This summer the NFL is continuing its legacy of visiting U.S. military troops overseas, and Vikings fans can follow along as Head Coach Brad Childress takes part in this year’s NFL-USO Coaches Tour. David Krichavsky, the NFL’s Director of Community Affiars, will be blogging during the tour and we’ll be sure to post those blogs on vikings.com.
Krichavsky’s 1st entry is already posted and you can read it by clicking here; there are also photos for you to view.
This year’s tour has already had some excitement and adversity, so be sure to click on that link and check it out.
Background Info On NFL-USO Coaches Tour
In 1966, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle conceived of the idea of sending NFL players on “goodwill” tours to visit US troops then fighting in Vietnam. Four future Hall of Fame players – Johnny Unitas, Willie Davis, Sam Huff, and Frank Gifford – participated on that first NFL-USO tour in 1966. In the years that followed, many NFL players including Bart Starr, Jack Kemp, Dick Butkus, Gene Upshaw, Archie Manning, Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier, Jerome Bettis, Warrick Dunn, and Drew Brees have visited our fighting forces stationed in every corner of the globe. Commissioner Roger Goodell traveled on a USO tour to Iraq and Afghanistan in the summer of 2008, becoming the first pro sports commissioner to participate in a USO tour abroad.
Despite the NFL’s long and successful partnership with the USO, it was not until last summer that the two organizations came together for their first Coaches tour. As part of that inaugural NFL-USO Coaches tour, Bill Cowher, Tom Coughlin, Jeff Fisher, Jon Gruden, and John Harbaugh traveled to Iraq over the July 4 holiday. The 5 coaches visited with thousands of troops in Iraq and significantly boosted morale. They signed autographs and took pictures with the troops – and created memories that will last a lifetime.
The coaches also came back changed. They had a new appreciation for the dedication and sacrifice of our troops, after seeing those qualities firsthand. The coaches discussed their USO tour experiences with their peers – other NFL coaches. It became inevitable that the first NFL-USO Coaches tour would not be the last. It just might become an annual tradition.
Forty-four years after the first trip, with more than 160 active and former players having traveled to more than 20 countries on USO tours, the NFL-USO partnership is continuing to break new ground. This current summer tour to Afghanistan represents the second time the NFL has brought a group of coaches overseas to visit the troops.
The NFL’s Director of Community Affairs David Krichavsky is accompanying 4 current NFL coaches – Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress, Carolina Panthers Head Coach John Fox, Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis and Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid – on a tour of U.S. military bases in the Persian Gulf.
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