Pat Tillman Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project. In addition, the NFL holds auctions and sells merchandise at nfl.com/salute, splitting the proceeds among the three organizations.
At the USO, that money has been allocated to build and support the NFL Sports Lounge inside the USO Warrior and Family Center on Naval Support Activity Bethesda, Home of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The sports lounge serves as a home away from home for severely wounded, ill and injured troops recovering on the hospital campus.
And the NFL is helping deployed service members, too. In addition to financial support, the NFL also provides every overseas USO center with NFL Game Pass, giving troops from Japan to Europe to Afghanistan the opportunity to watch their favorite teams live, just in case the Armed Forces Network isn’t broadcasting their game.
“NFL Game Pass is huge for us downrange,” said Regina Wages, center manager at the USO on Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan. “AFN typically shows two games on Sunday morning and two games in the afternoon, so NFL Game Pass is key when it comes to showing games that are popular that aren’t being shown on AFN.”
The USO has partnered with the NFL for nearly 50 years, connecting American football players and coaches to their military fans around the world.
“The NFL is exceedingly proud of our nearly 50-year relationship with the USO,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a recent letter to USO CEO and President Dr. J.D. Crouch II. “The work [done by the USO] to support the men and women serving our country has never been more important.”
“To be able to provide them with their favorite live sporting events and even more specifically, access to their favorite teams, it’s a game-changer,” Wages said.
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