FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — On a more serious note, there are many times during the course of working with the NFL when football takes a back seat to the realities of life. Saturday was one of those instances, when I got a chance to visit with some of the war veterans who were on hand to watch the AFC and NFC practices at Lockhart Stadium.
Eddie Wright and David Regan, who both served in Iraq, were among the group of seven wounded veterans who took in the practice with former NFL greats Jim McMahon and Christian Okoye through Impact A Hero.
“I’ve been doing this for quite a few years now, and just to be around these guys, it’s a lot of fun,” McMahon said. “The camaraderie they have for one another, all these guys would go back to their units right now if they could. That’s how close these guys are. Just to get them out of the hospital situation and do something fun like this, they’re having a blast.”
For one afternoon, at least, being at the Pro Bowl allowed the guys to forget about their medical situations and the issues they face in their daily lives as wounded veterans.
“It’s amazing,” Regan said. “The first time I met (Impact A Hero founder Dick) Lynch and Jim, I was in the hospital. I didn’t want to go out in public. I was in a dark, dark spot. And they pretty much drug me back to life. They got me out in social settings and meeting players that you watch on TV. It’s just incredible. Then you get people welcoming you out in public and they tell you how much they appreciate what you’ve done, it makes you feel good.”
There’s a much larger story to tell here, but I wanted to recognize the guys who I got the opportunity to thank personally as my heroes.
— Frank Tadych