NFL announcers’ barrage of military metaphors got me thinking: Who in the NFL right now has endured overseas duty during wartime, and who else has served in any capacity?
Dare I say it, here’s inside-the-trenches look at veterans who have played in the NFL, according to the league.
These statistics — probably incomplete — tell us the Air Force Academy has graduated the most NFL players since the early 1990s (5), followed by the Naval Academy (3) and then West Point (2).
Also, check out this web page, focusing on the NFL and its connection to veterans who have served, on the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s website when you get a shot.
Overseas duty endurers
• Ahmard Hall, Tennessee Titans fullback, served as a Marine in Kosovo (1999) and Afghanistan (2002). He has started three games this season.
• Rulon Davis, Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end, served as a Marine in Iraq around 2003. He is assigned to the practice squad.
• Ben Kotwica, New York Jets special teams assistant coach, flew Apache helicopters for the Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
• Rod Marinelli, Chicago Bears assistant head coach and defense line coach, served a one-year tour in Vietnam.
• Mike Priefer, Denver Broncos special teams coordinator, flew Navy helicopters in the Persian Gulf.
• Ralph Wilson Jr., 92, long-time owner of the Buffalo Bills and one of the founders of the American Football League, served in the Navy during World War II.
• Detroit Lions safety C.C. Brown is a guardsman. He has 33 tackles.
• Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Chad Hall, a former Air Force officer, has three receptions this year.
• Detroit Lions linebacker Caleb Campbell, an Army reserve officer, was signed for one game this season.
• Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker coach Kevin Greene served 16 years in the reserves while playing and coaching in the NFL.
• New York Giants quarterback coach Mike Sullivan served as an Army officer in the early 1990s and graduated from Ranger and Airborne schools.
Here are some other veterans who have played in the league in recent years.
|NFL PLAYERS WITH SERVICE TIES|
|Mike Anderson||Marine Corps, about 1996||Denver Broncos, 2000-03||University of Utah|
|Baltimore Ravens, 2006-07|
|Vaughn Baker||Army, 1988-90||Kansas City Chiefs, 1994-97||University of Cincinnati|
|Green Bay Packers, 1998-99|
|Cincinnati Bengals, 2000-02|
|C.C. Brown||National Guard, service unknown||Detroit Lions, 2010||University of Louisiana-Lafayette|
|Caleb Campbell||Army, 2008-present||Detroit Lions, 2010||Army|
|Kyle Eckel||Navy, 2001-06||New England Patriots, 2007||Navy|
|Philadelphia Eagles, 2008|
|New Orleans Saints, 2009|
|Chuck Evans||Marine Corps, date unknown||Minnesota Vikings, 1993-98||Clark University (Atlanta)|
|Baltimore Ravens, 1999-2000|
|Bryce Fisher||Air Force, 1995-01||Buffalo Bills, 2001||Air Force|
|Air National Guard, 2001-present||St. Louis Rams, 2002-04|
|Seattle Seahawks, 2005-06|
|Tennessee Titans, 2007|
|Chris Gizzi||Air Force, 1994-99||Green Bay Packers, 2000-01||Air Force|
|Kevin Greene||Air Force, about 1998||Las Angeles Rams, 1985-92||Auburn University|
|Pittsburgh Steelers, 1993-95|
|Carolina Panthers, 1996|
|San Francisco 49ers, 1997|
|Carolina Panthers, 1998-99|
|Ahmard Hall||Marine Cops, 1999-2002||Tennessee Titans, 2006-10||University of Texas|
|Air National Guard, date unknown|
|Chad Hall||Air Force, 2008 to about 2009||Philadelphia Eagles, 2010||Air Force|
|Chad Hennings||Air Force, 1988-92||Dallas Cowboys, 1992-00||Air Force|
|Clyde Johnson||Marine Corps, 1988-onwards||Kansas City Chiefs, 1997||Kansas State University|
|J.J. Johnson||Navy, about 1995||Miami Dolphins, 1999-01||Mississippi State|
|Ron Leshinski||Army, about 1999||Philadelphia Eagles, 1999||Army|
|Terry Long||Army, date unknown||Pittsburgh Steelers, 1984-91||East Carolina|
|Napoleon McCallum||Navy, 1981-89||Las Angeles Raiders, 1986, 1990-94||Navy|
|Phil McConkey||Navy, 1975-84||New York Giants, 1984-85||Navy|
|Green Bay Packers, 1986|
|New York Giants, 1986-88|
|Phoenix Cardinals, 1989|
|San Diego Chargers, 1989|
|Robert McCune||Navy National Guard, 1997-2000||Washington Redskins, 2005||University of Louisville|
|Baltimore Ravens, 2007-08|
|John Milem||Marine Corps, 1997-2000||San Francisco 49ers, 2000-01||Lenoir-Rhyne|
|Carolina Panthers, 2001|
|Derrick Rodgers||Air Force, date unknown||Miami Dolphins, 1997-02||Arizona State|
|New Orleans Saints, 2003-04|
|Steve Russ||Air Force, 1991-97||Denver Broncos, 1997, 1999-00||Air Force|
|Mark Stock||Army, date unknown||Pittsburgh Steelers, 1989||Virginia Military Institute|
|Washington Redskins, 1993|
|Indianapolis Colts, 1996|
|Pat Tillman||Army, 2002-04||Arizona Cardinals, 1998-2001||Arizona State|
|Chris Wing||Air Force, date unknown||New York Jets, 1997||Boise State|
|Ray Yakavonis||Army, date unknown||Minnesota Vikings, 1981-83||East Stroudsburg|
|Kansas City Chiefs, 1983|