• Former Sailor Robert Donnelly rushes along the sideline for the Wounded Warrior Amputees Football Team, which took on the NFL and Washington Redskins Alumni Flag Football Challenge at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington, Va., Nov. 16, 2013, as part of Warrior Care Month. Sponsored by the non-profit Military Benefit Association, $60,000 was raised for the Amputees. The gridiron  battle's outcome came down to the final seconds with the Amputees winning 28-21.

    Pounding Down the Sideline

    Former Sailor Robert Donnelly rushes along the sideline for the Wounded Warrior Amputees Football Team, which took on the NFL and Washington Redskins Alumni Flag Football Challenge at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington, Va., Nov. 16, 2013, as...

  • Former Redskin Brian Mitchell tries to move around former Cleveland Browns player Eric Metcalf as former Marine Tim Lang rushes in to yank the flag off Mitchell. The Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team went up against the Washington Redskins Alumni & NFL Alumni in a Flag Football Challenge at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington, Va., Nov. 16, 2013, as part of Warrior Care Month. Sponsored by the non-profit Military Benefit Association, $60,000 was raised for the amputees. While the gridiron battle's outcome came down to the final seconds, the amputees won out 28-21.

    Oh No You Don't

    Former Redskin Brian Mitchell tries to move around former Cleveland Browns player Eric Metcalf as former Marine Tim Lang rushes in to yank the flag off Mitchell. The Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team went up against the Washington Redskins Alumni &...

  • Animated NFL Hall of Famer Sam Huff, former New York Giants and Washington Redskins linebacker and broadcaster, flanked by NFL legends, brings his cheerleading skills to former NFL players as the Wounded Warrior Amputees Football Team took on the Washington Redskins Alumni & NFL Alumni Flag Football Challenge at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington, Va., Nov. 16, 2013. While the game was a battle to the final seconds, the amputees prevailed 28-21.

    Top Cheerleader NFL Hall of Famer Sam Huff

    Animated NFL Hall of Famer Sam Huff, former New York Giants and Washington Redskins linebacker and broadcaster, flanked by NFL legends, brings his cheerleading skills to former NFL players as the Wounded Warrior Amputees Football Team took on the...

  • Co-captains of the Wounded Warrior Amputees Football Team (left to right) former Marine Sgt. B.J. Ganam and former Army Staff Sgt. Greg Reynolds watch the coin toss with retired Washington Redskin return specialist Brian Mitchell, who currently holds the number two spot for all-time, all-purpose yards returned in the NFL. The amputees faced off against the Washington Redskins Alumni & NFL Alumni Flag Football Challenge at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington, Va., Nov. 16, 2013, as part of Warrior Care Month. While the gridiron battle came down to the final seconds, the amputees prevailed 28-21.

    Coin Toss

    Co-captains of the Wounded Warrior Amputees Football Team (left to right) former Marine Sgt. B.J. Ganam and former Army Staff Sgt. Greg Reynolds watch the coin toss with retired Washington Redskin return specialist Brian Mitchell, who currently holds...

  • Former Soldier Seth Nieman rushes retired all-pro Washington Redskins Brian Mitchell as NFL referee Scott H. Green watches the play. The Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team went up against the Washington Redskins &  other NFL alumni in the Flag Football Challenge at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington, Va., Nov. 16, 2013, as part of Warrior Care Month. Sponsored by the non-profit Military Benefit Association, $60,000 was raised for the amputees. While the gridiron battle's outcome came down to the final seconds, the amputees won out 28-21.

    Amputee Rushes Brian Mitchell

    Former Soldier Seth Nieman rushes retired all-pro Washington Redskins Brian Mitchell as NFL referee Scott H. Green watches the play. The Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team went up against the Washington Redskins & other NFL alumni in the Flag...

  • Current NFL free agent former Houston Texan and former National Guardsman C.C. Brown rushes for a touchdown as NFL referee Scott H. Green watches the play. Brown played for the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team against the Washington Redskins Alumni & NFL Alumni in a Flag Football Challenge at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington, Va., Nov. 16, 2013, as part of Warrior Care Month. Sponsored by the non-profit Military Benefit Association, $60,000 was raised for the Amputees. While the gridiron battle's outcome came down to the final seconds, the amputees won out 28-21.

    CC Brown Breaks

    Current NFL free agent former Houston Texan and former National Guardsman C.C. Brown rushes for a touchdown as NFL referee Scott H. Green watches the play. Brown played for the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team against the Washington Redskins...

  • Former Marine Sgt. Thomas Getscher signs a football for a fan at the conclusion of the Flag Football Challenge held between the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team and NFL and Washington Redskins Alumni at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington, Va., Nov. 16, 2013, as part of Warrior Care Month. Sponsored by the non-profit Military Benefit Association, $60,000 was raised for the amputees. The gridiron battle came down to the final seconds with the amputees pulling it out 28-21.

    Signing Footballs

    Former Marine Sgt. Thomas Getscher signs a football for a fan at the conclusion of the Flag Football Challenge held between the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team and NFL and Washington Redskins Alumni at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington...

  • Former Virginia Gov. George Allen, in the tradition of his late father who coached the Washington Redskins for six years, coaches the Washington Redskins Alumni Team in a challenge against the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team, which played a flag football game at Bishop O'Connel High School in Arlington, Va., Nov. 16, 2013, as part of Warrior Care Month. Sponsored by the non-profit Military Benefit Association, $60,000 was raised for the amputees. While the gridiron battle's outcome came down to the final seconds, the amputees won out 28-21.

    Former Virginia Governor George Allen Coaches NFL Alumni

    Former Virginia Gov. George Allen, in the tradition of his late father who coached the Washington Redskins for six years, coaches the Washington Redskins Alumni Team in a challenge against the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team, which played a flag...

  • Former NFL second all-time punt-returner for touchdowns Eric Metcalf was inducted into Bishop O'Connell High School Hall of Fame, from which he graduated in 1983. The school hosted the Flag Football Challenge between the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team and the NFL and Washington Redskins Alumni squad in Arlington, Va., Nov. 16, 2013, as part of Warrior Care Month. Sponsored by the non-profit Military Benefit Association, $60,000 was raised for the amputees. The former NFL pros couldn't get the win done in the closing seconds losing to the Amputees 28-21. Flanking Metcalf are his two former high school coaches Fred Benevento and Jim Hayes and former Redskins' running back Brian Mitchell.

    Metcalf Honored

    Former NFL second all-time punt-returner for touchdowns Eric Metcalf was inducted into Bishop O'Connell High School Hall of Fame, from which he graduated in 1983. The school hosted the Flag Football Challenge between the Wounded Warrior Amputee...

  • All in a day's fun, the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team mixes with the NFL and Washington Redskins Alumni and Bishop O'Connell High School cheerleaders at the Flag Football Challenge in Arlington, Va., Nov. 16, 2013, as part of Warrior Care Month. Sponsored by the non-profit Military Benefit Association, $60,000 was raised for the amputees. The gridiron battle outcome came down to the final seconds with the amputees winning 28-21.

    Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team & NFL Alumni

    All in a day's fun, the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team mixes with the NFL and Washington Redskins Alumni and Bishop O'Connell High School cheerleaders at the Flag Football Challenge in Arlington, Va., Nov. 16, 2013, as part of Warrior Care...

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 18, 2013) -- It wasn't smash-mouth football, but there were moments when the game spilled into a rumble and tumble filled with laughs and friendly bantering between the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team and a squad of seasoned NFL veterans and Washington Redskins Alumni.

The game was in conjunction with Warrior Care Month, an observance established by the Defense Department in 2008, as a way of making the public aware of the sacrifices of wounded, ill or injured service members. The month was also designed as a way to showcase these men and women, who rebuilt through resiliency what they once felt were shattered lives.

Before the Nov. 16 kickoff, at McMurtrie Field on the grounds of Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington, Va., colors were conducted, followed by a prayer and presentation of an engraved bench dedicated to a former school coach. Retired NFL Cleveland Browns' player Eric Metcalf was also inducted into the school's hall of fame for breaking a slew of records at O'Connell, from which he graduated in 1983.

Then the amputees were introduced to the cheering crowd in the bleachers who had come to support the fund-raising effort put on by the non-profit Military Benefit Association, which raised $50,000 for the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team and raffled off a grand prize trip for two to see the Redskins take on the New York Giants, Dec. 29. Players from both teams signed footballs and jerseys and about anything else a fan wanted signed.

Then the Redskins alumni and alumni from other NFL teams introduced themselves -- the Redskins' Brian Mitchell, Larry Brown, Mike Bass, Mack Alston, Cleveland Browns' Eric Metcalf, Houston Texans' CC Brown (currently a free agent), Detroit Lions' Eric Hipple, Denver Broncos' Tony Lilly, Baltimore Colts' Bruce Laird, Dallas Cowboys' Stan Gelbaugh and Miami Dolphins' kicker Garo Yepremian and others Derrick Dockery, TJ Fitzpatrick and Ted Vactor. Head cheerleader was Hall of Famer Sam Huff. Former Virginia governor George Allen served as coach for the NFL Alumni, as his father coached the Redskins from 1971 to 1977.

Former Army Staff Sgt. Greg Reynolds -- who lost his left arm and entire shoulder blade when a car hit his motorcycle shortly after returning from Iraq -- dealt with depression and anger at the extent of his injuries initially, but he's since become a changed man, bounced back and can now pump out 100 one-armed pushups, hardly breaking a sweat.

Today, Reynolds not only serves as co-captain of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team, but he's also on the Wounded Warriors Amputee Baseball Team, playing left field.

"I would just like to say, there are a lot of things in life that happen," Reynolds said. "The one thing that we all can control is our attitude; so instead of being negative about it, try to find the positive. Nobody wants to be around a negative person; find the positive and things will come your way," he said. "Don't sit on the couch feeling sorry for yourself."

Former Miami Dolphin place kicker Garo Yepremian, who had emigrated to the U.S. from Cyprus, brought his soccer skills to the NFL in 1966. The first game he played in was also the first game he happened to have ever seen. He would later be part of the Dolphins team that went undefeated, winning Super Bowl VII against the Washington Redskins.

Yepremian almost blew that game when he attempted a field goal which was blocked, then he batted it into the air. It was picked off by a Redskin who returned it for a touchdown. The Dolphins managed to pull off the win, 14-7.

He came to the game, not to play but to say thanks to the amputees and see old NFL friends, including former Redskin Mike Bass, who was the player that ran his bumbled play the opposite way for six points.

In those days, professional football players didn't earn big salaries, so they held other jobs the rest of the year. Yepremian said he felt a "real love of country," so he joined the Army National Guard and served for six years, beginning at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

"My friends told me that I'd better get in shape and I said, 'no problem, I've been to football camp.' I went to basic and I found out it was 100 times tougher than an NFL football camp and it made me a stronger man, gave me more discipline and it's made me a better person," he said.

Yepremian, who later became a U.S. citizen, had dinner with the amputees the previous night and said he saw the resiliency in them.

"I saw a lot of the young Soldier amputees yesterday, and I told my wife, 'I will never complain about my pain anymore, because I'm 69 years old, and I've had many problems as far as back and shoulder problems,'" he said. "I looked at them and I say, I can't believe this, these guys have given 100 percent of their lives to our country, and now they come back without an arm or leg, but they're not letting that keep them down."

Former Army Staff Sgt. Michael Caine lost his right leg in Iraq when his vehicle hit an anti-tank mine and rolled over, in 2003. His surgeons had been trying to salvage his left leg for the last 10 years, but they determined in October they couldn't continue, so it was amputated below the knee.

"I was upset at first, but then I took a couple of deep breaths and decided I wanted to do whatever I had to do to get back up on my feet and get back to my regular everyday life," he said. "So now I play hockey for the U.S.A. Warriors Ice Hockey Team and I'm just waiting for my rehabilitation to be over and I'll hopefully be able to get a job working with the Washington Capitals in the front office."

Former Marine staff sergeant and co-captain of the football team, B.J. Ganam, was hit by an improvised explosive device on Thanksgiving night 2004, in Iraq. The blast killed his gunner and left Ganam with an amputated leg below the knee.

"When I first realized I was being MedEvac'ed, that was it for me, that was my career, it was pretty depressing and took a lot of time to get over, a lot of work with a bunch of different organizations, a lot of supporters to help me get to the point where I am now where I think I'm thriving and doing a lot of good stuff," he said.

Ganam said his life has come full circle through the help of veterans organizations and he's moving ahead, not looking back at what has been. He's now working as a veteran-to-veteran mentor for the Semper Fi Fund and America's Fund to help veterans transition. They have to learn, adapt and overcome, he said.

For the game Saturday, the field was shortened and played between the 25-yard lines with no kicking. Even so, runs and passes were along sidelines, "hail-Mary" passes wobbled through the air and some of the players enjoyed soft take-downs, even though it was flag football.

The score went back and forth, trading touchdows (no field goals), but with one minute to go, the amputees pulled off their fifth straight victory 28-21, leaving the team undefeated.

The Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team's sixth game promises to be a tough match against 9/11 first-responders from the New York City Fire Department, slated for Jan. 25, 2014.

Page last updated Mon November 18th, 2013 at 00:00