The NFL is continuing this March its legacy of more than 40 years of sending players overseas to visit with U.S. military troops. Four NFL players — Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, New York Giants linebacker Danny Clark, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, and St. Louis Rams linebacker Will Witherspoon — are on a week-long tour to U.S. military bases in Iraq and Kuwait. Clark took time to write about his experiences so far:
This trip is truly humbling. To see how many people it takes to make this machine work is truly astonishing. Lt. Colonel Jones spoke of “18,000 points of failure,” meaning there are over 18,000 troops in Kuwait at one time working together as one. You need every man and woman to get their job done at any cost.
We often draw many parallels in the game of football to the military and war mentality. While there are similarities, the difference can be fatal. If a running back misses a guy in pass protection, the worst thing that can happen is your QB gets blindsided for a 7-yard loss. If a pilot forgets to lock the hull of his vessel or a member of an infantry squad fails to do his job, every member of the team can lose their life. It’s amazing to see kids just 19 or 20 years old pay painstaking attention to detail.
At Camp Arifjan, we came in contact with more than 2,000 soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen. Whether it was signing autographs, taking pictures, shaking hands or even giving hugs, it was truly exhilarating for me at the rest of the guys. We also had an opportunity to have some fun by going out on a 34-foot Naval speedboat. Jared Allen jumped behind the wheel and performed some big donuts port side as well as starboard. Will Witherspoon (nicknamed Chestnut) took a turn next and did an impressive job behind the wheel.
Now today we just landed in Iraq, and I’m excited as ever. My brothers have touched this soil in the last few years, and I’m anxious to see how they lived. We all come from the same household, but we’ve had different experiences so far. I look to uplift every serviceman or woman I can and express my sincere gratitude for what they are doing for us back at home. Talk to you soon.
– Danny Clark